Contributors are sought to help complete this
Introducing or "Beginning Cybernetics" Volume
Volume 1 Beginning Cybernetics:
Proposals for an Intermediate level Volume Two and
an Advanced Volume Three will follow.
Guidance for intending Contributors
Contributors should claim a topic and produce
about five hundred words with a specification of
supporting graphics. We want this to be easy because
you choose an area interesting to you.
This is definitely tabloid cybernetics. But
rigour must not be sacrificed. Harshest
criticism and strongly held views welcome, indeed,
necessary for success.
The next volume will be at the specialist magazine
level and the third learned journal standard.
Volume One is an overview of the scope and
applicability of our subject aimed at the General
Reader. We want to raise the profile of Cybernetics
and to make its methods more widely available. It is
possible your contribution will be rewritten by
someone who doesn't understand cybernetics. At most
500 words per topic and a sketch with supporting
description of diagrams and labels is required. The
aim is to have a double page per topic with 75%
Richard Gollner has agreed to Agent this project.
He has long had an interest in Cybernetics and his
wise counsel is a great asset to the project. He
suggests we consider a DVD to accompany. Many of you
will have met him at our last Conference. I suggest
some web site support also.
We have discussed progress and will continue to
develop the approach for a few more months. Contributions with the
fewest words and the best specs for diagrams are
likeliest to succeed.
Nothing is carved in stone. Proposals for new
topics, even reclassification or radical
restructuring are welcomed. Topics may be replaced or
improved, deleted or added to. We will consider
contributions from non-members and overseas
Cyberneticians are especially welcome to
There is insufficient historical perspective in
the subsections and the Experiments as formulated
will need marking and even supporting by tutors. More
emphasis might be given to demonstrations of
Quotes from Classical sources or the Founders
should be included where possible. There is, so far,
insufficient specification of the DVD
Contributors should consider references for a
further reading appendix.
One statement of the overall theme might be to illustrate
the circularity of processes, the differences produced and
the interactions of products, noting
coherences and decoherences (in the Rescher and spin sense).
Alternatives are invited and will be considered!
A Recursive Homeostat Model of Life, the
Universe and all that:
Universe, Galaxy, Solar System, Earth, Continent,
Nation, Town, Village, Settlement, Family,
Contract, Agreement, Concept, Molecule, Atom,
Philosophy and Cybernetics
Constructivist/Realist position. The Post
The Critic and the mechanics of the
Circuits and the Voltage problem. Heisenberg
Uncertainty in cybernetics. Superstition.
Laws of Form and difference
Cybernetics of Criticism: the perception and
correction of error
"All of life is an Experiment" Beer
The expts could be scattered throughout the
Introduction: Why we do Experiments
Verification and discovery: Establishing the
Comment : These need making more specific and
demonstrate effects rather than write
This really does need more work.
Elementary Experiments on air, water, light,
magnetism, electricity and chemistry with no
special equipment might fill the bill but the
cybernetic approach emphasising precise,
controlled, repetitive steps producing
reproducible results; vigilance in establishing
significant differences; recognition of and
minimisation of observer specific factors in
determining outcome other than proper
reproducible establishment of initial
Adopt conventional Lab notebook format;
Consider the history of
clocks. Determine the source of the regulation
difference signal in the water clock, balance
wheel and pendulum clock and describe it.
Consider the variety
transmission (bandwidth) of a telephone line and
a Broadband connection. Discuss the constraints
(including economic) on bandwidth. Is a picture
worth a thousand words? Discuss coding schemes to
resolve this question.
Walk down the street outside
your house. List formal communication and control
structures. Analyse the Dwellings and street as
an information environment. Identify adaptive
components. Consider circularity in the
equilibrium of compression and tension of
Discuss the principle
regulatory mechanisms of tree growth. Propose
Experiments to decide on CO2
source/sink for forest and grassland. Modify your
methods to be applied to ocean
Discuss the problem of queues
in the National Health Service. Using arguments
derived from the number of Doctors and the rate
of death decide a list of factors controlling the
Discuss the level of waste in
the Public Service. What are the factors involved
in controlling it?
