Heinz von Foerster Festschrift

Biographies

Heinz von Foerster
Born 1911 in Vienna, Austria. From 1962 to 1975 he was professor for biophysics and 1958-75 director of the Biological Computer Laboratory. Together with Warren McCulloch, Norbert Wiener, John von Neumann, and others, Heinz von Foerster was the architect of cybernetics. In particular he developed a second-order cybernetics which focus on self-referential systems. As long-term director of the Biological Computer Laboratory in Illinois he provided an fruitful platform for studies of complex systems and had essential influence on many scientists.
Alex Andrew
graduated in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University, Scotland, then joined the Departments of Physiology and Psychological Medicine there. Part of this time was spent on leave of absence with Warren McCulloch’s group in MIT. Work in Glasgow was largely on electronic instrumentation for neurophysiology, and also on neurophysiology as such, and in MIT was on the visual system of the frog.
He then worked on machine learning at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, England, and gave a paper at the first IFAC Congress, Moscow 1960. He then joined the management consultancy firm SIGMA, managed by Stafford Beer, for 2 years, followed by a year in Heinz von Foerster’s group in the University of Illinois, and was then a member of the Department of Cybernetics in the University of Reading, England, until he took early retirement in 1982 and joined with his wife Joyce, as a firm “Viable Systems”. The academic year 1987-88 was spent in the University of the Aegean, Izmir, Turkey, teaching Artificial Intelligence.
A paper written in 1965, while with Heinz von Foerster’s group, introduced a principle of “Significance feedback” of which one version is equivalent to the “backpropagation of error” that came later and is the basis of most of the work on artificial neural nets in recent decades. The paper is: A.M. Andrew, Significance Feedback in Neural Nets. Report of Biological Computer Lab., Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, 1965. Reprinted in: Int. J. Systems Research and Info. Science, vol. 6, pp. 59-67, 1993.
Dirk Baecker
Professor of Sociology at the University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany. He studied sociology and economics at the universities of Cologne, Paris-IX, and Bielefeld and did his dissertation and postdoctoral dissertation in sociology at the University of Bielefeld. He was research fellow at Stanford University, California, at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, and at London School of Economics and Political Sciences, London. He has published, inter alia, Die Form des Unternehmens (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1993, 21999), Postheroisches Management (Berlin: Merve, 1994), Organisation als System (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1999), Wozu Kultur? (Berlin: Kadmos, 2000, 22001), Wozu Systeme? (Berlin: Kadmos, in print), and edited Problems of Form (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999) and Archäologie der Arbeit (Berlin: Kadmos, in print). He is co-editor of the journal Soziale Systeme: Zeitschrift für soziologische Theorie. E-mail: dbaecker@uni-wh.de.
Pille Bunnell
Pille Bunnell is a systems ecologist who specialised in the integration and exlanation of various disciplines from a systems perspective for specialists in other domains, for policy makers, and the public. She acted as the Director of Environmental Literacy with an international consulting firm (ESSA Technologies Ltd.) where she conducted integrative projects on Adaptive Environmental Management with concerns ranging from fisheries, to land use management and climate change. Dr. Bunnell designed and co-authored the first State of Environment report for BC, and developed public school curricula on ecology, including a line of multimedia educational games collectively known as FutureQuest. Over the past several years she has shifted her focus to cybernetics, and has been writing papers and books concerning the nature of complex systems and human cognition, and the practical applications of this to the multifaceted relations between humans and the biosphere. She has been teaching the biology of cognition at the University of British Columbia and has presented many seminars on this topic. She is the President of the American Society of Cybernetics.
Rodney Clough
Design consultant, writer and educator, Rodney Clough teaches visual communications and advertising design at The International Academy of Merchandising and Design, Chicago and at Columbia College. He is committed to “real life” projects whereby design students collaborate with non-profit organizations to identify social issues and build public awareness. Currently, Rodney is working with students to design advertising campaigns and collateral for America’s Second Harvest, a nation-wide food rescue organization and Central City Housing Ventures, which provides homeless clients with an apartment, job training and social services. Rodney lives in Chicago with his wife, Linda Jo Victor Clough. He can be reached at rodclough@hotmail.com.
