Phase Transitions and Criticality in the Collective Behavior of Animals — Self-organization and biological function

Complexity Digest

Pawel Romanczuk, Bryan C. Daniels
Collective behaviors exhibited by animal groups, such as fish schools, bird flocks, or insect swarms are fascinating examples of self-organization in biology. Concepts and methods from statistical physics have been used to argue theoretically about the potential consequences of collective effects in such living systems. In particular, it has been proposed that such collective systems should operate close to a phase transition, specifically a (pseudo-)critical point, in order to optimize their capability for collective computation. In this chapter, we will first review relevant phase transitions exhibited by animal collectives, pointing out the difficulties of applying concepts from statistical physics to biological systems. Then we will discuss the current state of research on the “criticality hypothesis”, including methods for how to measure distance from criticality and specific functional consequences for animal groups operating near a phase transition. We will highlight the emerging view that de-emphasizes the…

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Mindfulness and Behavioural Insights: Reflections on the Meditative Brain, Systems Theory and Organisational Change – Lilley, Whitehead, and Midgley (2022)

Prof Gerald Midgley says:

Here’s a new paper that I have co-authored with Rachel Lilley and Mark Whitehead, entitled “Mindfulness and Behavioural Insights: Reflections on the Meditative Brain, Systems Theory and Organisational Change”. Access is free – there’s no paywall.ABSTRACT This paper explores the impacts of the Mindfulness-Based Behavioural Insights and Decision-Making (MBBI) programme. Combining mindfulness with behavioural insights instruction, the authors have developed the MBBI programme through a series of iterative trials over the last ten years. In addition to fusing mindfulness and behavioural insights, this programme also draws on the theories of autopoiesis, anticipatory systems, the predictive brain and constructed emotions, which all challenge the common assumption that behavioural and emotional responses are automatic (triggered by given stimuli and not open to change through self-reflection). The paper explores the use of the MBBI in the Welsh Civil Service. Employing evidence from in-depth interviews with participants and a SenseMaker analysis, it rethinks the role of mindfulness at work, repurposes the application of behavioural insights training toward a more ethical and systemic direction, and develops a reflective approach to capability building amongst public servants.…

Wait, it’s all cybernetics?

b l a c k B o x

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▪️Plato introduced the κυβερνήτης (kubernḗtēs); the person who has acquired the art of steersmanship, as a metaphor for the adequate manager of a system.

▪️It became the 𝘨𝘶𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘳 in Latin.

▪️And the 𝘨𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘰𝘳 in English.

▪️André-Marie Ampère suggested that the future science of government should be called ‘𝘭𝘢 𝘤𝘺𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘲𝘶𝘦.

▪️In 1947 Norbert Wiener coined the term 𝘤𝘺𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘴 as a name for the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine. The science was established at the dawn of the digital epoch by a group of extraordinary people to provide humanity the ability to steer their systems through rapidly increasing complexity and to develop a functional frame for a healthy human-machine relationship. Due to the universality of cybernetics, many fields such as engineering, medicine, biology, sociology or psychology easily absorbed axioms and key concepts. From this emerged a new set of sciences that delivered tremendous achievements but swiftly became uprooted from their origin.

As a result, a core value of cybernetics – transdisciplinary dialogue, evaporated. The loss of dialogue is naturally accompanied by a deteriorated learning process and ethical decline.

That’s not a functional frame.

So, back to Plato!

