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World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics
18. Congress-WOSC2021

Moscow, 27. to 30. September 2021



Systems approach and cybernetics, engaging the future of mankind -

The significance of systems and cybernetics in the future of societies

The significance of systems and cybernetics in the future of societies.

   Important world institutions, such as the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are publicly recognizing the highly interconnected nature of our world and therefore the relevance of systemic thinking and cybernetics as leading knowledge foundations to deal with the complexity of economic, social and environmental issues. This recognition by major international agencies of the CyberSystemic nature of policy issues makes apparent that in the context of the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics more than ever we need to debate and develop current ontological, epistemological and methodological approaches to understanding the future of humanity.

   WOSC is honored that the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) has agreed to be the venue for its 18th Congress (WOSC 2021). Scientists of this Academy have made important contributions to key issues of human society over the past decades. They have contributed to problems of nuclear disarmament, space exploration, the fight against terrorism, self-organization for strategic projects and many more. More recently, they have been developing aspects of socio-humanitarian cybernetics and of self-developing reflexive-active environments. Indeed, the RAS is a most valuable setting to support further developments of these and other issues.

   Our aim in WOSC 2021 is to bring CyberSystemic scientists, and in particular younger researchers, together with politicians and practitioners to debate pressing economic, social and ecological problems of humanity, at all levels from local communities to global societies.

   For this purpose, we propose to focus the discussions on the following four themes: firstly, philosophical and methodological foundations for the development of the systems approach and cybernetics; secondly, the cybernetics of society, ecology and governance; thirdly, subject, digital technologies and physical realities merging into a Hybrid reality , and fourthly, the transdisciplinarity of systems sciences and cybernetics applied to the further development of knowledge areas, such as education, medicine, economics and touristic services.


   Short summaries of these themes are introduced below.

1. Philosophical and methodological foundations for the development
of the systems approach and cybernetics

  Challenges and threats to the future of humanity are increasing pressure to develop and implement systemic approaches and cybernetics. We want to debate their philosophical foundations, with particular emphasis in ontology, epistemology and methodology. Focusing on the specifics of the formation of self-developing reflexive-active environments of hybrid reality. New ideas are needed concerning scientific rationality, the problem of the observer, transdisciplinary approaches, and problems related to complexity, reflexivity and ethics. We must increase the convergence of civilization and culture in the development of systemic approaches and cybernetics. Systems thinking and cybernetics should enable a rich social construction for an interrelated and coherent world.

  WOSC 2021 invites congress participants to reflect upon today’s critical crises situations, such as pandemics, climate change and social and environmental sustainability, from a systemic perspective with  an increased awareness of the complexity of the contextual constraints imposed by the structural coupling of social agents in co-evolution with their ecosystemic chains.  In this context of systemic thinking we invite reflections about designing communication mechanisms, from the local to the global, for which cybernetics should be a major contributor.  Social designing of communications and conversations, as well as the development of organisations with requisite variety are proposed as tools to respond to our current crises situations. 

  Awareness of complexity offers opportunities to develop the functionality and coherence of societies. Meta-contextual aspects go beyond the interactions of organisational actors and environmental agents, but need to consider their framing in cultural and meta environmental interactions. This way we can reflect on aspects of societal significance, such as ecological chains, constrained resources, as well as economic inequalities limiting fairness and justice. WOSC 2021 wants to make inroads into the mechanisms shaping interactions, communications and relationships in complex systems, whether communities, enterprises, government agencies, small businesses, families or people. In particular, we want to offer an opportunity for Congress participants to contribute empirical approaches, emerging from their practical experiences in the life-world of societal, ecological and economic situations. Epistemological and methodological debates about social boundaries, systemic structures and communication and interaction mechanisms can influence good practice and improve people’s contributions to society.