Frank Galuszka
Frank Galuszka is a painter and a professor of Art at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has had twenty four solo exhibitions since 1970 and has been included in over sixty group shows in the United States and in Europe.
He arrived at UCSC from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where he taught in Painting and in Graduate Studies and where he chaired the 1993 ASC conference, “Cybernetics in the Art of Learning.”
He served as a Commissioner on the Philadelphia Art Commission from 1988 through 1992, Chairperson of the Art and Architecture Committee and as member and chairperson of the Public Art Council of the City of Philadelphia.
Galuszka was president of the American Society for Cybernetics from 1994 to 1999.
David Eisenman
Ranulph Glanville
studied architecture, followed by cybernetics (his PhD was examined by Heinz von Foerster, and his supervisor was Gordon Pask) and then human learning. He has published extensively in all three fields. He has taught in Universities around the world. Although he took early retirement, he currently teaches at University College, London, UK, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. His hobby is whichever of his interests he is not currently doing. The photograph, taken by his wife Aartje Hulstein, shows him,  shortly after retirement, on honeymoon in Australia, heading towards the Senior Citizens’ Club in Glanville, a suburb of Adelaide.
Charlotte von Glasersfeld
A native of New York, Charlotte von Glasersfeld (née Anker) graduated from Brooklyn College and then had a fellowship at Smith College. She studied with sculptors Aaron Goodelman and Robert Cronback, and later at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Instituto de Allende in San Miguel, Mexico. She developed her own style in figural ceramic sculpture and her early work was shown in Mexico and Spain. From 1971 to 1983 she had an honorary work station at the Arts Department of the University of Georgia. Her later work has been shown in galleries in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia, and in New York and San Francisco.
Ernst Von Glasersfeld
was born in Munich, 1917, of Austrian parents, and grew up in Northern Italy and Switzerland. Briefly studied mathematics in Zürich and Vienna and survived the 2nd World War as farmer in Ireland. Returned to Italy in 1946, worked as journalist, and collaborated until 1961 in Ceccato’s Scuola Operativa Italiana (language analysis and machine translation). From 1962 director of US-sponsored research project in computational linguistics. From 1970, he taught cognitive psychology at the University of Georgia, USA. Professor Emeritus, 1987.—At present Research Associate at Scientific Reasoning Research Institute, University of Massachusetts. Dr.phil.h.c., University of Klagenfurt, 1997. Books (among others): Wissen, Sprache und Wirklichkeit, Vieweg Verlag, Wiesbaden, 1987. Linguaggio e comunicazione nel costruttivismo radicale, CLUP, Milano, 1989. Radical Constructivism: A way of knowing and learning, Falmer Press, London, 1995 (German translation: Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1996; also Portuguese, Korean, Italian translations. Grenzen des Begreifens, Benteli Verlag, Bern, 1996. Wege des Wissens, Carl Auer Verlag, Heidelberg, 1997. Wie wir uns erfinden (with H.von Foerster), Heidelberg: Carl Auer 1999. (Italian translation in press). More than 240 paper publications since 1960.
