In this issue: remarks from keynote Dr. Brian Anderson, updated CFP, December conference count-down, and recent academic journal articles on cybernetics and labor.
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Conference Newsletter
Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century:
Thinking Machines in the Physical World

December 2015
Meet the Keynotes, Episode #1: Dr. Brian Anderson


With 2016 just around the corner, we are galloping along the road to the conference! In addition to news of an updated CFP (with an extended deadline for Special Session proposals) and the latest appearances of "Wiener in the Press," we are delighted to bring you, in this installment of the conference newsletter, some words from keynote speaker Dr. Brian Anderson.

Dr. Anderson is a distinguished professor at the Australian National University's College of Engineering and Computer Science (you can read his ANU profile here). We reached him in the midst of a busy conference in Osaka, and despite the hectic schedule he was able to provide a few fascinating tidbits about his work, his plans for Melbourne, and why he's excited about this conference:

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your research and its relationship to Norbert Wiener and the conference theme “Thinking Machines in the Physical World”?

Dr. Anderson: My introduction to Wiener filtering was through wanting to study what lay behind, or before, Kalman filtering, something I found out about in graduate school. As I learnt more about it, I discovered some unplugged gaps, and dealing with these took a few years, with the ideas eventually finding their way into a textbook coauthored with John B Moore. Subsequently, I found that other types of filters, for example hidden Markov Model filters, shared a number of semi-quantitiative properties with Wiener filters This whole process took decades, not months!

Q: What topics or ideas do you plan to focus on during your keynote in Melbourne, and what are you most looking forward to about sharing your work at the conference?

Dr. Anderson: I aim to paint a picture of the commonalities between Wiener filtering, Kalman filtering and Hidden Markov Model filtering. At the conference, I am looking forward to hearing other people’s viewpoints.

Stay tuned for details about our other keynote speakers in upcoming newsletters, as well as information about exciting pre-conference workshops and events that are in the works at the India Statistical Institute.

For the time being, 
we invite you to check out the UPDATED CFP (with an extended deadline for Special Session proposals), visit the conference website, and add your name to our linkedin group. In addition, join our mailing list to receive monthly conference newsletters that feature:
  • Interviews with keynotes Dr. James Hughes (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies), Prof. M. Vidyasagar (University of Texas at Dallas) and the IBM Watson team
  • Details about the conference location, venue, special events, and excursions
  • Important reminders as we continue along the Conference Count-Down
  • Recent media stories and scholarly articles related to Norbert Wiener and “Thinking Machines”
We look forward to seeing you in Melbourne in July 2016!
December Conference Count-Down: 
2 months: UPDATED DEADLINE for submitting Special Session Proposals, as well as Papers and Abstracts (14 February 2016) INSTRUCTIONS HERE
3 months: Confirmation of Acceptance (14 March 2016)
4.5 months: Complete Papers Due (30 April 2016)
7 months: Conference Kick-Off (13 July 2016)
For this month's "Wiener in the Press" selections, we present several recent academic journal articles that address issues at the intersection of cybernetics and labor (note that some access may be restricted and require institutional or personal subscription):
Eden Medina's article "Rethinking algorithmic regulation" argues that "The history of cybernetics holds important lessons for how we approach present-day problems in such areas as algorithmic regulation and big data." The paper takes Chile's 1970s "Project Cybersyn as a historical form of algorithmic regulation and use[s] this historical case study as a thought experiment for thinking about ways to improve discussions of algorithmic regulation and big data today." See Kybernetes 2015, Vol. 44 Issue 6/7, p1005-1019.
In "Alpha societies and requisite variety: a projected framework for governance, education, and work in the 21st century," George H. Kubik "define[s] a framework for projecting future leading-edge alpha societies [i.e. societies that are advanced as a platform for creating future forms of work and workforce preparation premised on continuous creativity, invention, design and innovation] based on the principle of requisite variety." This framework "is intended to enhance the ability of leading-edge societies to continuously leapfrog existing educational, social and economic trajectories." See On the Horizon (2015) 23.1: 16-24.
Elinor Carmi's article "Taming Noisy Women" "focuses on women who worked at Bell Telephone Company in the USA during 1930s and 1940s as telephone operators, and the training programmes they went through." She argues that "When the operators revolted [against a training program called "A Design for Living"], Bell realised power should be exercised through automated dial machines. This would then become an inspiration for cybernetics who aimed to control communication systems that constructed information’s correct behaviour, and consequently users." See Media History (August 2015) 21.3: 313-327.
In an article titled "Strategies of control: workers' use of ICTs to shape knowledge and service work," Julia Ticona "examines the way that different types of workers deploy strategies of control in concert with and in resistance to information and communication technologies (ICTs)." The paper draws from "interviews with service workers and knowledge workers" to reveal how they "deployed strategies of everyday resistance in concert with their ICTs to gain a feeling of autonomy within the power structures of their workplaces." See Information, Communication & Society (May 2015) 18.5: 509-523.
Richard Hall's article "The implications of Autonomist Marxism for research and practice in education and technology" "considers the relevance of Autonomist Marxism for both research and practice in education and technology." The article illustrates "how certain core Autonomist concepts enable a critical reading of developments in information and communication technology [within the circuits and systems of globalised capitalism]. These include notions of the ‘social factory’, ‘immaterial labour’ and ‘cognitive capital’, the ‘general intellect’ and ‘mass intellectuality’, and the ‘cybernetic hypothesis’. See Learning, Media, and Technology (March 2015) 40.1: 106-122.
In his article on "'French' Cybernetics," Christopher Johnson begins from the premise that "Norbert Wiener's Cybernetics was one of the most influential scientific books of the twentieth century," but looks to "the early French reception of cybernetics ... to explore how its themes and ideas were mediated to a French audience." By examining "the representation of technology" in several primary texts, Johnson argues for an "explanation of machine culture could be said to constitute a distinctively ‘French’ mediation of cybernetics, in many ways more systematic than that of Wiener's founding texts." See French Studies (2015) 69 (1): 60-78.

This is one of a series of Conference newsletters. 
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