Why Logosofia for an assault on situational complexity? Alexander Kritstakis – online, Wed 1 Feb 2023 at 13:30 UK time

The Operational Research Society Systems Thinking Special Interest Group, the Centre for Systems Studies at the University of Hull (UK), and the Linnaeus University Systems Thinking Community (Sweden) are partnering in a new seminar series. Our first seminar is announced below.

Please register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/…/why-logosofia-for-an…

If you want to be on our mailing list for future events, sign up here: https://www.theorsociety.com/…/specia…/systems-thinking/


1.30pm to 3pm (UK time) on 1 February 2023 (online – register using the above link.

ABSTRACT. Situational complexity is a phenomenon that emerges when groups of stakeholders congregate to address wicked problems. It emerges as the combined effect of three distinct observational complexities. The seminar will discuss the role of the Logosofia software platform, which has been developed to support the methodology of Structured Dialogic Design (SDD), in launching an efficient, effective, and ephemeral assault on situational complexity. SDD is a problem structuring approach that integrates proposed policy options from multiple stakeholders into a model that all the stakeholders can commit to implementing.

Why Logosofia for an assault on situational complexity? Tickets, Wed 1 Feb 2023 at 13:30 | Eventbrite

Viable System Model: A theory for designing more responsive organisations – Integration and Implementation Insights

Viable System Model: A theory for designing more responsive organisationsJanuary 24, 2023By Angela Espinosa

Viable System Model: A theory for designing more responsive organisations – Integration and Implementation Insights

Complex systems in the spotlight: next steps after the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics

Complexity Digest

Ginestra Bianconi et al 2023 J. Phys. Complex. 4 010201

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics recognized the fundamental role of complex systems in the natural sciences. In order to celebrate this milestone, this editorial presents the point of view of the editorial board of JPhys Complexity on the achievements, challenges, and future prospects of the field. To distinguish the voice and the opinion of each editor, this editorial consists of a series of editor perspectives and reflections on few selected themes. A comprehensive and multi-faceted view of the field of complexity science emerges. We hope and trust that this open discussion will be of inspiration for future research on complex systems.

Read the full article at: iopscience.iop.org

View original post

RIP Javier Livas

Very sad to receive the below message from Allenna, Angela and Jon at Metaphorum

It is with sorrow that we inform the Metaphorum Community of the death of Javier Livas-Cantu on January 17 of this year at age 76. Javier was a Mexican constitutional lawyer who became interested in cybernetics and came to the 1981 SGSR (Now ISSS) Conference in Toronto to meet Stafford. Many conversations followed, culminating in Javier bringing Stafford to Mexico City for the better part of 1983 to assist his attempts to introduce cybernetics into the Mexican government. Although these efforts were not ultimately successful, they did help Javier advance his cause of fair voting and government improvements in Mexico. Javier was very passionate about Sttaford’s theories: he wrote articles (See “The Cybernetic State’), made videos and recorded podcasts in both Spanish and English over decades and participated in several Metaphorum conferences – most recently in Huizen in the Netherlands and Leeds, UK. He was a dear friend and an important member of our community and will be missed.

Allenna, Angela and Jon

Naturalized Teleology: Cybernetics, Organization, Purpose | Saches (2023)

Naturalized Teleology: Cybernetics, Organization, Purpose


The rise of mechanistic science in the seventeenth century helped give rise to a heated debate about whether teleology—the appearance of purposive activity in life and in mind—could be naturalized. At issue here were both what is meant by “teleology” as well as what is meant “nature”. I shall examine a specific episode in the history of this debate in the twentieth century with the rise of cybernetics: the science of seemingly “self-controlled” systems. Against cybernetics, Hans Jonas argued that cybernetics failed as a naturalistic theory of teleology and that the reality of teleology is grounded in phenomenology, not in scientific explanations. I shall argue that Jonas was correct to criticize cybernetics but that contemporary work in biological organization succeeds where cybernetics failed. I will then turn to contemporary uses of Jonas’s phenomenology in enactivism and argue that Jonas’s phenomenology should be avoided by enactivism as a scientific research program, but that it remains open whether enactivism as a philosophy of nature should also avoid Jonas.

