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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Kybernetes, Volume 42, Issue 4
We have combined the editorials for issues 3 and 4 of the current volume into a single editorial. As well as introducing the articles in the two issues, we also describe the Online initiative, on which topic David Chapman recently attended a seminar on behalf of the journal.
The Onlife initiative
In Brussels on February 8 this year, as part of the Digital Agenda for Europe, the European Commission launched the Onlife Manifesto. The initiative is a multidisciplinary project, bringing together scholars in anthropology, cognitive science, computer science, engineering, law, neuroscience, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology. In the words of the manifesto preface:
The deployment of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their uptake by society affect radically the human condition, insofar as it modifies our relationships to ourselves, to others and to the world […].
This Manifesto aims to launch an open debate on the impacts of the computational era on public spaces, politics and societal expectations toward policymaking in the Digital Agenda for Europe’s remit. More broadly, this Manifesto aims to start a reflection on the way in which a hyperconnected world calls for rethinking the referential frameworks on which policies are built. (The Onlife Manifesto, https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/sites/digital-agenda/files/Manifesto.pdf (accessed 25 April 2013)).
Some of the content of the manifesto, and of the presentations in Brussels (which are being made available on the initiative web site, at: http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/onlife-initiative), is familiar territory. We behave differently because of the availability of digital communications, and we experience the world differently. However, the manifesto is suggesting that the consequences, taken together, are radical; and that our conception of the world has not kept up. To take a couple of examples from the presentations, Mireille Hildebrandt of Radboud University Nijmegen and Vrije Universiteit Brussels, talked about the move from the individual self to the relational self, and about “attention” being a new limited resource (“and there’s nothing that excites an economist more than a limited resource”, she observed). Evidence for Hildebrandt’s suggestion was even visible in the audience of her talk, where a significant number were checking e-mail or on facebook rather than paying attention to what she was saying. Marc Davis of Microsoft argued that cyberspace is feudal: there are no true commons on the web, we are just share-croppers. Cyberspace, he argued, is a 1,000 years behind physical space and we are still waiting for a digital enlightenment.
To understand public space, politics and society, the initiative contends, we need concept reengineering. We need to develop the concepts that will allow us to understand “being human in a hyperconnected era”. The manifesto calls for debate to bring these new concepts forward.
In our first editorial for Kybernetes (“Living in a time of change”, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 5-12) we talked of new directions for the journal at a time of change. We believe that Kybernetes could be the home for some of the exploration of concept engineering, as one new direction for the journal, and we would welcome papers contributing to the debate from a cybernetic and/or system theoretic perspective.
Articles in issue 42(3)
Feedback control has always been an integral aspect of cybernetics, and a number of papers in this issue reflect this tradition. Anthony White’s paper critiques the use of systems dynamic models of software development process, and applies some fundamental ideas of control theory to the activity, drawing some general conclusions regarding the problems that can occur. Zheng-Xin Wang employs grey linear control system theory to analyze the disequilibrium regulation of the Chinese real estate market that includes both the supply-demand price mechanism and the production price mechanism. He uses the well-known control principles of observability and controllability in an analysis that contributes to an understanding of (in)stability in the market. A number of other papers combine artificial intelligence techniques with control ideas in novel ways. Yangfeng Xing analyzes optimization process of 2D and 3D rectangle workpieces using a fruit fly optimization algorithm (FOA), and proposes an improved algorithm, while Seyed Hossein Razavi Hajiagha et al. apply fuzzy-set ideas to linear programming problems in decision making. Finally, although perhaps not fully control-theoretic in nature, the paper by Zhiyun Zou et al. applies dynamic robustness concepts to the analysis of urban public transport networks, comparing static and dynamic robustness for such networks.
The remaining articles in the issue continue the breath of concerns found throughout the history of this journal. There has always been a considerable amount of cross-over between cybernetics and artificial intelligence (Dupuy, 2009). Crossing the boundary between control theory and AI, Cihan Altuntas presents in detail a method for improving close-range photogrammetry (obtaining automated measurements from photographic images). Chih-Fong Tsai et al. discuss hybrid techniques for machine learning, through a study of their use in data mining to analyse customer lifetime value, and argue that the hybrid techniques perform better than the use of single machine learning techniques. Faisal Kadri takes the mechanization of mind a step further by discussing the concept of artificial personalities, which he outlined in an earlier article in Kybernetes – here he conducts psychometric tests on these artificial personalities to examine how closely they replicate typical tests for humans.
Moving away from AI, but staying with automated approaches to decision-making, Kazim Sari outlines a multi-criterion decision making model using fuzzy logic, and applies it to the needs of organizations seeking to decide between solution provides for radio frequency identification (RFID), an area of considerable importance in many businesses.
We conclude the issue with two papers in applied mathematics. Jalil Rashidinia and Zahra Mahmoodi present a method for solving the Fredholm and Volterra integral equations (both linear and non-linear) which are important in the numerical analysis of a range of scientific and engineering applications. Lastly, Jerzy Jozefczyk and Marcin Siepak discuss algorithms for optimisation problems concerning resource allocation, an on-going issue in management science. This article was one of the highly-commended papers presented at the World Organization for Systems and Cybernetics (WOSC) Conference in Nanjing in 2011, but was not published in the special issues in volume 41 of Kybernetes arising from the conference; we are pleased to remedy that omission and to publish it here.
Articles in issue 42(4)
There are nine papers in this issue, again reflecting the wide variety of styles of articles we are happy to have in Kybernetes. Broadly speaking, the articles are conceptual, applied, control theory and mathematical. There are two conceptual articles: Jan Bartscht looks at the long-term viability of a cybernetic system, especially in a leadership context, arguing for the importance of authentic behaviour; while Mario Tarride (who had an article in issue 2 of the current volume) and Patricio Osorio-Vega consider the application of complexity theory to knowledge management within organisations. Among the applied articles, Vasja Roblek et al. look at the use of social media in knowledge management situations and examine the added value such tools can bring; Evren Sahin et al. look at the management of home care organizations, a subject of growing importance in ageing populations, and create a complexity model of such organizations; and Štefan Bojnec looks at cybernetic systems in defence management, in particular using input-output modelling to study defence management in Slovenia.
There are two articles that broadly might be called control theory: Weizhen Chen and colleagues discuss denoising techniques for vibration signals, using techniques extended from those originally developed by Norbert Wiener in the early years of cybernetics; while Montaz Ali and Barilee Baridam apply the K-means clustering technique for identifying distribution patterns in statistics to biological sequence data. Lastly, there are two articles which have a largely mathematical focus, but which contextualise their work in past research in cybernetics as we have required in previous editorials: Alex Andrew examines the König-Egerváry Theorem, which has practical value in a particular area of linear programming, and extends to matrices of greater than two dimensions; while Lazhar Bougoffa and Randolph Rach present a new approach to solving extended differential equations using a form of the Adomian decomposition method which has been discussed on many previous occasions in the journal.
We hope you enjoy these issues of Kybernetes.
Magnus Ramage, David Chapman, Chris Bissell
Dupuy, J.-P. (2009), On the Origins of Cognitive Science: The Mechanization of Mind, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (translated by M.B. DeBevoise)