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The Skype presentation for the Prague New Digital Visions

( http://nmedia.avu.cz/?p=23 ) seminar – 12.12.2006

 

The Cybersyn project and the future of humankind

 

Leonid Ototskyhttp://ototsky.mgn.ru

leo@mgn.ru

 

 

It is great to organize such virtual seminar under the New Digital Visions !

 

      In the early 1950s Norbert Weiner predicted in his book “The Human Use of Human Beings” the  inevitability of “a WorldWide State” in the 21st Century –

http://www.amazon.com/Human-Use-Beings-Cybernetics-Society/dp/0380012731 ,  http://www.i-u.ru/biblio/archive/viner%5Fkibernetika (rus). This book offers a deep analysis of information processes as the foundation of a new structure of Society in the 21st Century. But this was only a prediction without providing detailed arguments. Such “details” with solid scientific foundation were made later by Stafford Beer (the father of management cybernetics). It was Norbert Weiner who had called Beer as “the father of management cybernetics” .

    Already in his first book “Cybernetics and management” -http://www.amazon.com/Cybernetics-management-Management-science-Stafford/dp/0340045949 ,  http://edurss.ru/cgi-bin/db.pl?cp=&page=Book&id=34866&lang=Ru&blang=ru&list=Found (rus) Beer had described an enterprise as a living organism. Later he developed the Viable System Model (VSM) as a recursive structure valid from the workshop of an enterprise to the state as a whole. Following  this universal structure Beer has extended the VSM beyond a state in his World Syntegrity Project ( http://www.worldservice.org/synhis.html ) . In the Wikipedia there is such quotation. “In 1986 Stafford Beer was appointed Coordinator of the World Cybernetic Commission of the World Government of World Citizens. Beer called for a World Syntegration with data fed from the Viable System Model for real-time ethical development of the planet.” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_government

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     Beer offers a powerful explanation of the VSM theory in his trilogy Brain of the Firm (1971), The Heart of the Enterprise (1979) and Diagnosing the System (1985). The first one has been translated and published in Russia three times. The last publication was in the 2005 - http://urss.ru/cgi-bin/db.pl?cp=&page=Book&id=27901&lang=Ru&blang=ru&list=Found .

    But his work was more than theory! Its practical implementation was done for a whole country. Beer was the scientific director of the Cybersyn project in Chile 1971-1973. I have already written that Cybersynwas strongly inspired by autonomy and flexibility, contrary to the bureaucratic hierarchy of the Soviet system…” (http://www.ototsky.mgn.ru/it/papers/stafford21.pdf ). This work was far more inspiring than the market oriented structures of the so called western democracies. Therefore it was not surprising that the USSR did not help the project and that the USA, through the CIA, helped Pinochet to destroy it. The great experience was literally killed then. 

      I have written in recent publications  about the importance today of that experience.

Some of them were published in English - http://www.ototsky.mgn.ru/it/computerra_menu.html , http://www.ototsky.mgn.ru/it/abroad_menu.html and the most in Russian. But these publications were oriented to the “computer community”. I believe steps must be made to widen the visibility of that work to catch the attention of society at large. For this purpose nothing could more significant that linking it to the work of artists. In this respect the work of the Chilean film and multimedia artists Enrique Rivera and Catalina Ossa about the Cybersyn project - is of great significance http://www.cybersyn.cl/ingles/home.html  . They are working in producing an interactive operations room for today’s concerns along the lines of the operations room developed by the Cybersyn project.  For this they are recovering its history by interviewing members of the project. My hope is that this work will open a worldwide forum to disseminate this most significant work. It should be easier to implement this heritage as “prototypes” in “more compact” countries than in the “big Russia”. The first experience  of  the VSM implementation had been made already in the Cybersyn project and it is symptomatic that the Enrique’s presentation today concurred with the Pinochet burial .