   Theme 1 Sections

  1. A World in crises; how can Cybernetics, Systems Thinking and new technologies help? (Stuart Umpleby, USA; Vladimir Lepskiy, Russia; Michael Lissack, USA; Paul Pangaro, USA)

  2. Critical Systems Thinking and the Management of Complexity (Viacheslav Maracha, Russia; Michael C. Jackson, UK)

  3. Ontological Cybernetics; methodologies to support self-developing reflexive-active societies (Vladimir Lepskiy, Russia; Raul Espejo, UK)

2. The cybernetics of society, ecology and governance

   From the perspective of current social crises, such as COVID-19, climate change and in general sustainable development, this theme wants to explore the interdependence of global and local policy making. The reach of national policies today may be distorted by poor understanding of autonomy. While autonomy may be desirable, when nations overreach this autonomy and make dysfunctional their relations with more global institutions, such as the United Nations Environmental Programme, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Health Organisation and others, the policy outcomes for the world as a whole can be disastrous. Nations are behaving beyond their natural autonomy with an unrestricted independence, thus making their contribution and collaboration to global policies dysfunctional and costly to humanity. This theme relates to the governance of pressing social and environmental issues in the age of the Anthropocene, experiencing institutional failures. Powerful insights are provided by the Westphalian dilemma, one of the sessions in this theme. This dilemma, by increasing the relevance of national decisions at the expense of a world in need for global decisions, makes responses to different forms of global crises extremely difficult. In this theme, we want to open conversations around policy issues in their local and global aspects, with an emphasis in ecosystems and organisational structures.

   Therefore, this theme aims at exploring cybernetics in several aspects of society, including its contributions to the development of healthy global ecologies, to the strengthening of participatory democracies, to decentralization of control, to effective governance of communities, institutions and nations. What can cybernetics and systems thinking contribute to debates about the network democracy and to the emergence of distributed collective intelligence? What can local, regional, international bodies of knowledge say about strategic control and development centres to initiate and support the consolidation of state, business and societal institutions?

   It is recognised that current democratic models are often dysfunctional, overwhelmed by big data, weakly supported by artificial intelligence, battling with an increasing variety of cloud computing suppliers and dealing with algorithms built upon a top-down direction, which, as implied by the Westphalian dilemma, built upon poor multilevel interactions. This makes it increasingly difficult to bridge global and local constructs and to provide constructive feedback loops. Effective interactions between citizens, experts and policy-makers in a world in which people’s actions are increasingly damaging the environment are posing uncontrolled challenges to the future of society.

   In democratic societies, we often relate decisions and policies as outcomes of direct, representative and participative forms of democracy, which need further development to be effective. This theme invites discussions of the significant distinction between the “wisdom of the commons” emerging from the citizens’ agency as they interact with policy-makers’ decisions supported by experts, think tanks and political parties, and all together, by citizens and policy-makers influenced by an ever stronger media. This distinction between people and policy-makers touches key aspects of communications in a complex world, dominated by big data, which in practice implies data overload for both of them. How do we increase societal capacity to identify, understand and react to the dynamics of their environment? For citizens of a country, big data may conflate their very local experiences with aspects such as the economy, migration, health services, environment and so forth, with the requirements and demands of global policies. Politicians, overwhelmed by data -in an uncertain world- may construct and impose their ego influenced truths propelled by their ideology, weak exposure to expert advice and short-term political interests.


   In WOSC 2021, we invite reflections on how to reduce the gap between sound evidence and wild emotional constructions, through effective ‘hybrid organisations’ and necessary innovation. We need to discuss our responsibility to create regulatory procedures to contextualize what we read and hear in the media and social networks. We invite reflections about the authenticity, legitimacy and truthfulness of the arguments advanced by those forming public opinion. It may be argued that the complexity of societal processes make impossible dealing with these challenges. However, it can be argued that complexity management tools such as organisational models, artificial intelligence, real time decisions, situation centres, operation rooms and shared media, displayed in the digital society, need the support of systems thinking and cybernetics to improve the quality of decisions. These tools carry some risks but also have the potential to increase the opportunities for more effective participation in policy and decision-making processes. We want to learn how to keep open checks and balances between multiple viewpoints to bridge gaps between emotional and empirical truths. We need to learn how to construct dialogues enmeshed in multiple moral mazes. This proposal for WOSC 2021 is an invitation for participants to contribute to the creation, regulation and implementation of more transparent societies.


