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.
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
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.
WOW! What a fantastic Reasons to be Creative festival! I am back at home and still full of energy and overwhelmed by the inspirational input I got. Additionally I met so many people and made new friends across Europe. Endorphine rush galore.
The advertised slogan truly fulfilled its promise:
Of course my impressions are insofar distorted, since I was a tiny tiny tiny part of the event – as one of the Elevator Pitch speakers, but later about that.
At first I want to emphasize the special atmosphere of the whole thing. It’s a perfect combination of a very well selected program, a beautiful venue and … John Davey, the creator and host of the festival (not to forget his wife and of course the whole crew – but John is “the face to the customer”). It is his personal presence, which creates this family/community like feeling for three days (or four ;-)). And as a good host he is the connector, whilst putting the speakers into the context of “reasons to be creative”.
But it is of course the content that matters (at least to me) and therefore the program/selection of topics and speakers was again wisely assembled. You have always a choice between techie/creative sessions – and especially the Inspired Sessions are a happening you never ever want to miss!
My subjective, personal highlights (it’s a spontaneously generated list, so it might refer to a certain kind of priority):
Why: “I’ve convinced myself that inside every single thing in the world there are hundreds of surprising ideas, connections and possibilities waiting to be discovered. I just need to look closer to find them”. Introduction from his book Variations on Normal. I think that tells everything. Follow the links and dive into his uni-/micro-/metaverse.
Jeff Greenspan, Be your own brand
Why: I expected a “how to sell yourself” presentation – maybe a bit cheesy – but I was totally wrong. The session was an insightful talk about the way Jeff developed as a person and how his job titles changed – and especially I liked the narrative of the “comma”. You grow as you do you evolve, and nothing is sure but doing “it”. Success is not guaranteed, so you have to do “it” (your project, idea, vision, …). Just ASK. Good message and very good pieces playing with social hacking. I especially liked the Edward Snowden monument and the story behind it.
Evan Roth, The Art of Misuse Why: It was fascinating to see him speaking with so much passion, personal openness and a honest portion of self irony about his projects, developments and intimate thoughts on the journey to himself. And by the way (and that’s what I love about this festival), I of course have seen already one of his early works:
David Lenaerts, A Peek at the Future of 3D on the Web
Why: It was very cool to learn about the current trends in 3D programming, covering a wide variety of sub topics like rendering methods, shading, smoke simulation, etc. Besides the technical explanations, which were pretty cool explained so that one could follow the conclusion, he gave insights into matters like the biological constraints, our perception system and what is “good enough”. The Porsche 911 web special is top nudge. Kudos again.
I could only add my personal insight, how we somehow transformed into a group of competing fellows. It’s nice to remember how we tried to give each other a good vibe, whilst mutually being aware of this adrenalin rollercoaster thingy each of us was going through. Nevertheless – we made it. But maybe this is just the Stockholm Syndrome … Sorry for joking, could not resist 😉 – But… I hope I can speak for all of us: We learned “something”, and that is IMHO the real point about the whole experience. Therefore I can only repeat what Geri already wrote: Apply for the session!
Last but not least I want to mention:
Another aspect that I like about the festival: It’s well – very smoothly – organized. And: I am a big fan of a proper AV equipment – and this stuff is high quality. The sound system really rocks. I attended on other “conferences” and it was a pity to see/experience the bad equipment and looking at disoriented people, running around in an non personal atmosphere.
And.. we got unlimited free vegan drinks for everybody! Redbull! 😉 har, har.