Plato, The Republic, book VI:

“Imagine a situation like this, on one ship or many: a captain who outstrips everyone on board in size and in strength, but nearsighted, partially deaf, and with knowledge of sailing to match; sailors in mutiny over the navigation, each thinking that he ought to steer, though none has learned the skill or can point to his teacher or to the time when he learned it, who deny in fact that navigation can even be taught and are ready to cut down anyone who says that it can, always swarming around the captain begging for the wheel and sometimes, if one group persuades him and another does not, the one kills off the other or pitches them overboard, and, having stupified the noble skipper with drugs or wine, they take over and revel and party on the ship’s stores and sail as you’d expect of such rowdies, and on top of it all they praise as a navigator and sailor with knowledge of shipcraft the man who’s sharpest at persuading or coercing the captain into letting them rule, but denounce as useless a man who lacks this ability, refusing even to hear that a navigator must necessarily study the seasons and climates, the sky, the stars, the winds and everything else that pertains to his craft if he’s to become a true shipmaster, and that he will be a navigator whether anyone wants it or not, and disbelieving that 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙖 𝙨𝙠𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙧 𝙥𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙘𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙗𝙚 𝙖𝙘𝙦𝙪𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙙 along with navigation. In such a state of affairs, is it any wonder that the true navigator is called a useless, babbling stargazer by the crews of such topsy-turvy ships?”

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Association Française de Science des SystèmesENSAM, 151 Bd de l’Hôpital, Paris 13ème

L’Association Française de Science des Systèmes
Cybernétiques Cognitifs Et Techniques
est heureuse de vous accueillir

Réseau Intelligence de la Complexité | Faire pour comprendre, comprendre pour faire – Complexity resources in French, including the work of Jean-Louis Le Moigne, who died on November 16, 2022

Jean-Louis Le Moigne died on November 16.Sometimes words are inadequate to express the magnitude of our emotions. If, as Paul Valéry puts it, ”  Death speaks to us in a deep voice without saying anything  “, we still have, for those who had the good fortune to work with him, the memory of intense reflections, and for all numerous writings of Jean-Louis. Much more than writings, it is a work, if we take the time to reread, to reconnect the multiple threads and inspirations that have woven it “  on the way  ”. We will soon take the time for this tribute.March which saw him born, month of the beginning of spring and the prospect of harvests in the near summer, is the marker of Jean-Louis’ work. It announces the renewal, always identical to the cycles of previous seasons, but paradoxically always new and singular. Irreducible duality of the work of Jean-Louis and his friend Edgar Morin: ”  from Aristotle to HA Simon via R. Descartes and GB Vico  “, rooting oneself deeply in the soil of human thought to argue that this who organizes us is only a shadow of the possible. One option among a thousand others in the hope of a broader and necessary emancipation of the human.“  Make room for doubt?  Avoiding judging things too quickly and definitively, Jean-Louis’ work encourages us to begin by understanding what it means to “grasp reality” in its contradictions. But much more than that and beyond, to question ourselves deeply about the tools and categorizations that allow us to talk about this famous and elusive “real” always in the making but also, always marked by the path travelled.Among those who claim to belong to “the” complex thought, the original furrow that Jean-Louis has traced from the beginning is to consider it not as a tool that immediately resolves perceived problems, but as the way in which we commit ourselves humanly and if possible collectively in the intelligibility of these so-called complex systems: “  Our questions do not relate to the phenomena themselves, but to the multiple representations (designed models) that the actors concerned construct.  »The month of March also heralds the prospect of sharing the harvest, that is to say the nuggets of wisdom accumulated and deepened by Jean-Louis throughout his life. Jean-Louis has continuously sought to promote a space of epistemological expressions, that is to say of discussion of the processes of thought and modeling that we use to understand the realities that we consider complex. The “Modelisation de la CompleXité” association (AE-MCX) and its dedicated site – armed wing of Jean-Louis – succeeded in uniting all interested players, bringing together researchers and “reflective practitioners” without exception. Spanish hotel ? Alchemy of exchanges? Ecosystem of performative ideas? This possibility of expressing our diversities, understand to act ⇔ act to understand  ”.Everyone, aware of their intentions and possibilities, is part of this ongoing debate, where they feel the most comfortable, the most useful. Very unconventional! Speech certainly moderate and balanced – refusing to oppose the slogans to the slogans – but a force of persuasion which involved us in the adventure “Modelling of the CompleXity”.Come on, twilight is here: “  The wind is rising!… We must try to live!  (Paul Valéry) and we must try to continue the work of Jean-Louis. Tributes to Jean-Louis Le Moigne@edgarmorinparis 18hJean-Louis Le Moigne this great spirit, this good and generous man has just disappeared; he was the most lucid and creative master of systems thinking in its complexity. His work and his collaboration were of paramount importance to me. He was my brother and companion

