The Society is organized and directed by a Council of Management (“Council”), as provided for in its Rules. Members choose the Council members including trustees, officers (President and Secretary, Treasurer and Vice President), and other members with various volunteered responsibilities. Members may be recommended or offer to join the Council. Any changes to the Rules must be approved by Members. Governance and regulatory framework therefore follows successively from the 1974 Act and any updates, the Rules, and then Council protocols and agreed policies, including mandates to working groups and individuals. This still provides and encourages common sense, initiative and creative freedom within these principles, which are also part of a learning process.
CybSoc is therefore a member-led body — a loop which provides balance and agreement for its ongoing work.The Rules are received by the institutional authorities and provide the basis for our charitable and mutual status as a learned society.
The Council of the Cybernetics Society (2021-22)
As in the previous year, there have been significant changes in the Council in the 2021 AGM. They include a change in the Secretary and Treasurer as well as all general Council Members (bar one who moves from being Treasurer) and one new Trustee.
Angus Jenkinson FCybS withdrew from the position of Secretary due to the needs of a member of his family. He was liberally thanked in the Council and the AGM the difference he had made to the state of the Society during his two years on the Council. Paulo de Costa MCybS volunteered to replace him. Paulo is a consulting architect, who was encouraged to join the Council by Jenkinson the previous year.
After 10 years in service as the Treasurer, Bill Pratt FCybS retired from this Office and Steve Battle FCybS has taken over the role.
Dr Ben Sweeting FCybS and Jamie Acutt MCybS have both withdrawn from Council but not from services to the Society. Each of them leads a major project, Ben to develop the new Journal, which is one of the initiatives launched by Jenkinson, and Jamie as Webmaster. Both are very experienced in such roles. Ben is already on the editorial board of more than one journal and has been involved in launching others. Jamie is a world-class designer with particular experience in web and app development and user experience. Both will be consulted by the Council and become involved in relevant agenda matters.
Members will notice a continued increase in variety of the Council, for example its gender aspect. They will also note that whereas Council was almost entirely populated by Fellows, there are now three Members and a Student Associate, also shifting the age profile.
Prof. Martin Smith FCybS (continuing)
Lakkana Yalalaga MCybS (continuing)
Vanilla Beer (newly appointed)
Dr. John Beckford FCybS, President (continuing)
Dr. David Dewhurst FCybS, Vice-President (continuing)
Paulo Rui Goncalves da Costa MCybS, Secretary
Dr. Steve Battle FCybS, Treasurer
Dr. Caitlin Bentley FCybS
Prof. Louise Cooke MCybS
Omar Kharoti MCybS
Miguel Marcos Martinez MCybS
Bill Pratt FCybS
The Council of the Cybernetics Society (2020-21)
For most of the previous decades, Council members met 4 times a year in London. With the decision to push forward into new territory it agreed in early 2020 to meet monthly for two hours (online). It aims to follow protocols established by good order, the rules, and ‘orders in Council’, agreed working principles.
Dr John Beckford FCybS, President
Dr David Dewhurst FCybS, Vice President
Angus Jenkinson FCybS, Secretary
Prof Martin Smith FCybS, Trustee
Sally Ingram FCybS, Trustee
Lakkana Yalagala MCybS, Trustee
Dr Ben Sweeting FCybS
Jamie Acutt MCybS
Paulo da Costa MCybS
Dr Steve Battle FCybS
Dr Tony Glassborow FCybS
Dr William Pratt FCybS
They comprise a wide range of distinguished talents: Five as academics, Jenkinson and Smith have been full research/teaching professors, Beckford as a visiting professor, three with careers or partial careers in school education, four in senior executive business roles, six as professional designers or engineers — including two architects, two mathematicians, and four technology experts. (So several have multiple competency fields.)
In significant moves, Angus Jenkinson became the Secretary following his proposal of a Society “Vision” that was approved by Council. The role was intended to help initiate the plan. David Dewhurst, who had held the role for some 20 years moved to Vice President. There was also a new President, John Beckford, replacing Martin Smith who had also held the role for some two decades. He moved to Trustee, a significant legal role in the Society.
