About the Society

The Cybernetics Society promotes and offers education and research opportunities in the rich field of cybernetics. Cybernetic insights inform design and change practices, ecology, healing, technology and AI, and explain or inform many other phenomena. It is scientifically, and as a practice discipline, related to all fields of design. It offers a distinctive scientific locus deriving from the active (non-deterministic) behaviour of observers as observers responding to and navigating within their own contexts towards their own goals as do others together in ecological interdependence and co-development. This marks out a space of intercontextuality in which perceived situations and consequent actions are woven by organisms, machines, and humans in individual and collective orders. Humans have designed ‘smart machines’ of many kinds for millennia. These machines embed the ideas of their inventors and designers into their operational structures and processes in mimetic semblance of the living. (See for example descriptions of Grey Walters and his “tortoises” or The Antikythera mechanism assumed to be invented by Archimedes and used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses decades in advance. Cybernetic insights are relevant to

  • organization of behaviour towards goals, adapting to environment or context
  • reflexive awareness and learning
  • the ethical adaptation of these to complex or important problem situations and purposes in any field (including human and societal organization and issues, biological and ecological life, design of smart machines and systems, and education and learning)
  • ethical questions
  • knowing of the world, changes in scientific method and the understanding of science and causality
  • autopoiesis, a theory of life and evolution
  • perceptual control theory, about behaviour of all life
  • management cybernetics, used in business, e.g. via the VSM tool

We are very aware of many huge challenges in the world. We believe that humanity needs to address these urgently. Our Society is committed to supporting intelligent interventions.

Cybernetics offers a distinct ‘go’ — insights, organization and operations — to address local and global challenges of the 21st century. It 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. Information about cybernetics is available here.

Open society, social variety and diversity of interests

We are aware that historically a number of scientific disciplines have been dominated by men. That has been true for cybernetics as well. Despite a number of distinguished women and people of other ethnic backgrounds, WASP men have been most prominent. We are committed to continuing the opening up of cybernetics and science in general to a full variety of the world’s people and talents and to recognising and supporting their abilities. The Society’s Objects further include promoting personal competence and it supports career development for all who wish it within our resources. It fosters initiatives that enable members to make a difference that makes a difference, a phrase of Gregory Bateson and a key element of our purpose.

Membership, Rules, and Policies of the Society

The Rules of the Society are available to all Members on application to the Secretary. Types of membership and awards are described here.

Some of the Council Policies are listed on the Council page.

What we do: Value for members

Postnominals — accreditation for accomplishment

We have a unique distinction in awarding internationally the postnominals MCybS and FCybS, as well as Honorary and Distinguished Life Member categories, see details here). these demonstrate personal standing and recognition. For this, we have a formal Policy of Respect. It welcomes and actively seeks new members that meet the criteria relevant to its Objects. The process of recognising new members or reinterpreting their grades over time is one that deserves the greatest respect, for it involves conferring the public and formal respect of a distinguished learned society to a person. It also requires respect for the individuality of each applicant, recognising their personal distinctions on their own merits without regard to external factors.

In addition to the benefit of getting such accreditation, the Society aims to offer services and value relevant to members and our mission. This will evolve with resources, ideas, and member contributions.

Supporting cybernetics

Being a member and paying subscriptions means being a ‘friend’ of the Society and of cybernetic science. For example, it funds the Journal, which is offered via an Open Access (free subscription). It enables education and events to bring this approach to wider audiences.

Events: CybSights and Conferences

CybSights

People and insights feature in the wonderfully aware and successful designers and thinkers of the CybSights President’s and Insights series. In these online meetings, which happen twice a month, we offer conversations, lectures, case studies, analysis, education, and thoughtful entertainment. Topics include business and organization science, cybernetics’ influence in various sciences, design, problem solving, practice and theory, cognition, evolution, robotics and AI, ecology, political and economic organization, philosophy, methods and methodology, biology and autopoiesis, human behaviour and perceptual control theory, and much more.

Each meeting takes a different topic within the rich field of cybernetics and invites one or more informed persons to explore it. The diet is rich and varied and should be interesting to anyone interested in how the world works and how to make it work better for all. Meetings are open to members of the Cybernetics Society and to the public. Non-members are invited to join or give a small donation. Booking is required.

CybSights
Link to CybSights events

In the CybSights series, we offer insights, conversations, lectures, case studies, analysis, education, and thoughtful entertainment. Topics include business and organization science, cybernetics’ influence in various sciences, design, problem solving, practice and theory, cognition, evolution, robotics and AI, ecology, political and economic organization, philosophy, methods and methodology, biology and autopoiesis, human behaviour and perceptual control theory, and much more.

Each meeting takes a different topic within the rich field of cybernetics and invites one or more informed persons to explore it. The diet is rich and varied and should be interesting to anyone interested in how the world works and how to make it work better for all. Meetings are open to members of the Cybernetics Society and to the public. Non-members are invited to join or give a small donation. For more information on activities and schedule visit

Booking is required.

Annual Conference

There is an Annual Conference each year, the 53rd will be in 2021. We are moving towards implementing more than one conference each year.

Cybernetics personality, editor of CybSoc journal, ASC and CybSoc Council member
Dr Ben Sweeting, Cybernetics personality, editor of CybSoc journal, ASC and former CybSoc Council member

Journal, Cybernetics Live

We are launching a new Journal, its working title for now is Cybernetics Live. It will be lead edited by Dr Ben Sweeting (see photo) and an editorial panel. It aims to fit a gap by offering practical theory and case studies as well as alternative options such as visual essays. It is intended to launch in 2021/2022. It will offer an Open Access digital format to extend the opportunity for individuals to read and contribute, serving our purpose to promote cybernetic sciences and practice.

Education: OpenDoors

The OpenDoors series will offer introductory programmes in essentials and core aspects of cybernetics as well as enabling members to meet each other. It is primarily aimed at student and other Associates, but will also be open to Members.

Member communities

We aim to foster opportunities for members to engage with each other in learning and the pleasure of good conversation. Connections may also help with problem solving, career support, co-creation, and social community. Special Interest Groups, national Chapters and Sections also facilitate this.

When you join, complete your details so as to facilitate this.

Partnerships and Networks

The Society is a leading member of the worldwide network of societies, institutions, and networks engaged in cybernetics.

Humberto: Honouring Maturana. The Society was a founding member in 2021 of the Fescschrift programme for Humberto Maturana.

We collaborate with the American Society for Cybernetics. Our 52nd Annual Conference in 2020 was held in partnership with them and was very successful.

The Cybernetics Society is one of the 35 societies or institutions affiliated to the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics (WOSC). For more information visit its website www.cybsoc.org/wosc

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It is also a member of the UES-EUS Union Européenne de Systémique – European Union for Systemics. Here are details of their journal that we support.

It is a member of IFSR, the International Federation of Systems Research ***Link***

The Society has a close relationship with Kybernetes – The International Journal of Systems and Cybernetics, which is the official journal of WOSC. Papers presented to our scientific meetings and conferences can be assessed by Kybernetes editors for publication in this prestigious peer-review journal. Both traditional paper format subscriptions and Personal Electronic Subscriptions are available. For more information visit its website.