Réseau Intelligence de la Complexité | Faire pour comprendre, comprendre pour faire

Recursive and teleological rationality involved in the modeling process of self – organizing socio-economic systems – Le Moigne

Posted by Orsan Senalp in various systems | cybernetics | complexity groups:

Le Moigne, a close friend and colleague of Edgar Morin argued that cybernetics, systems, tektology, and complexity are found integral in Morin’s framework. For Le Moigne, Morin’s Method Vol. 1 presents a synthesis of these four paradigms: “From “Cybernetic Modelling” to “Systemic modelling,” the Paradigm of OrganisaCtion initially formulated by the Russian economist A. Bogdanov and rather completely synthesized today by Edgar Morin in the first four volumes of “la Méthode,” gives us a general framework (or “Method”) which present the basic inquiring principles guiding the intelligible modelling of complex systems, and particularly of evolving socioeconomics organizations” (Le Moigne, p. 3 –

Complex Adaptive Systems | Facebook

In the CAS group, Helene Finidori links to Von Glasersfeld

Thanks for this Örsan! This is quite serendipitous, as I was reading about something similar yesterday (Von Glasersfeld –

The Ecology of Systems Thinking | Facebook

Systems Thinking Network on LinkedIn

SCiO group LinkedIn (members only but membership excellent value –

Le Moigne paper:

Also at

Réseau Intelligence de la Complexité

NERCCS 2023: Sixth Northeast Regional Conference on Complex Systems. MARCH 22 – 24, 2023 Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY

Complexity Digest

NERCCS 2023: The Sixth Northeast Regional Conference on Complex Systems will follow the success of the previous NERCCS conferences to promote the emerging venue of interdisciplinary scholarly exchange for complex systems researchers in the Northeast U.S. region (and beyond) to share their research outcomes through presentations and online publications, network with their peers, and promote interdisciplinary collaboration and the growth of the research community.

NERCCS will particularly focus on facilitating the professional growth of early career faculty, postdocs, and students in the region who will likely play a leading role in the field of complex systems science and engineering in the coming years.

The 2023 conference will be held as an in-person at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY.

More at:

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NECSI: Executive Program, Winter 2023

Complexity Digest

Certificate program preparing entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators, changemakers to anticipate, analyze and respond strategically to business problems in today’s world
The only constant in today’s world is change: change that constantly becomes more unpredictable, striking and rapid. Because of the increasing complexity of current business problems and their effects, traditional decision-making and strategy falls short.

Complex Systems Science (CSS) holds the key to success with a revolutionary framework to understand and react optimally to highly-dynamic scenarios. In two intense but enlightening days, obtain the only offered executive-focused introduction to CSS from NECSI, the leading research organization in the field.

When the unexpected occurs, you will be glad that you have Complex Systems Science and NECSI in your toolbox.

More at:

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Cybernetics for the 21st Century – Research Network for Philosophy and Technology | 技術與哲學研究網絡

Cybernetics for the 21st CenturyCybernetics for the 21st CenturyLectures and Symposium

Cybernetics for the 21st Century – Research Network for Philosophy and Technology | 技術與哲學研究網絡

Videos here:

Host:  Media Lab of Guangdong Times Museum, Research Network for Philosophy and Technology

Co-Organizer: Hanart Forum

The launch of the program is made possible by the support of M Art Foundation

Supported Networks: Research Center for Science and Human Imagination, Southern University of Science and Technology; CUHK (Shen Zhen) University Arts Centre; Shenzhen Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for Society (AIRS)