Naturalized Teleology: Cybernetics, Organization, Purpose | SpringerLink

Stigmergic coordination and minimal cognition in plants

Complexity Digest

Ric Sims and Özlem Yilmaz

Adaptive Behavior

The tricky question in the plant cognition debate is what theory of cognition should be used to fix the reference of cognitive concepts without skewing the debate too much one way or the other. After all, plants are rather different to animals in many respects: they are not motile, do not possess central nervous systems or even neurons, do not exhibit an invariant morphology, interact with the world in a distributed multi-centred manner, and behave through changes in their physiology. Nonetheless, there is a significant strand in the debate that asserts that plants are indeed cognitive. But what theory of cognition makes sense of this claim without baking in prior zoological assumptions? The aim of this paper is to try out a theory of minimal cognition that makes the claim of plant cognition plausible. It is primarily inspired by the distributed cognition literature…

View original post 108 more words

Applied Systems Thinking in Practice Resources | Open University

Resources available online

Members of the Systems group at the OU had a significant influence in piloting what is now the University-wide Open Research Online (ORO) – making OU research publications freely available online.

We have also had a long tradition of developing resources that may be used by others externally in pursuit of supporting the application of systems thinking in practice, particularly on OpenLearn.

Badged Open Course

A freely available open online 8 week course (approximately 3 hours/week) called Mastering Systems Thinking in Practice introduces systems thinking in practice at postgraduate level.

Applied Systems Thinking in Practice Resources | School of Engineering and Innovation

Many other resources in source:

Applied Systems Thinking in Practice Resources | School of Engineering and Innovation

Analogies at the edge of reason

Petter Holme

Making analogies is the engine of human intelligence, but for humanity as a whole, and our collective-intelligence enterprise called science, it is an obstacle. I’ll try to expand on that in this, maybe not the sharpest of posts.


In science and life alike, we use analogies as shortcuts to form hypotheses. Any other strategy—experimenting, making observations, statistical inference, etc.—is more expensive and time-consuming. It’s like a dude excited about how different his new girlfriend is from his ex, but cheers her up with fresh flowers because it worked in the past. … hmm, did that analogy bring my point home? Maybe not entirely, and that is the point. Whatever picture analogies put in our minds are biased approximations at best, often setting us off in the wrong direction.

When network science became popular among physicists about 20 years ago, the research questions and assumptions were, with few exceptions, straight…

View original post 424 more words

Objects of consciousness – Hoffman and Prakash (2014)

Objects of consciousness

Donald D. Hoffman1* and Chetan Prakash2

  • 1Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Mathematics, California State University, San Bernardino, CA, USA

Current models of visual perception typically assume that human vision estimates true properties of physical objects, properties that exist even if unperceived. However, recent studies of perceptual evolution, using evolutionary games and genetic algorithms, reveal that natural selection often drives true perceptions to extinction when they compete with perceptions tuned to fitness rather than truth: Perception guides adaptive behavior; it does not estimate a preexisting physical truth. Moreover, shifting from evolutionary biology to quantum physics, there is reason to disbelieve in preexisting physical truths: Certain interpretations of quantum theory deny that dynamical properties of physical objects have definite values when unobserved. In some of these interpretations the observer is fundamental, and wave functions are compendia of subjective probabilities, not preexisting elements of physical reality. These two considerations, from evolutionary biology and quantum physics, suggest that current models of object perception require fundamental reformulation. Here we begin such a reformulation, starting with a formal model of consciousness that we call a “conscious agent.” We develop the dynamics of interacting conscious agents, and study how the perception of objects and space-time can emerge from such dynamics. We show that one particular object, the quantum free particle, has a wave function that is identical in form to the harmonic functions that characterize the asymptotic dynamics of conscious agents; particles are vibrations not of strings but of interacting conscious agents. This allows us to reinterpret physical properties such as position, momentum, and energy as properties of interacting conscious agents, rather than as preexisting physical truths. We sketch how this approach might extend to the perception of relativistic quantum objects, and to classical objects of macroscopic scale.