Joan Goldsmith
Joan Goldsmith has been an organizational consultant, coach, and educator for the past thirty years, specializing in leadership development, organizational change, conflict resolution, and team building. She has been a family therapist, a coach to women leaders, and co-author with Warren Bennis of the best selling, Learning to Lead: A Workbook on Becoming a Leader, published by Addison Wesley. She has served on numerous boards of directors, and been an advisor to the Woman’s International Health Coalition, Disney Institute for Women Entrepreneurs, Women’s Lens on Global Issues, and Women International League for Peace and Freedom, and a speaker at national and local conferences on issues of women in leadership. Building on her past experience as a family therapist, as a coach and consultant, she has specialized in supporting individuals in improving their skills, life and work patterns and organizations. In January l997, her book, Thank God It’s Monday! 14 Values We Need to Humanize the Way We Work co-authored with Ken Cloke, was published by McGraw Hill. Her most recent books published by Jossy Bass/Wiley and co-authored with Ken Cloke, are Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job (January, 2000), and Resolving Personal and Organizational Conflicts: Stories of Transformation and Forgiveness (August, 2000). Their book, The End of Management and The Rise of Organizational Democracy will be published in January 2002 by Jossey Bass/Wiley. In the non-profit sector and in educational reform, she has been an advisor on organizational issues, school change, curriculum development and teacher education. She is an Associate of the Synergos Institute, which is committed to international, collaborative partnerships to end poverty in the Southern Hemisphere. She has had professional engagements in Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, the Bahamas, Japan, China, India, the Netherlands and Great Britain. She is a founder of Cambridge College, a former member of the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and holds a Master of Arts in Social Sciences and a Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Timothy Gorter
Stefanie Grüssl
Life landscape: born in the Zodiac sign of the lioness on 24/7/1960 in Graz. Lively in Vienna, married since 1999 with Gerald Grüssl. Collection of experience: ceramics, oven building, and a good mixture of drawing lectures at Graz Arts and Crafts College. Studies in product design at the Faculty for Applied Arts, University of Vienna. Degree obtained in 1994–the year Stefanie met Heinz von Foerster the first time. After 1994 co-operation with designers, advertising agencies, craftsmen, economic and scientific institutions but also free lancing in design, photography, drawing, and painting. Since 1999 employed at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour. Visible: www.stefanie-kunst.at Numerous exhibitions and participations in exhibitions in Austria and abroad as from 1975 (Graz, Deutschlandsberg, Salzburg, Frankfurt, New York, Halbturn, Budapest, Klagenfurt, Steindorf, Feldkirchen, and ever and again Vienna...) Publications and various contributions in Sterz, Wiener Journal, Ursache & Wirkung, Augustin, Freecart, Boomerang.
Ilka Riccarda Hoffmann
is a Diplom-Psychologist, born 1964 in Germany. She has been a research assistant at the Brief Therapy Center at the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California, for two years. During that time she also conducted her Chronic Pain Project as a research associate at MRI, exploring a new way to treat chronic pain. Currently her main focus is the evaluation of this project for her doctoral dissertation in Berlin, Germany.
Alfred Inselberg
Alfred Inselberg (AI) was born at a very early age. It was such a shocking experience that it left him speechless for 1 1/2 years. The place was Athens, Greece. He studied at the UofI(CU). Serendipidy lead him to BCL in June 1959 and he became “von Foersterized.” AI received a Ph.D. in Applied Math and Physics in 1965 and, through the incredible powers of HvF, he was appointed Assistant Prof. in EE and BioPhysics there. In Sept. 1966 he joined IBM (International Brotherhood of Magicians) where he served for 30 years in the Scientific Centers and Research. He was able to escape to academia, albeit occassionally, in the faculties of UCLA, USC and Technion, Ben-Gurion and now Tel-Aviv Universities. While still a graduate student, AI fell into a Multidimensional Black Hole and in order to find his way out he developed “Parallel Coordinates”—a way of visualizing Multidimensional Geometry (and Multivariate Problems). The methodology became widely accepted and applied. Still under the amazing spell of HvF, AI spends his declining years collecting palindromic and numerological digressions while writing a book on Multidimensional Visualization and Hi-Tech entertainment.
Georg Ivanovas
Born 1953 in Germany, Russian-German origin, studied medicine in Munich and Bonn. Education in Gestalt-Psychotherapy, Homeopathy and Therapy with Natural Means (Naturheilverfahren). Lives since 1992 in Crete, Greece. Practices Homeopathy and Psychotherapy in Heraklion. Currently working on his thesis on “Systemic thinking in medicine” at the University of Crete.
