History of the Society

A cybernetics society began in association with a club at Chelsea College and was then formally founded at King’s College London in 1968 after a group of five members conceived of the idea. They were the late Dr Haneef Fatmi, Dr Kevin Clifton, Dr David Hayes, Dr Alan Hill, and Dr Christopher Harris. Haneef Fatmi played a key role introducing many members and supporting the early development along with Dr DJ Stewart and others.

The Society was legally registered as a Specially Authorised Society under the Friendly Societies Act 1974 on 25 June 1976 and called the Cybernetics Society. It is established for the purpose of promoting science, in particular the advancement and diffusion of a knowledge of cybernetics pure and applied and especially promoting the efficiency and usefulness of members of the Society by setting up a high standard of professional education and knowledge. Special authority given on 10 June 1976 under section 7(1)(f) of the Friendly Societies Act 1974 entitles us to award the learned credentials of MCybS and FCybS for Members and Fellows of the Society.

Cybernetics personality. Former president of the Society 2002-2020
Cybernetics personality. Former president of the Society 2002-2020

Since 1968, annual conferences were usually held at King’s College, London until 2020 when the global pandemic lockdowns began. Many monthly scientific meetings also took place. Some of this is recorded in our archives and videos are also available on our YouTube channel. The Society was maintained therefore for half a century by a series of council members, notably Prof Martin Smith (President), Dr David Dewhurst (Secretary), and Dr D.J. Stewart (Vice President) for the first two decades of the 21st century. 

Beginning in 2020, new initiatives were taken following a vision and strategy paper offered by Angus Jenkinson, then a trustee and subsequently (2020-21) Secretary of the Society.

For a review of the history and development of cybernetics visit this page. 


Dr Fatmi’s history of CybSoc

This is a short history of the Society by Dr Fatmi, one of the founders and key early members:


Honorary Fellows

The Society has had five Nobel Prize winners in its list of Honorary Fellows as well as others cited for contributing to them, such as Prof. James Lovelock FRS CH CBE. Famous for the Gaia Hypothesis and inventor of the electron capture detector, which contributed to a Nobel prize for its recognition of damage to the ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases.

The election of an Honorary Fellow is made by the members following recommendations by Council. Proposals are invited each year. The award is our highest honour to the general field of research and practice and does not require prior membership of the Society. We also award Distinguished Member status to members who have made an outstanding contribution to the Society or community of cybernetics.

The award of Honorary Fellow has tended to go to eminent scientists (and historically to men therefore) but the Society also recognises contribution to the field of practice, where innovations deriving from and/or contributing to cybernetic theory and method have been exceptional.

Nobel winners

  • The late Sir James Black FRS, Nobel Laureate in Medicine for drug development.
  • The late Prof. Sir John Eccles FRS, Nobel Laureate in Neurophysiology.
  • Prof. Brian Josephson FRS, Nobel Laureate in Physics for his prediction of the Josephson effect.
  • Prof. Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS. Professor of Mathematics Oxford University. Nobel laureate 2020 “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.”
  • The late Prof. Abdus Salam KBE FRS, Nobel Laureate in Physics.

The first woman to accept an Honorary fellowship was Dr Carmen Hijosa, distinguished designer of fashion items and of an integrated recursive structure of vegan fibral materials, kind engineering processes within a circular economy, and social development initiatives.

The full list of Honorary Fellows is available here.

Photo taken by Angus Jenkinson FCybS ARPS.
Cybernetic scientist, founder of autopoiesis meeting the Dalai Llama


New 2021 Honorary Fellows

Dr Carmen Hijosa HonFCybS crosses the boundaries of design practice. As a famous designer from her early 20s she was invited by the to help with the development of the leather industries. From this base she became a design technologist with a PhD from the Royal College of Art, demonstrating practical processes for making and using a vegan alternative to leather with industrial scale potential (as large as the present leather industry). It is all based on waste reuse. No new agriculture is required. Indeed, waste is reclaimed for agriculture and turned to social benefit in local communities. This is a kind engineering practice forming a circular zero-waste ecological economy.  She is extremely well known in the fields in which she works including by many leading brands. 

Carmen was a highly regarded designer of fashion and fine utility end products in leather and textiles, when commissioned by the UN to improve leather industries in some developing countries. Suddenly aware of the ecological challenges and alternate options, with the agreement of the Philippines Design Council she began the above project lasting more than a decade leading to Piñatex, a new industrial scale fibral material from the fibre of pineapple leaves. From this material from waste with no waste, she formed a company and designed with various partners a complete international circular economy as an exemplar for a new way of managing industrial and agricultural processes with social benefits to local communities. She has also created a Foundation to work with developing world communities to develop design practices and better methods and with western brands and designers to encourage shifts in practice. The effect has transformed local economies, design practices, and become an acclaimed model, the first to offer such a material at industrial scale.  She therefore demonstrates a widely respected recursive design structure gaining or being recognised with various awards, such as Finalist for the European Inventor Award 2021 and TEDx speech.