Frontiers | Objects of consciousness

Article on Hoffman:


And video interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJukJiNEl4o

Fitness Beats Truth in the Evolution of Perception – Prakash et al (2020)

Fitness Beats Truth in the Evolution of Perception

Chetan Prakash 1Kyle D Stephens 2Donald D Hoffman 3Manish Singh 4Chris Fields 5

Affiliations expand


Does natural selection favor veridical percepts-those that accurately (if not exhaustively) depict objective reality? Perceptual and cognitive scientists standardly claim that it does. Here we formalize this claim using the tools of evolutionary game theory and Bayesian decision theory. We state and prove the “Fitness-Beats-Truth (FBT) Theorem” which shows that the claim is false: If one starts with the assumption that perception involves inference to states of the objective world, then the FBT Theorem shows that a strategy that simply seeks to maximize expected-fitness payoff, with no attempt to estimate the “true” world state, does consistently better. More precisely, the FBT Theorem provides a quantitative measure of the extent to which the fitness-only strategy dominates the truth strategy, and of how this dominance increases with the size of the perceptual space. The FBT Theorem supports the Interface Theory of Perception (e.g. Hoffman et al. in Psychon Bull Rev https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0890-8 , 2015), which proposes that our perceptual systems have evolved to provide a species-specific interface to guide adaptive behavior, and not to provide a veridical representation of objective reality.

Keywords: Bayesian decision theory; Evolutionary game theory; Evolutionary psychology; Fitness; Interface theory of perception; Perception; Veridicality.

Fitness Beats Truth in the Evolution of Perception – PubMed

Paper (some kind of preprint?):

Click to access FitnessBeatsTruth_apa_PBR.pdf

International Society for Systems Sciences (ISSS) conference in South Africa 17-23 June 2023 

ISSS 2023 in South Africa 17-23 June 2023

Loads of info about the conference. Including giraffes!
An experience of a lifetime!​
Travelling to the KNP
What you need to know​
Conference fees
Proposed Itinerary
Call for papers
STiP workshop detail
Notes on Registration process
Risk managemen
Message for the ISSS BoD
Detail of a External Organisation that can assist with flight bookings etc
e-mail to conference@isss.org

Message from the President ​Dear Reader,
It is our pleasure to publish our updated special edition of the ISSS newsletter. The purpose of this special issue is to provide information on our 2023 conference. ISSS2023 is our first face-to-face conference after the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are all looking forward to meeting up with our ISSS friends in the Kruger National Park in South Africa from 17-23 June 2023.The theme of the conference is ‘Systems Practice for Professions.’ Due to the unique nature of the venue, the closing date for registration is  March 15th, 2023.

The conference takes the form of a multi-event with flexible participation. From 17-19 June, participants can join a pre-conference Writing Retreat, or use the time and facilities as an informal meeting space. Various organisations already indicated that they want to make use of these days to come together before joining the main conference from 19-23 June.We also offer a Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) formal workshop from 17 June with full-day sessions on 17-19 June and dedicated activities during the main conference. More details follow later in this newsletter in the announcement of the STiP workshop.
The theme, Systems Practice for Professions, is central to  of our keynote addresses.  Two are by past-presidents of the ISSS. Prof Gerald Midgley, Prof Ray Ison. Other keynote  speakers include Dr Rachel Lilley and  Dr Louis Klein. They are known for their extensive work in Systems Practice and will present their work. More keynote addresses will be confirmed and communicated on the conference web page linked to isss.org.  We also value contributions on underlying theory guiding systems practice. More detail follows in the call for papers which is part of this newsletter. 