   Theme 2 Sections

  1. Governance of pressing social-environmental issues in the age of the Anthropocene (Ray Ison, Australia; Sandro Schlindwein, Brazil; Igor F. Kefeli, Russia; Shann Turnbull, Australia)

  2. Institutions, nations and distributed organisation and control (the Westphalian Paradox) (Raul Espejo, UK; Clas-Otto Wene, Sweden; German Bula, Colombia; Markus Schwaninger, Switzerland; Allenna Leonard, Canada)

  3. Culture and Society, Citizenship and Democracy (Bernard Scott, UK; Tatiana Medvedeva, Russia; Matjaz Mulej, Slovenia; Zoraida Mendiwelso Bendek, UK)



3. Technology and humanity: co-developing a hybrid reality

   Hybrid reality is about the close interconnection of technology and people,  addressing their behaviours individually or as parts of groups or organisations. From a cybernetic perspective, this theme is addressing the convergence and integration of subject, digital and physical realities. It offers a debate about the amplification of individual capabilities, through organisation and technology, and the attenuation of different digital representation and constructions of their world, actively affecting their lives. Hybrid reality refers to the dynamics of people’s life worlds in increasingly ‘smart environments’, constructing these worlds as new technologies keep emerging.

   In WOSC 2020, we are inviting contributions on the state of the art of technological research and its applications through new tools, focused especially on their implications for people, organizations, societies and the environment. This theme wants to open discussions on computing in design and architecture, as well as on smart devices and environments (personal and organisational). It also wants to open debate about big data analytics and sharing, artificial intelligence, situation centres for development, energy and transport related issues, cyber security, health, blockchains and the convergence of technologies. The reasoning on technological feasibility should be advanced with implications for society and the environment: economic justifications, accordance to law, the ethical perspective, effects on the environment, and paths for identifying not yet recognised  consequences.

People are adapting to huge changes in their surroundings. They are invited to share their experiences and thereby contribute to producing group knowledge and responses to the social abuse of tools, such as Facebook, Goggle and Twitter. These reflections possibly should become the next meta-level of group consciousness. In the age of human-machine interdependence, the boundaries between individual and group intelligence are redefined, putting technology in everything we do and experience. Reasoning on group consciousness and clarification of these boundaries pose a challenge for WOSC 2020.

   This theme wants to give special attention to the design of hybrid reality elements. In addition to being subject-supportive, proactive, secure and providing value-added, the seamless supplementing of the natural and artificial in hybrid reality adds to the desired positive user experience.

We think that it is important to use cybersystemic thinking to manage the complexity of interactions in our hybrid reality to maximize its synergetic potentials on individuals and organizations and to avoid misuse and to mitigate undesired consequences.


   Theme 3 Sections

  1. Digital transition and smart self-organisation (Boris Slavin, Russia; Igor Perko, Slovenia; Francesco Caputo, Italy; Peter Ototsky, Russia)

  2. Socio-humanitarian Artificial Intelligence (AI) (Alexander Raikov, Russia; Massimiliano Pirani, Italy; Aleksander Ageev, Russia; Timofei Nestik, Russia)

  3. Systems Modelling, Analysis, and Decision Making under uncertainty (Sifeng Liu, China; Yingjie Yang, UK; Stefano Armenia, Italy; Jerzy Jozefczyk, Poland; Alexander Ryjov, Russia)

  4. Cybernetics and Control Science for Information Society​ (Mikhail Goubko, Russia; Alexander Kuznetsov, Russia; Andrei Khrennikov, Sweden; Yuri Slovokhotov, Russia)


4. Transdisciplinarity of systems sciences and cybernetics: developing areas of knowledge

In the world we know, a structural and long-term transformation is taking place. Centralization of communication platforms, rapid expansion and the use of artificial intelligence along with major environmental, demographic, socio-political and economic shifts are impinging on a major change in our society. This situation demands empowering of citizens to promote economic growth, sustainability, social justice, and political stability. In particular, youth should develop capacities to think and act differently, which requires a major transformation of our education systems.


