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Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Tirumala Rao Vinnakota, Faisal L Kadri, Simon Grant, Ludmila Malinova, Peter Davd Tuddenham and Santiago Garcia

The purpose of this paper is to investigate and clarify possible distinctions between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician” with the intention of helping the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate and clarify possible distinctions between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician” with the intention of helping the growth of the cybernetics discipline in new directions.

Design/methodology/approach

After the American Society for Cybernetics ALU 2013 conference in Bolton, a small group of conference participants continued the conversations they had begun during the event, focusing on the comparison of the terms “cyberneticist” vs “cybernetician”. The group felt the need for clearer distinctions drawn (or designed) between the terms, in order to sustain the discipline of cybernetics and to support its growth. The aim of providing these distinctions is that theory should feed into practice and practice should feed into theory, forming a cybernetic loop, so that the discipline of cybernetics is sustained while growing. The conference participants had conversations between themselves, and came up with multiple perspectives on the distinction between “cyberneticist” vs “cybernetician”. The distinctions drawn mirror the distinctions between Science and Design: the science of cybernetics contrasted with the design of cybernetics.

Findings

The findings of this paper consist of recommendations to understand and act differently in the field of the discipline of cybernetics. In particular, a clear distinction is suggested between the terms “cyberneticist” and “cybernetician”. It is also suggested that in order for cybernetics to grow and be sustained, there should be a constant flow of developments in theory of cybernetics into the practice of cybernetics and vice-versa.

Originality/value

The authors believe that some people (called “cyberneticists”) should work on the science side of cybernetics, making strong contributions to the understanding and development of cybernetics theory. Others, (called “cyberneticians”) should work on the design side of cybernetics, to contribute through their actions and through the development of cybernetics practice. The result of this will be a self-organization that evolves naturally between theory and practice of cybernetics, leading to better learning of cybernetics, and in the process, sustaining it through continued growth. In this direction, the paper proposes several radical suggestions that may not be to the liking of traditionalists, but may be better received by the scientists and designers of cybernetics who can make a difference to the growth of the discipline of cybernetics.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1977

Robert J. Allio

Planning Review intercepted Stafford Beer after his recent luncheon address to the Montreal chapters of NASCP and PEI to extract his current views on planning and the…

Abstract

Planning Review intercepted Stafford Beer after his recent luncheon address to the Montreal chapters of NASCP and PEI to extract his current views on planning and the organization. Beer has long been concerned with the rate of change which technological achievement represents, and comments: “It is to the rate rather than to the changes themselves that we have to adapt.” In the interview that follows, he defines planning as the process of adjusting to a change in the environment. From his long inquiry into the task of organization and control in a fast‐changing environment, he concludes that the line/staff distinction is now dysfunctional. Planners and other staff personnel are making many decisions because they have the information and the decision has to be made quickly. Dr. Beer argues that these people should be given the responsibility to match the power they in fact enjoy. That power derives from information, which should not be confused with the accumulation of data. Data becomes information only at the point where it effects changes in the individual or company receiving it. Beer has long been a key figure in the fields of cybernetics, operations research, and management science. He's been a full‐time senior manager in four British companies, one a large publishing house and another United Steel, where he founded and directed for 13 years what became the largest civil operations research group. He has acted as consultant to international organizations such as the UN and the OECD and to a number of governments, including those of the United States, Britain, France, and Chile, in the sciences of management and effective organization (“the science of effective organization” is his preferred definition of cybernetics). Beer is Visiting Professor of Cybernetics at Manchester University, England, as well as Adjunct Professor of Statistics and Operations Research at the University of Pennsylvania. A conference speaker, broadcaster, and writer, Dr. Beer has published more than 150 papers and articles. Probably his best known books are Cybernetics and Management (1959), Brain of the Firm (1972), and Platform for Change (1975). In his spare time, Stafford Beer paints and writes poetry in his country home in Wales.

Details

Planning Review, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0094-064X

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Article
Publication date: 18 October 2011

Grahame Blackwell

This paper seeks to present a novel perspective on the interplay of forces that govern the dynamics of the massively complex multi‐body system that is our physical…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to present a novel perspective on the interplay of forces that govern the dynamics of the massively complex multi‐body system that is our physical universe. It offers a consistent, coherent and complete rationale for the phenomenon referred to as “gravitation”. This includes notably, for the first time, an explanation for the mechanism by which “matter tells space how to curve and curved space tells matter how to move”, and also possible causal explanations for the various outcomes of Einstein's equivalence principle.

Design/methodology/approach

Starting from the well‐supported premise that elementary particles are formed from closed‐loop electromagnetic energy flows, the likely impact of such constructs on the behaviour of large‐scale dynamic systems is analysed from first principles.

Findings

Gravitation is shown to be a natural consequence of such a construct. The warping of space in the presence of gravitating mass, consistent with the view presented by general relativity, is shown to relate to a clearly comprehensible physical structure with a well‐defined causation. Possible explanations are offered for: gravitational time dilation; gravitational red shift; gravitational potential energy; and slowing and bending of light in a gravitational field.

Research limitations/implications

This novel perspective opens a wide range of potential avenues of innovative research, both pure and applied.

Practical implications

A variety of new technologies may prove to be open to development, notably in the aerospace field. Antigravity technologies, whilst amenable to investigation and possible development, may prove highly energy‐intensive.

