This paper describes a transdisciplinary theoretical-practical research, which address on the discussion about the possible applications of Multi-agent Systems, underlying the Maturana and Varela’s autopoietic concept considering the achievement of emergent results as heuristics to creativity. Autopoiesis (from the Greek “auto” which means “itself” and “poiesis” which means “creation”) describes the autonomous systems, able to self-reproduce and self-regulate, while iterating with the environment. In order to explore those concepts, we present Zer0, a game that invites the player to drift in a universe ruled by geometric shapes. Through interactions with other shapes, the player is able to evolve from a single line shape to more complex ones. Zer0 is a multi-agent system able to compose emergent music in real time. As interactions occur, chain reactions create the game soundtrack. There are two main agents involved: the player and the other shapes. While the player enjoys the ride, the other shapes are trying to interact with each other in order to expand their lifespan. The communication between agents is made through generated pulses, which are emitted by them and also serves as sonar, in order to perceive the environment.
Context: In this empirical and conceptual paper on the historical, philosophical, and epistemological backgrounds of second-order cybernetics, the emergence of a significant pedagogical component to Heinz von Foerster’s work during the last years of the Biological Computer Laboratory is placed against the backdrop of social and intellectual movements on the American landscape. Problem: Previous discussion in this regard has focused largely on the student radicalism of the later 1960s. A wider-angled view of the American intellectual counterculture is needed. However, this historical nexus is complicated and more often dismissed than brought into clear focus. Method: This essay assembles a historical sequence of archival materials for critical analysis, linked to a conceptual argument eliciting from those materials the second-order cybernetic concepts of observation, recursion, and paradox. Results: In this period, von Foerster found the “positive of the negative” in the social and intellectual unrest of that moment and cultivated those insights for the broader constitution of a new cognitive orientation. Implications: As a successful student of his own continuing course on heuristics, von Foerster left the academic mainstream to ally his constructivist epistemology with the systems counterculture.
Context: Thirty years ago, members of the systems science community discovered that at their conferences, more was being accomplished in the breaks than in the sessions. Led by Bela H. Banathy, they cancelled the sessions and created a conversation methodology that has proven far more effective. Dozens of conversations have now been held around the world. Problem: At a recent conversation in Linz, Austria, a team devoted its inquiry to the Banathy Conversation Methodology (BCM) itself, asking, in particular, how to develop and spread the methodology further, beyond the systems science community. Method: The team captured key features and benefits of BCM and developed new tools. Results: Described herein are the development of the methodology, its theoretical underpinnings, the methodology itself, heuristics for successful conversations, and an example of how the methodology is spreading. Implications: Ultimately, the hope is to develop the methodology in such ways that communities could apply it to meet significant challenges and co-create their futures.
Ernst von Glasersfeld (1974) used the phrase Radical Constructivism (RC) to clarify the meaning of Piaget’s constructivist epistemology. This interpretation was proposed in the context of a Piagetian compensatory early education programme in the USA. Much of the work that followed initially was directly related to subjects like maths and science. The implications of radical constructivism for social understandings led the present author to study stereotypes. This work emphasised the role of identity in prejudice. Identity reflects the social heuristics and world views of one’s culture. Balancing self-perception with acceptable cultural expression is a key to well-being, personal development and one’s social functioning.
Open peer commentary on the article “Making Sense and Meaning: On the Role of Communication and Culture in the Reproduction of Social Systems” by Raivo Palmaru. Upshot: The author addresses implications arising from socializing observer-dependent heuristics. Above all, Palmaru’s terminology is called into question since its conceptual deficiencies with regard to the relation between an observing system and its environments cause naturalistic fallacy. The author’s reply espouses a concise reanalysis of the complementary relations of fundamentally incomparable domains, namely the observer and the social system.
Context: The thoroughly second-order cybernetic underpinnings of naturalist theatre have gone almost entirely unremarked in the literature of both theatre studies and cybernetics itself. As a result, rich opportunities for the two fields to draw mutual benefit and break new ground through both theoretical and empirical investigations of these underpinnings have, thus far, gone untapped. Problem: The field of cybernetics continues to remain academically marginalized for, among other things, its alleged lack of experimental rigor. At the same time, the field of theatre studies finds itself at an impasse between post-structuralist semioticians and embodied cognitivists regarding key onto-epistemological issues. A program of research framing and utilizing naturalist theatre as a second-order cybernetic/cybersemiotic laboratory holds much promise in addressing both matters and lending credence to Ross Ashby’s assertion that “the discovery that two fields are related leads to each branch helping in the development of the other.” Method: After establishing the nature of the onto-epistemological deadlock within theatre studies, this article examines the application of cybernetic heuristics within naturalistic theatre, leading to a second-order cybernetic analysis of its processes of production and reception and the outline of an experimental program for exploring these processes further. Results: Foundations for a model of naturalist theatre as a cybersemiotic laboratory grounded in a novel operationalization of Gordon Pask’s conversation theory. Implications: The proposed laboratory could result in the generation of quantitative and qualitative research pertaining to several dimensions of second-order cybernetics; particularly cybersemiotics, which, as a result, may end up better positioned to help dissolve onto-epistemological deadlocks between constructivists and realists of all stripes across the academy and beyond. Constructivist content: I argue that an analysis of naturalistic theatre’s processes of meaning-making filtered through the constructivist ontological agnosticism of second-order cybernetics offers a productive middle way forward for those on both sides of the social constructivist/embodied cognitive realist divide, within and beyond theatre studies. The article draws upon the works of Gregory Bateson, Søren Brier, Ranulph Glanville, Heinz von Foerster, and Niklas Luhmann.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the heuristics course co-taught by Heinz von Foerster, Herbert Brün, and Humberto Maturana (1968–1969) influenced cybernetic research in the USA. Design/methodology/approach– The author accessed the archived material from three sources: the Herbert Brün Library, the University of Illinois Library, and the Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL) and interpreted these materials in light of the cybernetics literature, and the publications of the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC). Findings: The heuristics course had major consequences in von Foerster’s evolving critique of education, and in Brün’s work towards founding a School for Designing a Society. von Foerster radically reoriented the BCL toward unconventional course proposals. He also began to critique objectivity and positivism, shifting the foundations of cybernetics and proposing a meta-cybernetics. The year that von Foerster retired, the BCL and the ASC ceased to function. When the ASC returned in the 1980s it took on new emphases, including education and design. It appears von Foerster was pivotal in the shift of emphasis. Originality/value – The findings add new dimensions to the story of the decline of the BCL in the 1970s, and the re-emergence of the ASC in the 1980s with new emphases (such as design) that are not traditionally found in scientific research.