Kevin Kreitman
Dr. Kreitman earned her Master’s degree in Cybernetic Systems from San Jose State University in 1986, and her Ph.D. in Systems Science from SUNY Binghamton in 1992. Her dissertation developed a set of formal cybernetic principles underlying successful quality efforts, which have since been effectively applied in a variety of business and organizational settings. She has consulted, taught, and worked in applied systemics since 1986. Her major concern in life is why systems which look like they should work, don’t—and how to design systems which do. She spent six years teaching systems, first- and second-order cybernetics, system dynamics, and complexity at the university level and continues to work with interested students in this area. Her prior experience also includes a year as a motorcycle mechanic, three years as an over the road trucker, two years as a professional musician, and several years in small business operations, management, and administration.
Humberto Maturana
His a biologist who gained his PhD at Harvard, specialising in neurobiology. In the early 1960s he was a research associate at MIT where his work on vision led to the celebrated paper with J. Lettvin, “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain.” This established a distinctive tradition of cognitive inquiry in neurophysiology which he presented in a book Biology of Cognition in 1970, after his return to the University of Santiago, Chile. He subsequently entered into a long collaboration with Francisco Varela, another neuroscientist at the University of Santiago. In 1980 the two authors published Autopoiesis and Cognition, the key reference work on autopoiesis, and their introduction to cognitive biology, The Tree of Knowledge, was published in 1987. He is currently at the University of Santiago.
Elizabeth Pask
born 23 October 1929 in Liverpool. Read English at Liverpool University, and met Gordon at a party while still a student. Graduated in 1953, and did post-grad Certificate of Education at Cambridge. Married Gordon in 1956, after living with him for the previous two years. (Very daring in those days, but we were determined to be bohemian). Helped set up System Research, and worked with Gordon in that foundation until 1980, when it was made bankrupt by the Tory government cutting out all research funds, which coincided with a cutback in funds from the USA. Two daughters, Amanda Elizabeth Mary—born 26 October 1961 and Hermione Charlotte Jane—born May 21 1967. After bankruptcy Gordon worked in Holland and Canada and Elizabeth retrained as a secretary and worked at Imperial College—could not join Gordon in Canada as was refused a visa for medical reasons (cancer of the breast in 1981). Gordon returned to England in 1986 and they set up house in Clapham. Elizabeth continued to work at various secretarial jobs full and then when became eleigible for a pension, part-time. Gordon became more handicapped by ill health and Elizabeth retired from work completely to look after him, full trime from 1990 to March 1996. Now lives in Kingston next door to daughter, Amanda, and grandson, Nicholas. Also has a granddaughter, Olivia May, born to Hermione on May 20 1998. Is currently attempting to write a biography of Gordon for the ASC. Elizabeth Pask died in July 2001
Andreas Philipp
Born 1968 in Munich. Studied economical sciences at the Universität der Bundeswehr and the Arizona State University. Promotion “Die Selbstverantwortung der Betriebswirtschaft” [Direct responsibility in business management]. Today, he is management consultant (http://www.phil-os.de), associate lecturer in Munich and Luzern, and externally making his habilitation with Prof. Wüthrich in Munich.
Bernhard Pörksen
Born in 1969, studied German Philology, Journalism and Biology. In his Ph.D. thesis “Die Konstruktion von Feindbildern” (The Construction of Foe Images), he investigated the language of neo-nazis. Currently, he gives lectures in Linguistics and Communication Science at the university of Greifswald, teaches creative writing, and works as a journalist in Hamburg. Together with Heinz von Foerster, he wrote the book “Wahrheit ist die Erfindung eines Lügners” (Truth is the Invention of a Liar).
Bob Rebitzer
As a freshman at the University of Illinois, Bob Rebitzer was privileged to participate in the von Foerster seminar that produced the Cybernetics of Cybernetics. He is a partner in Accenture, the world’s largest management and technology consulting firm. He specializes in business strategy, organization design and operations improvement for healthcare companies. He has a B.S. in Honors Biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana and an M.B.A. from the Anderson School of Managment at UCLA. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Miriam Arfin, and his two daughters.