In June 2020, Council reviewed how best to operate within the then current rules from 1976. The following principles and protocols were agreed: (Changes to the Rules themselves are planned for 2021.)
CybSoc is a learned society. Its domain of knowledge includes regulation, the organization of processes towards desired ends, design, reflexive knowledge, governance and management and, generally, good order. This is not a complete list — just a characterisation of some factors important in considering our own self-management.
The vision of CybSoc includes growing significantly over the next 5 to 10 years. This would be in relation to regeneration of the cultural significance of cybernetics in science and practical affairs and its contribution to humanity’s handling of various current challenges (and messes). Growth will lead to more members, more activities, more scrutiny, more work to be done, and so on. This needs to be well-organized for both efficiency and to avoid embarrassment. The goal should be to reflect our own knowledge domain, “do things right”. That this must take account of different views of what is right and what is required is obvious.
This implies changes in the protocols and practices from some of those of the past while maintaining the values of science, learning, tolerance, respect, social and ecological concern and variety.
New Protocols (2020—)
- The purpose of the guidelines is to maintain a functional body by going into the requisite detail for review and recommendation. This should itself be subject to a learning process.
- The age, sex (or gender), nationality, colour, religious, sexual, or political preferences, and cultural background are in themselves irrelevant to suitability as an officer of the Council of Management, except that variety is useful. Officers of the Society shall carry out their responsibilities without prejudice or favour to any of such groups or communities.
- Relevant matters belong to an individual as an individual, such as ethical practice, cybernetic and general skilful experience, knowledge of people, resourcefulness, and goodwill for the Society.
- Composition of the Council at any time shall aim to achieve a rich variety of individuals subject to the requisite familiarity with cybernetics and the variety of capability necessary for the good order and performance of the Council, as indicated in Rules 13-19 and as commonsense may require.
- As a self-organizing body, the Cybernetic Society regulates itself by its own principles, consistent with its Objects (Rule 3). These establish it as a learned scientific body, promoting science, the efficiency and usefulness of members, and the setting up of high standards of knowledge and education. The composition of officers should reflect this and should be formed to maintain it.
- All officers have equal voice in the Council of Management subject to the usual discernment and the provisions of Clause 16. However, individuals responsible for a particular area are so far as reasonably possible respected in their matters.
- In finding a good succession plan that members will endorse, one or more subgroups (nominations) should review and check out possibilities and make recommendations to Council for it to give advice to members. The purpose of the exercise is to maintain a functional body by going into the requisite detail for any recommendation.
- Any other member may be proposed and seconded to stand against the nominated person. Such nominations should be made at least two weeks prior to the required notification to members of the forthcoming General Meeting
- The “further Council Members” of Clause 12.(1) shall be elected annually. They may not be trustees. Note should be made of the needs for: variety of members; skills in membership; webmaster and systems responsibility; communication and education development; availability of time and effort; and such other(s) as shall be indicated by Council according to its current development plan. Ideally, the group shall recommend not less than the number and not more than twice the number of persons required to fill the spaces.
- Special continuity is required amongst Trustees, Secretary, and Treasurer, who hold office “at the pleasure of the Society”. Council will however ensure a sensible timely review process and will consider their work and wishes at least every three to four years ahead of the next AGM, or as special conditions require.
- In the event of wishing to recommend any succession in Trustees, Secretary, or Treasurer, the guidelines of 6-7 above will apply. Council will then recommend a successor for the forthcoming AGM. [It is for the Members to agree as provided for in the Rules] Council may appoint a temporary person to hold the position until the next General Meeting if necessary.
- No stipulation being given in the Rules for the appointment of President and Vice President, the process is not to be constrained by any democratic, bureaucratic, or other regulation. The goal is to have persons who will have the rich respect of the Council and Society members. Along the same lines as outlined in 6-7, persons with good experience of the Society and cybernetics should identify and recommend such person(s) to Council whenever a change seems required. Council will advise members of their choice of successor. [It is for the Members to agree as provided for in the Rules]