The ASC offers two major awards to cyberneticians of distinction and / or contributions to the field of cybernetics: the Norbert Wiener and the Warren McCulloch medals. In 2007 the ASC Executive Board redefined these awards to clarify the distinction between them and the contexts within which they recognize their recipients. These awards will be made on an as needed/as deserved basis, and there may be years when no award is made, just as there may be years when several awards are made.

More recently, the ASC has begun awarding the Heinz von Foerster Award for young people participating in ASC annual conferences.

The ASC welcomes nominations for the Wiener and McCulloch Awards. For more information on the nomination process and the procedure for nomination submission, please refer to the nominations page.

The Norbert Wiener Medal

The ASC's Norbert Wiener Medal

The ASC’s Norbert Wiener Medal

The Wiener Medal for Cybernetics was originally established to recognize outstanding achievements or contributions in the field of cybernetics per se. It is awarded to individuals who have made a major and prolonged contribution to Cybernetics through work in the field, in any number of ways: for instance, through original work or through extensive support. The Wiener medal acknowledges achievement within Cybernetics.

The design of the Wiener medal is shown in the photo on the right. The front of the medal shows a bas relief of Norbert Wiener, and the obverse is inscribed with the name of the recipient.

The Warren McCulloch Award

The Warren McCulloch Award has been another American Society for Cybernetics citation issued in some years. Up until 2005, the McCulloch Award was a plaque, typically given to recognize significant applications of cybernetics. Currently, The McCulloch Award is given to a young academic at or near the beginning of their career for work of distinction and promise. It also recognises substantial work of a cybernetic nature applied outside the field itself. The McCulloch Award recognizes promise; and cybernetic achievement (by a person of any age) in other fields.

Recipients of Wiener and McCulloch Awards

The Heinz von Foerster Award

Heinz von Foerster

Heinz von Foerster

The Heinz von Foerster Award celebrates Heinz von Foerster, who was one of the founders of the ASC and of second order cybernetics. He founded and ran the Biological Computer Laboratory, and whose contributions to cybernetics, both public and academic, are outstanding and also beautiful.

The award is given to the young person whose contribution to the given year’s conference is voted most notable by the ASC Executive Board or by a judging panel established by the Executive Board, to have made the most significant and richest contribution to any and all aspects of the conference. The recipient is awarded a travel subsidy to the next year’s ASC conference (up to $500), free conference registration, and a year’s membership in the ASC. Recipients of the Heinz von Foerster Award are:

  • 2004: Elizabeth Simpson
  • 2008: Lee Worden
  • 2009: Kate Slaymaker and Melanie Meltzer
  • 2010: Robert Helland
  • 2011: Delfina Fantini
  • 2012: Philip Baron
  • 2013: Chathurika Kannangara
  • 2014: Ben Sweeting
  • 2016: Sunny Sanwar

Honorary Life Fellows

  • 2006: Ernst von Glasersfeld (1917-2010)
  • 2006: Mary Catherine Bateson
  • 2012: Klaus Krippendorff
  • 2014: Stuart Umpleby
  • 2014: Roger C. Conant

Other Awards

The American Society for Cybernetics occasionally presents other, special awards in recognition of service to the ASC or to the field of cybernetics.

  • 1986: Stuart A. Umpleby – “In appreciation of his sustained contribution to the American Society for Cybernetics as President from 1980 to 1983 and as a primary architect of the rebuilding of the Society”
  • 2009: Barbara Dawes Vogl – “… countless ASC members have benefited from the experience of Barbara’s curiosity and invitations. Recognizing her warm demeanor, inquisitive personality, dedication, and innumerable contributions to the cybernetics community, the ASC hereby makes this Special Award to Barbara Vogl. While she has a special interest in the practice of the ‘spiritual’, it has been Barbara’s spirit that has caught our attention and imagination. We are grateful for her contributions, which will surely inform new iterations of ASC membership for years to come.”
  • 2011: Randall Whitaker (Award Certificate PDF)
  • 2014: Aartje Hulstein (Award Certificate PDF); Aartje Hulstein and Ranulph Glanville award sculptures
  • 2014: Ranulph Glanville (Award Certificate PDF); Aartje Hulstein and Ranulph Glanville award sculptures

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