Paul Schroeder
attended the University of Illinois, where he was introduced to Heinz and Mai by John White in 1967.
Jutta Schubert
Born 1953 in Dortmund, business apprenticeship from 1968–1971, study of certified pedagogy from 1975 to 1980 at the university of Hamburg. She studied cultural management 1990–1992 in Hamburg. Since 1980 she is living in Hamburg. She has been working for many years in the city district cultur. She has been developing cultural projects within the context of society. Since 1998 cultural projects (exhibitions, festivals, meetings, and congresses) referring to “Verrückte Kunst” [Crazy art]. Furthermore, projects withhandicapped and non-handicapped artists. In 1996 co-author of the movie “Tanz mit der Welt” [Dance with the world] by and with Heinz von Foerster.
Bernard Scott
is Senior Research Fellow and Co-ordinator of the Learning Environments and Technology Unit for the University of the Highlands and Islands Millenium Institute. His research interests include theories of learning and teaching, principles of course design and best practice in distance and on-line education. During the 1970’s Bernard worked with Gordon Pask studying styles and strategies of learning and helped develop conversation theory as a framework for understanding learning and teaching. He went on to train and practice as an educational psychologist. He returned to academia full-time in 1990 and has held positions in Liverpool John Moores University’s Open Learning Unit, the Open University’s Institute for Educational Technology, and De Montfort University’s Centre for Educational Technology and Development. Bernard is a Board Member of the Research Committee on Sociocybernetics (RC51) of the International Sociological Association, a Fellow of the Cybernetics Society (UK) and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Association.
Steve Sloan
Christina Waters
is a Bay Area journalist and lecturer at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her PhD is in Philosophy and she is currently completing an article on the phenomenology of imagination.
Paul Weston
Born in Maine, in 1935. Educated in one-room rural school in Maine, Univ. of Oklahoma Laboratory Schools, Wesleyan University in Connecticut (B.A. in Physics), and University of Illinois (M.S. in Physics, Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering). Served on Electrical Engineering faculty of University of Illinois from 1972 to 1998. Now retired and pursuing private interests in Champaign, Ill.
Wolfgang Winter
Professor of business management, esp. International Management at the University of Cooperative Education (BA) in Heidenheim. He was born 1965 in Munich. From 1987 to 1993, he was studying business management at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. From 1994 to 1998 scientific collaborator of Prof. Dr. Hans A. Wüthrich at the departement for Internationales Management, Universität der Bundeswehr Munich. In 1998, he received his Dr. rer. pol. [Ph.D.] based on the thesis “Theorie des Beobachters—Skizzen zur Architektonik eines Metatheoriesystems” [Theory of the observer—Sketches of the architecture of a meta-theory system]. Since 1994 independent management consultant. His main interests are selected topics of international management and the search for experimental areas for sociological systems theory, the Laws of Form and Second Order Cybernetics in business management.
Daniel Wolf
Born in Evanston, Illinois in 1950. Studied at University of Illinois from 1967-1976, obtaining B.S. in Physics and M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology, with emphasis on evolution of animal behavior and neurobiology. Graduate affiliation with Biological Computer Laboratory in 1971. Held positions in USA and the UK in the medical imaging and video game industries during the 1970s and 1980s. Independent consultant and systems developer since 1983, with work and publications in computer programming and graphics, cryptography, artificial intelligence, video production systems, and robotic applications. Author, inventor, artist, and musician. Long term interests: scientific computation, mathematics, biology, fractal art and animation, robotics and performing American folk music. Residing since 1987 in Santa Maria, California, which is close enough to Pescadero to permit periodic pilgrimages to visit the Von Foersters and from which location he has been unable to achieve escape velocity. Presently owner of Videobotics, a firm developing internet cybernetic technology.
Bob Zielinski

Heinz von Foerster Festschrift