Originality/value

This paper is totally original and of very significant potential value in various respects.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 40 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Special Issue

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 15 March 2011

Owen Holland and Phil Husbands

The purpose of this paper is to describe the origins, members, activities, and influence of the Ratio Club, a British cybernetic dining club that met between 1949 and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the origins, members, activities, and influence of the Ratio Club, a British cybernetic dining club that met between 1949 and 1958. Although its membership included some of the best known British cyberneticists, such as Grey Walter and Ross Ashby, along with pioneering scientists such as Alan Turing, the club is poorly documented, and its significance is difficult to establish from published sources.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach involved the consultation and analysis of unpublished material in both private and public archives in the UK and the USA, coupled with interviews with surviving members, guests, and contemporaries.

Findings

The Ratio Club grew out of a distinctively British strand of cybernetic activity that was mainly fuelled by the deployment of biologists to engineering activities during the Second World War. It was also strongly influenced by the approach of the psychologist Kenneth Craik. Although members were keenly aware of contemporary American developments, such as Wiener's approach to the mathematics of control, and the psychological and sociological concerns of the Macy Conference, the emphasis of the club was on the application of cybernetic ideas and information theory to biology and the brain. In contrast to the wide influence the later Macy conferences exercised through their published transcripts, the Ratio Club influenced its core disciplines though its members, several of whom became prominent and effective advocates of the cybernetic approach.

Originality/value

This is the first journal paper to give an authoritative, detailed, and accurate account of the club's origins, activities, and importance.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 40 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1997

P.R. Masani

In the animal world the presence of entropy necessitates contest. Among the non‐human mammals the contests are overwhelmingly inter‐specific. On the other hand the bulk of…

Abstract

In the animal world the presence of entropy necessitates contest. Among the non‐human mammals the contests are overwhelmingly inter‐specific. On the other hand the bulk of human contests are intra‐specific. They bring about a dissipation in human systems akin to that brought on by noise in natural systems (“human noise”). Just as the engineering of natural systems hinges on the successful understanding of noise and its filtration, so the successful administration of human systems must hinge on the understanding of human noise and its filtration. In this paper, after demarcating the concepts of communication, teleology, contest and inquiry and their stochastic foundations, we shall (1) show that post‐Weber administrative theory, unlike the more classical, is delinquent in its neglect of human noise, (2) list the lacunae in the prevailing theory, (3) explain the greater efficiency of the administration of warfare in contrast to that of more humane projects, (4) expound the Parkinson maxims on the human noise specific to a Weberian bureaucracy, (5) show how this together with widespread corruption results in ineffective government, and finally, (6) suggest how systems analysts might approach this problem.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Documents from and on Economic Thought
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-450-8

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1994

P.R. Masani

Presents the scientific methodology from the enlarged cybernetical perspective that recognizes the anisotropy of time, the probabilistic character of natural laws, and the…

Abstract

Presents the scientific methodology from the enlarged cybernetical perspective that recognizes the anisotropy of time, the probabilistic character of natural laws, and the entry that the incomplete determinism in Nature opens to the occurrence of innovation, growth, organization, teleology communication, control, contest and freedom. The new tier to the methodological edifice that cybernetics provides stands on the earlier tiers, which go back to the Ionians (c. 500 BC). However, the new insights reveal flaws in the earlier tiers, and their removal strengthens the entire edifice. The new concepts of teleological activity and contest allow the clear demarcation of the military sciences as those whose subject matter is teleological activity involving contest. The paramount question “what ought to be done”, outside the empirical realm, is embraced by the scientific methodology. It also embraces the cognitive sciences that ask how the human mind is able to discover, and how the sequence of discoveries might converge to a true description of reality.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1999

C. Musès

Cybernetics is considered in its fundamental aspect of a unique master science embracing the concepts of the causation and precipitation of consequences, and hence…

Abstract

Cybernetics is considered in its fundamental aspect of a unique master science embracing the concepts of the causation and precipitation of consequences, and hence entraining values and history. In this context a deeper approach to feedback and socio‐political realities becomes possible and is developed, in which practical problems are squarely addressed.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 23 October 2007

Gary Boyd and Vladimir Zeman

The purpose of this paper is to encourage professional designers of many kinds, and especially those of the entertainment media, to understand themselves as actually being…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to encourage professional designers of many kinds, and especially those of the entertainment media, to understand themselves as actually being partners in a common educative enterprise, which is through artistry, predictive knowledge, non‐dominative legitimative discourse and technology, helping people everywhere to learn to desire to, and to be able to, survive reasonably pleasantly on Earth for a very long time to come.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper puts forward three theses: collapse of civilisation is immanent unless people can be educated to live symbiotically with one another and Gaia; all designs have educative and mis‐educative importance; designers need to learn to use higher level cybersystemic approaches to be beneficial. Then it argues for the plausibility of these theses from philosophical educational to practical perspectives. In particular, it argues for the importance of modifying cultural propagation so that all our main cultures can become “symviable” – that is can come to live symbiotically with one an other and with the ecosystems of Earth. And it is argued that, in order to facilitate this enterprise, a cybernetic understanding of the processes and actions of the complex historically emergent higher level cybersystems in which the authors are all embedded, and which are embedded in us, should become the basis for designers, actual practice.

Findings

By reviewing designers' functional levels historically the paper finds that many different kinds of influential designers have actually functioned at the higher cybersystemic levels the authors advocate and hence can be guiding exemplars in this newly precarious situation.

Originality/value

A deeper cybersystemic understanding of just how people are all parts of one mutually educating and mutually surviving Earth‐life system changes the value of everything. Designers who manage to use such understanding should be both more successful and more satisfied with the value of their work.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 36 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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