Why is “cyber” associated with certain connotations?

Since I started to get into Cybernetics I developed a special sensitivity regarding the usage of the term “cyber”. A few well known examples:

Cyber War
Cyber Army
Cyber Terror
Cyber Crime
Cyber Bullying/Mobbing
Cyber Security
Cyber Attacks
Cyber Sex (nothing against sex, but why Cyber?)
Cyber Punk (which is actually cool ;))

So: Why in the world is this term associated with these (more or less) lethal or freaky contexts? Why is it not called “Internet War”, “Internet Terror”, etc.?

My only conclusion so far: The origin of the term “Cyber” itself, in conjunction with popular SciFi led a to biased perception what Cyber(netics) actually is.

At this point I would like to embed a little anecdote of Stafford Beer. Once he traveled to the US and had to show up his passport. The immigration officer looked at his job description and said: “Interesting, you are a Cybernetician – you are freezing people, right?”. Stafford answered (as far as I remember): “No, that is Cryonics, but never mind.”

So he changed his professional status to “professor”, because he got rid of explaining it over and over again.

Obviously many people thought (and still think) that Cybernetics is somewhat like a mix of a future science and alchemy – definitely related to mystical knowledge that can be only obtained by sacrificing a chicken liver on full moon. Or that it is connected with a global conspiracy which wants to control everybody’s thoughts… That is really a pity, because the basic concept of cyber is not that esoteric, spacey or control freak-like at all: It is just about the circular causalities that we humans encounter when we observe our environment (or inner-, outer-, sub-environments, what ever you want to specify it).

Unfortunately there is a cultural problem with the idea of ‘control’ –namely sup- or oppression. In my opinion this is narrow minded, since I am very happy to enjoy the autonomous self-regulatory activities of my immune system. Therefore a deeper look into Cybernetics offers the insight that viable systems are always more successful, if they distribute and share power within the system with THESE parts which have the “requisite variety” to handle the situation (which describes just a principle and not a ethical behavior or the perceived purpose).

This observation is indeed quite ancient and still very present.
And very powerful.

I dare to say: I am a Cybernetician.

Abstract for my workshop session @ emcsr 2016

I am really exited to attend at the European Meetings on Cybernetics and System Research in Vienna! This is my abstract which will be published in the conference book 🙂


Field of Research: Applications of the Viable System Model

Headline: POSIWID – The Purpose Of a System Is What It Does

Subheadline: The VSM as part of a solution to cope with migration and demographic change

Name: Mark Lambertz, Institute for Acceleration


VSM_default_Version_Workshop Kopie

There are many global challenges that our civilization has to tackle. One important question is how an aging society will be able to sustain its internal stability and combine this with the enormous challenge of planetary migration trends.

The session will not only introduce the Viable System Model, but also extrapolate pragmatic strategic advices on how to handle related issues like the integration of migrating people.

The Viable System Model from Stafford Beer (Management and Cybernetics, 1959) is part of the discipline of Management Cybernetics and basically describes how a viable system is structured and which insights can be deducted in order to plan, implement and operate an efficient organization. It could be seen as the metaplan for an information network which ensures the ability to optimize the “inside and now” and integrate the demands of “outside and later”. The aspect of viability and its isomorphic character offer provoking thoughts for the traditional governance (management) and its approach to cope with complexity.

The model claims are strong:

  • Strengthening the internal cohesive forces (resilience)
  • Ability to adapt itself within non-linear environments (innovation)
  • Enhancement of the total agility of an organization (speed)
  • Provide meaning for every part of the system, thereby the true potential unfolds itself (intrinsic motivation)

The model explains how responsibility should be handled, how regulation between operation and governance must be designed and how autonomy and hierarchy must be balanced in order to fulfil the designated purpose of a system.

Further more the session will cover the basic concept of control in terms of Ashbys Law of Requisite Variety, which could be understood as Newtons Gravitational Laws of Cybernetics. In this context Variety is meant to be the measure of possible states of a system. Without a fundamental understanding of the concept of control by absorbing variety, it is very difficult to develop a normative, strategic and tactical framework for the addressed topics.

It is also very important to understand the Principles of Management in order to identify and design the system components and its relations with its operational neighbours. Only then each “part of a greater whole” can identify its natural tasks and start to operate as a service function for the other members of the organization. Basically this implies the insight, that the “machine room of migration and demographic change” must be equipped with the requisite resources and rules, thereby the needed Requisite Variety level can be achieved.

Besides the partially abstract Principles of Management the model offers a unique visualization of structure and processes within a viable system. Especially for visually oriented people the schematics of the VSM are a very good tool to understand the dynamics and interconnections of complex organizations which have to deal with complex environments. It makes it clear, why every viable system needs the collective intelligence of all members of the system and what responsibility actually means.

Of course the VSM is just a tool, which is more or less useful, and the model alone can not (dis)solve all problems within the special focus on demographic change and migration issues. But it offers diagnostic insights which help to identify practical options for action, so that the system can efficiently pursue its purpose and deliver the desired results.



Update – it’s been quiet for a while

Viable System Model



My post frequency on this channel was quite low in the last couple of months, but I dare to say there were some good reasons which kept me from blogging about my thought salad.

The first reason I have to mention is my Viable System book project , which will be really soon published (01.03.2016). What a crazy ride is about to end, from the whole writing experience up to the lectorate and refining it in million iterations. So many decisions (for a human brain). But finally the point has come where I know which micro details I want to add or change, so that I am able so say to myself: Let it go. It’s done. The typical 1/X curve (limes function aka: an ongoing optimization won’t make it better, or even worse).

Now it’s time to invest a little more energy into the “marketing” thingy and see what happens. Since it’s anyhow a fun project which fulfills many of my hedonistic thresholds, everything that will happen beyond that point is like the cherry on the cream. Most importantly I can cross out one of the items on my bucket list. 🙂

Luckily the book project is not everything, so there are new ideas what I want to explore next, but primarily I will focus now on the next venture. Its name is KOMPRENDI, the creole word for ‘understanding’.

More about this matter will be revealed, when the fermentation process is in its final stage.

Last but not least: I want to keep on to create acitivies around the “technological philosophical circle” called .

Business Model On A Barf Bag

It is sometimes funny how one can be hit by inspiration. And to feel this specific urge to get ones thoughts out of the brain. The following sketch happened on my recent flight to Finland. I took a barf bag (this piece of paper was the easiest to get), and I asked my mother for a pen.

Everything came out in a 10 minute session.

Of course this one does not represent the current state of planning or development of the next venture, but this reminds me on very new born babies: They actually look also not too sweet in the beginning. 😉

And somehow is the narrative of a Business Model On A Barf Bag very poetic – at least for me.