What conditions must be met
for shareholders to tolerate incompetent and
wasteful managers in a company?
Simulate diffusion limited
aggregation on a computer. How are sticky
aggregates different from less sticky? What are
the implications for anti-coagulant therapy in
Perform diffusion limited
aggregation electro-chemically. Discuss its
serial and concurrent character. Construct a
training regime that might enable the aggregates
to act as associative memories. Propose
modifications to produce a "Babel Fish" acoustic
Estimate the number of bits
transceived by London. Show working and make all
Discuss estimating the
variety of the human brain. A wide range for the
upper and lower bound can be expected. Assume
1011 neurons each connected to between
1000 to 10000 nearest neighbour neurones. What
level of redundancy is there given 25 watts power
consumption? Can we estimate the percentage of
active neurons from this?
Choose a location and observe
the variation in rate of arrival of users of a
public service. Plot a graph. Record queuing
times and any other factors that might enable you
to describe loading and service quality.
Design a house. Distinguish
primarily adaptive and deterministic components
and components for communication and control.
Discuss technological constraints on developing
an adaptive dwelling.
Compare temperate and
tropical permaculture solutions for sustainable
market gardens. Discuss solutions that include
plant based solutions for dwelling houses.
Construct a Theory using
error minimisation as the formal test of
applicability in the domain of your choice e.g.
law, anthropology, psychology, or to some
engineering problem. Emphasise procedures to deal
with error as it is encountered and assumptions
made to detect error.
Discuss the merits of
serialisation and limitations in respect of
formal systems. Contrast with concurrent systems
e.g. in structural mechanics, role playing
Contrast the serial digital
computer with the parallel machine. Discuss forms
of analogue computation. Discus means of
implementing truly field concurrent computers.
How might a formal specification and output be
Draw the topologies for
current and voltage feedback amplifiers.
Distinguish parallel and series feedback.
Identify transconductance and transresistive
types and applications for the four types.
Consider statistical criteria
for distinguishing superstition in Theory from
adequately precise assumptions. Propose a series
Experiments in a field of you choice.
Compare and contrast Kelly's
Personal Construct grids with Gordon Pask's
Entailment Structures on a small series of
subjects for well defined concept domains of your
Discuss resonance phenomena
in Stafford Beer's Syntegrity Models and the
spherical Fullerenes. Construct models that may
predict the resonant frequencies.
Demonstrate the use of CT/IA
axioms in criticism. Prepare a criticism of an
old master painting, a nineteenth century
painting and a 20th Century modern abstract work.
Use consistent clearly stated criteria for
defining and reporting error. Comment on the
purposes of the artist.
Experiment 25 and 26
Repeat for three
novels and three plays.
Experiment 27, 28 and 29
economic policy. Use consistent and clearly
stated criteria for describing errors you
perceive and purposes. Repeat for a political
manifesto. Repeat for a religious belief. Discuss
any extensions to the Pask axioms required and
demonstrate their robustness in contrasting
Apply Beer's Viable System
Model to an Enterprise of your choice. Describe
how in changing variety in instrumentation and
staff the Enterprise can improve quality,
productivity and client satisfaction. Discuss how
phantom (unproductive) work adds stability at the
price of adaptivity. Discuss employee
dissatisfaction and phantom work. Discuss
corruption and waste in large companies and means
by which the subversion of Viable paradigm may be
Demonstrate the hydraulic
analogies in the System Dynamics approach and
apply to management systems.
Data for Experiments
Web Links to the greats and CybSoc!
More ideas please !
Initially all royalties will go to the
Cybernetics Society. Above a threshold, to be
agreed, contributors will be paid in proportion
to the size of their contribution.
Thanks to Professor Louis Kauffman, Professor
Martin Smith, Dr Angela Espinosa, Leonie Solomons,
Francesca Visconti, Stefan Wasilewski, Liss Werner
and Anthony Wilkes. The fun has just begun!