Decision-takers all around the world in public institutions and private organizations are recognizing the complexity of issues (ecological, social, health, economic, energy, transport, migratory, etc.) and their interrelations. The underlying systems are intricately and intimately intertwined. The current narrative goes around economic competitiveness and focuses on supporting people to act in a digital and virtual economy leaving aside the enormous challenges humankind is facing, some of them existential. 


In the last four decades events like Chernobyl, the Global Financial Crisis, the Gulf Oil spilt , Fukushima’s tsunami and current pandemic have shown the danger of this lack of consciousness of the potential planetary effects of man-made decisions. Decision-takers need to use systemic approaches to cope with the complexity of these issues and ameliorate their impact in impending global crises. Crisis, in ancient Greek, refers to the breaking of connections.


Within the systems movement, a wealth of conceptual and methodological knowledge has been created that should help in these tasks. The challenge for researchers and practitioners is to make everybody, especially young people aware and knowledgeable of these foundations and proficient in their application. Cultivating cyber-systemic approaches, with their related ontologies, epistemologies, methodologies, methods, tools, and concepts provide ways of thinking and acting that allow developing such a collective consciousness. 


The aim of this theme is the cyber-systemic exploration of distinct social areas, and at the same time the search for connections, relations and transverse knowledge. What is that makes education unique in society? What is special to education that requires receiving both holistic attention and the development of particular communication mechanisms? What makes it different to the economic or the transportation systems?


What can be said about the commonalities of these systems in different regions of the world? What can be said about their cross cultural nature? How are they producing their unique hybrid realities? In all areas it is necessary to avoid fragmentation by facilitating the alignment of people’s purposes. What is unique about levels of self-organisation and self-regulation in each case? How are they addressing their interactions with their environments? What do their unique perspectives have in common? How to develop trans-disciplinary learning processes?


In a world increasingly requiring  interactions, one of the challenges is facilitating self-organization processes for the emergence of desirable values in societies and for the creation and production of related policies from the most local to the most global levels. These are processes, aimed at individual innovation as well as making more meaningful coexistence.


In this theme the invitation is to open debates to explore in specific areas people’s wide variety of possible interactions, communications and relationships to make them more effective. Through the investigation of specific institutions and evolving technologies for each of these areas, we foster discussions that guide, enable and facilitate interactions among existing, necessary and available resources to increase society’s requisite variety to deal with challenges to areas at different structural levels in different cultural contexts


It seems important to go beyond interdisciplinary approaches to develop a new transdisciplinary way of thinking and acting; a kind of indiscipline in which we must recover Aristotle´s practical wisdom. The WOSC Congress is offering a platform for cyber-systemic contributions of group discussions for collective synergy supported by state-of-the-art individual research.

   Theme 4 Sections

  1. Redesigning the Education System (Jose Perez-Rios, Spain; Clive Holtham, UK; Alfonso Reyes, Colombia; Aleksandr Kovriga, Russia; Nadezhda G. Bagdasaryan, Russia)

  2. Going beyond silos in medicine and health systems: the time for Systems thinking and Cybernetics (Marialuisa Saviano, Italy; Christian Pristipino, Italia; Vyacheslav Moiseev, Russia; Igor Alekseevich Gundarov, Russia)

  3. Advancing systems economics and economic cybernetics: A Look into the Future (George Kleiner, Russia; Vojko Potocan, Slovenia; Sergey Malkov, Russia; Anton Zur, Russia; Kate Farrell)

  4. Cybernetics, systems and the arts: embodied pedagogies and the amplification of reflexive capacities (Tom Scholte, Canada; Alexander Koblyakov, Russia; Clive Holtham, UK; Oswaldo Garcia)

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