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January 2022

Propositions on cybernetics and social transformation: Implications of von Foerster's non-trivial machine for knowledge processes

Author(s): Young, R. K.

Journal/Book: Syst Res. 1996; 13: 605 Third Ave, New York, NY 10158-0012. John Wiley & Sons Inc. 363-370.

Abstract: Heinz von Foerster's distinction between trivial and non-trivial machines is extended by identifying three types of non-trivial machine. These distinctions are used to weave together 19 propositions on cybernetics and social transformation. The propositions offer a foundation for research on knowledge processes and the technology of knowledge. This research is characterized by questions that von Foerster has referred to as 'undecidable questions': questions which only we can decide; and the propositions are stated in such a way as to emphasize that. It is suggested that everyone has the ability to participate in social transformation and that cybernetics points to an opportunity to do so in a particular way. Heinz von Foerster, through both his work and his persona, has made this perspective possible.

Note: Article LD Richards, Old Dominion Univ, Dept Engn Management, Norfolk, VA 23529 USA

Keyword(s): cybernetics; social transformation; knowledge processes; non-trivial machine; undecidable questions; eigenrelations; art; time; emotionality

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