Conference Theme: Acting Cybernetically

When the sensorimotor rubber hits the phenomenal road, how does being a cybernetician make a difference that makes a difference to how we act and understand? What difference can cybernetics make to the ways in which we navigate the worlds of distinctions that we both construct and live?

Since “second-order cybernetics” shifted attention from observed to observing systems, its theoretical, epistemological and ethical bases have been extensively developed.Yet, the formation of second-order cybernetics remains an unfinished revolution.

Cybernetics is concerned not just with ways of thinking and understanding, but also with ways of living and acting in the world. This is reflected in the performative, material and socially engaged character of prominent cybernetic projects, such as Stafford Beer’s Project Cybersyn, the Fun Palace (on which Gordon Pask collaborated with architect Cedric Price and theatre director Joan Littlewood), and the School for Designing Society (Susan Parenti, Mark Enslin, and many others). This is also manifest in the contemporary resurgence of cybernetics and systems thinking within creative disciplines, challenging and clarifying practice, research and education; and in the ambition, first articulated by Margaret Mead at the inaugural meeting of the American Society for Cybernetics, that cybernetics be organized in accordance with its own insights.

How, though, do commitments to second-order cybernetics manifest themselves in our daily experiences and relationships? How do we (and how may we better) see ourselves, act, relate, and live on this planet earth? Is it enough to lay claim to an epistemology without having it engage with our practices in the world?  We say we include “the observer”; but then what? The acknowledgement of inclusion is not an end in itself, but raises questions over who is and is not included in what, how inclusion becomes manifest, and on whose terms it is based.

This conference is open to scholars and practitioners in all fields. As well as work within cybernetics, the ASC welcomes work centred in other disciplines including that may inform and be informed by cybernetics.  Exploratory work, creating new connections, is especially welcome Please join us on the breath-taking campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam peoples. Come and enact your response to the conference’s rallying call: “You’re a cybernetician – act like one!”

Please register your participation in in this conference by clicking here.