The cybernetics movements — страница 4

  • Просмотров 2289
  • Скачиваний 68
  • Размер файла 62

make a scientific revolution (Umpleby, 1974). The second Soviet-American conference was held in Estonia. Due to glasnost and perestroika the original topics (epistemology, methodology, and management) were expanded to include large-scale social experiments. At a conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 1987 the members of the American Society for Cybernetics decided to focus their attention almost exclusively on advancing second order cybernetics. (Umpleby, 1987a) EARLY 1990-S In 1990 two symposia on “Theories to Guide the Reform of Socialist Societies” were held in Washington, DC, and Vienna, Austria (Umpleby, 1991). These meetings were the beginning of a multi-year effort both to understand the changes occurring in the former Soviet Union from the perspective of social

theory and to use knowledge of social systems to guide the transitions. The work on second order cybernetics was also changing. The members of the ASC had worked almost twenty years on developing and promoting the point of view known as second order cybernetics or constructivism. Some people wanted to move from a period of revolutionary science to a new period of normal science. (Umpleby, 1990) One way to understand the change is to say that the period of engineering cybernetics lasted from the mid 1940s to the mid 1970s. The period of biological cybernetics or second order cybernetics lasted from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s. And the period of social cybernetics began in the mid 1990s. LATE 1990-S Symposia on the transitions in the former Soviet Union continued to be held as

part of the European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research. These meetings are held every two years in Vienna, Austria. The symposia bring together scientists from East and West. In Washington, DC, a series of meetings on the Year 2000 Computer Problem were held with the support of The Washington Post. These meetings were based on the idea that “y2k” could be regarded as an experiment which would reveal the amount of interconnectedness in our increasingly cybernetic society. (Umpleby, 2000) Niklas Luhmann’s writings in sociology introduced ideas such as constructivism and autopoiesis to social scientists in Europe. (Luhmann, 1995) A Socio-Cybernetics Working Group within the International Sociological Association was established by Felix Geyer and others. EARLY

2000-S In the early years of the 21st century large conferences on informatics and cybernetics were organized by Nagib Callaos and his colleagues in Orlando, FL. One result has been organizing efforts in Latin America stimulated by the conferences in Orlando. Annual conferences on reflexive control began to be held in Moscow and may lead to the founding of a Russian Association in the field of cybernetics and systems. In the International Society for the Systems Sciences there is growing interest in group facilitation and participation methods (Bausch, 2004). An increasing number of books about cybernetics appear, frequently by German authors. A Heinz von Foerster Society has been established in Vienna to further develop the ideas explored at the Biological Computer Laboratory. A

new biography of Norbert Wiener has been published. (Conway and Siegelman, 2005). The “global university system” created by the Internet and the Bologna process is not only greatly facilitating communication among scientists around the world but is also leading to a new metaphor for the social implications of cybernetics, an alternative metaphor to the “global brain.” (Umpleby, 2003a) QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HISTORY OF CYBERNETICS Given the promising and exciting beginnings of cybernetics, the outstanding scientists involved, and the subsequent impact of cybernetics on many disciplines, it is curious that the term “cybernetics” is not widely known or used today, even though most professional people spend several hours a day in “cyberspace.” Margaret Mead commented on

the development of cybernetics at the first ASC conference in 1968: We were impressed by the potential usefulness of a language sufficiently sophisticated to be used to solve complex human problems, and sufficiently abstract to make it possible to cross disciplinary boundaries. We thought we would go on to real interdisciplinary research, using this language as a medium. Instead, the whole thing fragmented. Norbert Wiener wrote his book Cybernetics. It fascinated intellectuals and it looked for a while as if the ideas that he expressed would become a way of thought. But they didn’t. (Mead, 1968) Why did the cybernetics movement break up following the Macy Conferences? Actually it never came together. People stayed in their home disciplines. Many very thought-provoking meetings