Design Decisions and Police Practice —The President’s Series

Written by Angus Jenkinson · 3 min read >

January 27


06:51 pm - 06:51 pm

Event Category:

CybSights President's Series

The President’s Series features distinguished speakers on issues of our time, such as these practice questions

Hosted by our President, Dr. John Beckford FCybS, the CybSights President’s Series is a new programme that will bring interesting people together to explore the relevance and contribution of cybernetics to addressing important challenges.

Each event will consist of contributions by two different speakers. Each will be followed by individual Q&A. These are then brought together by the President in a lively and engaging plenary discussion. Each will seek areas of convergence and divergence between the ideas explored.

Events will be held via Zoom on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 1700 to 1900.

Meetings are open to members of the Cybernetics Society and also the general public. Non-members are invited to join or give a donation. Booking is required.

The Cybernetics Society has been hosting conversations and lectures since the late 1960s.

#2 : November 11: Deciding & Intelligence

Addressing the distinct “go” of cybernetics and its value for contemporary and future science and society, the two speakers explore decisions through design and policing, intelligence and ethical choice.

Introduction and Welcome: Dr. John Beckford, FCybS, President of the Cybernetics Society

FIRST SPEAKER: Dr Ben Sweeting, FCybS

Undeciding the decidable

Synopsis: Heinz von Foerster’s distinction between decidable and undecidable decisions is often taken to imply an ethics of personal responsibility, summed up in the phrase ‘only we can decide the undecidable’. Taken together with the invocation to ‘increase the number of choices’, von Foerster implies an ethics that is personal and pluralistic. This approach is helpful as a critique of moralism but it is a limited guide in situations characterised by conflict, inequality, or the need for collective action.

In this presentation, I return to von Foerster’s discussion of undecidability in order to suggest a different way of thinking about its ethical implications. Whereas von Foerster traces undecidability back to foundational metaphysical questions, positioning the ethical within a choice between distinct worldviews, I use the example of design to explore the decidable and undecidable within the context of practical tasks. I argue that it is not enough for us to decide upon (take responsibility for) the undecidable questions that we encounter: we must also undecide the decidable decisions that are given within the contexts in which we are living, increasing the number of choices as a process of critique rather than as a pluralisation of options.

_Dr Ben Sweeting FCybS teaches architecture and design at the University of Brighton. He studied architecture at the University of Cambridge and University College London, completing a PhD at the latter with Neil Spiller and Ranulph Glanville. Ben is an active member of the UK Cybernetics Society, the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC), and the Systemic Design Association and has co-guest edited special issues of Kybernetes, Constructivist Foundations, Cybernetics and Human Knowing, and FormAkademisk. Ben received the Heinz von Foerster Award from the ASC in 2014..

Followed by discussion and Q & A

SECOND SPEAKER: Professor Louise Cooke

Helping the Police with their enquiries: Managing knowledge in law enforcement.

This talk reflects on a varied body of work ‘helping the police with their enquiries’. It is no secret that policing is a knowledge-intensive and intelligence-led occupation. However, despite this focus on intelligence, many police forces would not hesitate to acknowledge gaps in their data, information and knowledge management practices. These include (but are not limited to) lack of uniformity and interoperability of systems, both within and between the 43 UK forces; information recording practices that date back to the turn of the twentieth century (the ‘bobby and his notebook’); information and knowledge silos; and a failure to grasp the opportunities offered by knowledge exchange with other emergency services. The talk will discuss a range of knowledge management-related projects carried out by the speaker in collaboration with a range of law enforcement agencies, and the key lessons learned from each. Bio: Professor Louise Cooke is Professor of Information & Knowledge Management in the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University. She has a BA in Library Science and Modern European Studies; an MA in Library and Information Science; and a PhD in Information Science. Her working career spans work placements at the ICI Paints Research Centre and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Pest Infestation Control Laboratory in Slough; the BBC Film & Videotape Library in Brentford; PAS Research; Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College; City University, London; and Loughborough University. Her research interests focus on information and knowledge management in the public sector, and particularly in law enforcement agencies; and regulatory mechanisms in information management.

Followed by discussion and Q & A and then

Plenary Discussion

The aim of this session, moderated by John Beckford, is to draw out the complementary and varied ideas emerging from the two sessions.

Prof John Beckford FCybS is a partner in Beckford Consulting, Non-Executive Chair of the Board of Rise Mutual CIC, a Non-Executive Director of both Fusion21 and CoreHaus (social enterprises) and Visiting Professor in both the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London and the Centre for Information Management, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University. John holds a PhD in cybernetics from the University of Hull, is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and of the Royal Society for the Arts and a Member of the Institute of Management Services. He is President of the Cybernetics Society.

Cybernetics Society – a learned society

The Cybernetics Society promotes and offers education and research opportunities in the rich field of cybernetics. In the CybSights series, including the President’s Series, we offer insghts conversations, lectures, case studies, analysis, education, and thoughtful entertainment.,

The Cybernetics Society – – is a specially authorised learned society regulated by the FSA and established by a 1974 Act of Parliament. To join visit our membership system or pick the Join ticket.

Cybernetics plays into and strongly influences many scientific and practice fields including design, epistemology, ecology, biology, psychology and living behaviour, technology and engineering, social policy, and business practice, amongst others. Many feature in this wonderful set of aware and successful designers and thinkers.

Cybernetics offers a distinct “go” — techniques — to address local and global challenges of the 21st century.

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