Supported Media:, The Thinker, LEAP

Supported by Guangdong Times Museum

Special thanks to Times China

Time: October 28th – December 16th, 2022

Lectures will be screening on Lecture Series | Medialab

October 28th
Andrew Pickering

Lecture: Cybernetics in Britain

November 4th
Slava Gerovitch

Lecture: Cybernetics Across Cultures: The Localization of the Universal

November 11th
Michal Krzykawski

Lecture: Cybernetics and Communism: Cybernetic Thinking in the Polish People’s Republic

November 18th
David Maulén de los Reyes

Lecture: Why Did Cybernetics Disappear in Latin America? An Incomplete Timeline

November 25th
Brunella Antomarini

Lecture: Leibniz’ Teleology, or A Pre-history of Cybernetics

December 2nd
Mathieu Triclot

Lecture: Cybernetics for the 21st Century? Or Ontology and Politics of Information in the First Cybernetics

December 9th
Daisuke Harashima

Lecture: Life-in-formation: Cybernetics of Heart (Cybernetics for the 21st Century)

December 16th
Katherine Hayles

Lecture: Detoxifying Cybernetics:  From Homeostasis to Autopoiesis and Beyond

December (time and topics to be announced)
Symposium: Cybernetics for the 21st Century

Art, Technology and Philosophy Symposium (II)
Cybernetics for the 21st Century

Cybernetics is not only an ephemeral and contingent event in intellectual history, but rather it presents itself firstly as a new science of machines, which breaks away from the mechanism of the 17th century, that is also the reason for which Norbert Wiener in his 1948 Cybernetics: or the Control or Communication in Machine and Animals could claim that cybernetic machines can live a Bergsonian time, namely a biological, creative and irreversible time, in contradistinction to the Newtonian time, which is mechanical, repetitive and reversible; secondly, as a universal discipline, which is able to unify all other scientific disciplines, and later also disciplines of the social sciences, exemplified by the work of Niklas Luhmann, Heinz von Foerster, Maturana and Varela, later called the Second Order Cybernetics; thirdly as a philosophy, or more precisely the latest development of Western philosophy, that which led to Martin Heidegger’s claim that cybernetics marks the end or completion of Western philosophy and metaphysics.

Today we don’t often hear the term cybernetics in universities, and Heidegger’s assertion that cybernetics marks the end of philosophy may sound reactionary since philosophy departments continue to exist, but cybernetics is no longer in the syllabus of university disciplines. The truth is that cybernetics has already been absorbed in almost all engineering disciplines as well as subjects of art and humanities, notably art, media studies and philosophy of technology, and therefore it has realized what it has promised as a universal method; The significance of cybernetics remains to be questioned and taken far beyond what has been characterized as Californian Ideology and its reminiscence. McLuhan said in an interview in the 1970s that the launch of the Sputnik marks the end of nature and the beginning of ecology. With the later image of the whole earth taken from the satellite in the 1960s, the earth became a veritable artifice, or a spaceship in the sense of Buckminister Fuller. It was also at this turning point that the relation between human, nature, and technology entered a new epoch.

This new epoch is where we are living, and more than ever, we are living in an epoch of cybernetics, however, we still easily fall prey to a dichotomy of nature and culture without really understanding the significance and the limits of cybernetics. We, moderns, are alcoholics, who failed to get out of the positive feedback of progress, like what Nietzsche describes in the Gay Science, the pursuit of the infinite leads to the realization that nothing is more frightening than the infinite. A new recursive epistemology in the sense of Gregory Bateson, which inherits cybernetic thinking while seeking to overcome its intoxication, is needed for the program of re-orientation. This new program can only set off from cybernetics and it can only survive by going beyond cybernetics.

