Details: ASC Cybernetics in the Future


This workshop will be founded on two main background ideas.

  1. Cybernetics is composed of ways of thinking, rather than collections of facts. It does not so much document what is known as propose ways of knowing and understanding.
    Thinking and doing have a circular relationship; as do understanding and acting (last year’s conference theme). Thinking does not “cause” doing in some linear manner, for doing also “causes” thinking. They influence each other in an endless circularity.
    So the cybernetics of this idea consists not only of circularity in thinking and in doing (along with other key concepts in cybernetics), but the circularity of thinking and doing together.
    This bi-level circularity, and the understanding that thinking without doing is worth no more than doing without thinking, constitutes a key point in/of second order cybernetics, which is concerned with what thinking about doing (and doing through thinking) involves, and how it can be achieved. We look for consistency in what we understand and how we act.
  2. Education (involving learning, teaching, stuff to be learnt, ways of learning and teaching, etc.) is a key area where we attempt to develop and change the way people think.
    Effective change is that which is wanted and owned by those who change. It is not imposed, but claimed.
    To help cybernetics be taken up in the wider world, we will enable (those involved in) education to claim it. This means to make available cybernetic material that is not only turned towards education, but freely available: that learners might study and that teachers might incorporate into their own teaching material.
    We will place our material on a website and will give our material away, free, under collective commons. Those that find the site (even if directed towards is) may use what they find, as they find appropriate.
    Thus, we, and they live our cybernetics and we will create a growing bottom-up groundswell of cybernetically informed thinking and doing, understanding and acting.
    It is in this manner that we move into the future: not only by new work, but also by a new way of making what we have to offer available to others. If we can do this then we will have a future to build and in which to develop: ways of thinking that are practiced by more and more people.


We see education as a crucial context for the introduction of cybernetic thinking and acting. The intention is to make available to, in and through education, key cybernetic understandings, both as topics to be studied, and as ways of studying.
This will include bringing together existing resources in new configurations (and providing guidance to and through these resources) as well as producing new resources. To bring together teaching and learning so both grow richer. And to help cybernetics grow from its association with education as we hope education will grow from its association with cybernetics.


Possible themes that can be addressed in this workshop include, but are not limited to:

  • Teaching and learning cybernetics as a subject: at all stages of education from kindergarten to university of the third age
  • Teaching and learning in a cybernetic manner
  • Teaching and learning to act in a cybernetic manner
  • Teaching and learning to deal with problems that arise from not acting cybernetically
  • Designing a curriculum as a cybernetic entity
  • The cybernetics of educational management
  • The cybernetics of the individual and the institution
  • Cybernetic perspectives on education, learning and teaching within a wider context

Four E’s: Experience, Ethics, Excitement, Enhancement
We see four tenets as being important across all themes in this workshop:

  • That learning is based in Experience, and that cybernetics is uniquely qualified to provide approaches to understanding learning from this perspective
  • That Ethics is of central and utmost importance in addressing education from a cybernetic perspective
  • That encouraging a change in ways of doing or thinking necessitates that we generate Excitement about the potential of applying cybernetic ideas to education
  • That we should see cybernetics as an Enhancement of, not a substitute for, other ways of thinking, and that what we offer up will need to “dovetail” with ways of thinking and acting that are current in the educational contexts at which we are aiming.