This two years public research program of the Times Museum Media Lab titled “Cybernetics for the 21st Century” aims to firstly reconstruct the history of cybernetics, from the perspectives of different geographical locations, political projects and philosophical reflections; and secondly to ask what might be the contribution of the cybernetic movement to the new form of thinking that is urgently needed to understand and reorient our digital earth. The first edition of the program consists of eight lectures and two symposiums with the presentation of philosophers, historians of science, and sociologists, including Andrew Pickering, Katherine Hayles, Brunella Antomarini, Slava Gerovitch, David Maulén de los Reyes, Michal Krzykawski, Mathieu Triclot, Daisuke Harashima. The program is hosted by Yuk Hui and curated by Jianru Wu.

Host: Media Lab of Guangdong Times Museum, Research Network for Philosophy and Technology
Co-Organizer: Hanart Forum
The launch of the program is made possible by the support of M Art Foundation

‘Systems Thinking With Hexagons’ Anthony M Hodgson – and the ‘Decision Integrity’ website

Decision Integrity (DIL) is a research and coaching enterprise working on holistic approaches that benefit sustainable systems, projects, communities, organisations and societies with special emphasis on transformative resilience.

System Mapping

Hexagons for systems thinking, Hodgson (1992)

Major projects through a systems lense | survey from Michael Frahm

For systems ‘experts’ – can major projects benefit from the application of systems approaches?

Majorprojects through a system lense | empirio

Please be so kind and take part in this short survey about major projects and systems theory.

It will take just 2 minutes. It is anonymous, no entries like email, etc are necessary. (Please feel free to share )

It’s part of research by Michael Frahm


Don’t be put off by the German, the survey is in English!

Majorprojects through a system lensevon Michael Frahm

Majorprojects through a system lense | empirio

Wales Systems Forum | Facebook

The Wales Systems Forum has been set up as an independent Welsh body, by
Welsh members of the Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems. The
aim is to help extend systems understanding and capacity across all sectors of
Welsh society.
We are in the process of forming a Not-for-Profit company to offer training
and consultancy.
We will be developing a network of interested people from across different
areas of work and discipliones & running regular free online
seminar/discussion events online.
Contact us if you would like to be kept informed:

Wales Systems Forum | Facebook


Systemic Design Lab

Sys Lab is a research group at Politecnico di Torino, which explores methods and tools of systemic design for environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Systemic Design Lab

One fully funded PhD scholarship on Systemic Design at Politecnico di Torino (Italy)

from the PHD-DESIGN mailing list

Dear all,

At Politecnico di Torino (Turin, Italy), we are searching for a PhD student working on the research topic “Systemic Design to enhance industrial sustainability transition” (3 years, 100%).

The PhD programme is part of the Innovation Ecosystem NODES (Nord-Ovest Digitale E Sostenibile – which is the Italian for “Digital and Sustainable North-Western Italy”), funded by the Italian Ministry for Universities and Research within the framework of the PNRR (National Resilience and Recovery Fund). The main topic is the sustainable and circular transition of industrial models, focusing on the valorisation of agricultural, industrial and urban by-products from a systemic perspective.

The candidate will work on her/his/their research within our Sys – Systemic Design Lab and in collaboration with other disciplines and research teams involved in the research ecosystem.

The candidate will be based in Turin (Italy) in the facilities of the Department of Architecture and Design. It is possible to start the PhD programme remotely in case of long visa application times.

// Profile //
> Hold a master’s degree in design, design engineering or equivalent.
> Have a good knowledge of Systemic Design methodologies and approaches.
> Have skills in complex data analysis and visualization.
> Knowledge of Italian is not compulsory but is considered a preferential requirement.

// Apply //
> Deadline for application is 12 December 2022. The PhD programme is expected to start in January 2023
> For information and application, please write to:

The Complexity Lounge Meetup – Daniel Walsh – Principles for Working with Complexity, Tue, Nov 29, 2022, 12:00 PM EST

Daniel Walsh – Principles for Working with Complexity

Daniel Walsh – Principles for Working with Complexity, Tue, Nov 29, 2022, 12:00 PM | Meetup