The conference team will ensure that you have a wonderful experience in the Kruger National Park. We included game drives and cultural activities in the programme to make this the trip of a lifetime that will live up to your expectations.
In this newsletter we hope to provide you with all the information you need to make this a memorable integrative experience!  

Roelien Goede



Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows (Book Summary) | Sloww

An Intro to Systems Thinking: “Thinking in Systems” by Donella Meadows (Book Summary)BY KYLE KOWALSKI

Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows (Book Summary) | Sloww

Carl Bergstrom Presents “The crisis of human collective decision-making in a social media world” January 31, 4-5pm, Michigan University, USA

Carl Bergstrom“The crisis of human collective decision-making in a social media world” A Complex Systems Public Event


Carl Bergstrom

“The crisis of human collective decision-making in a social media world” A Complex Systems Public Event
photo of Carl Bergstrom brown sweater tree behindCarl Bergstrom has published extensively on COVID, and misinformation (and COVID misinformation!) in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American and innumerable scientific journals. He was also a frequent guest on news programs especially during the early times of the pandemic.

Dr. Bergstrom is also an avid birder with a special fondness for corvids
Join us Tuesday, January 31 at 4-5pm in Rackham Amphitheatre for this special talk. Reception to follow in Assembly Hall.

Please visit the event listing for abstract, details, accessibility and virtual option. Talk will be 4-5pm, followed by a light reception.Register to Attend HereAdd to Google Calendar
Carl Bergstrom Presents “The crisis of human collective decision-making in a social media world” January 31, 4-5pm.

Review of Net Zero – GOV.UK

Strong calls for systems thinking

Independent report

Review of Net Zero

An independent review of the government’s approach to delivering its net zero target, to ensure that it is pro-business and pro-growth. From:Department for Business, Energy & Industrial StrategyPublished26 September 2022Last updated13 January 2023 — See all updates

Review of Net Zero – GOV.UK

Metaphorum Conference (20 years after Stafford’s passing): Viability through emancipation – or the hidden agenda of viability, Manchester, UK: 08 – 10 June, 2023

Emancipation is an important landmark of progress in our social systems. The challenge is how to set ourselves free and yet maintain our relationships to work together effectively and bring about the systemic changes we so urgently need? For us to truly emancipate ourselves and flourish, we also need to be viable – individually and collectively. Viability is the capacity to have and maintain autonomous, conscious, responsible, and independent existence. Emancipation implies a need to rethink the intended purpose of human organisation – to define new adaptive pathways towards a flourishing future for all.

In our conference we seek to review how Beer’s original ideas, among other systems approaches, offer clear criteria and tools to facilitate emancipatory systemic changes. We also invite people to reflect on the barriers and obstacles to emancipation and to systemic change. Thus, we welcome presentations and workshops that explore:

The notion of emancipation emerging from individual and collective changes of cognition, awareness, and perception, and being an engine for viability.

The notion of viability as the capacity to continue existing – or to cease to exist in a given moment of time. This contributes to the ultimate goal of preserving the integrity of the ecosystems and communities to which we belong and with which we co-evolve.
The barriers to emancipation as they have been experienced and understood in different interventions – as well as a reflection on how to overcome them.
The notions of co-evolution and perpetual change – hence the need for requisite experimentation as a core strategy for viability and resilience.
The characteristics of systemic change, and ways of designing experiments to promote intentional transitions.
The unpredictable and surprising routes through which systemic innovations proliferate over time.
Examples of applications of a range of approaches aimed at facilitating systemic change in different organisational contexts.
Experiences of seeds of change sown in the past, which contributed to the awakening of consciousness and desire for change, and over time produced new systems configurations.
The need to revisit the toolbox for viability – Beer’s visionary theories and tools for the development of more robust and resilient self-governing systems.
Open research paths for further developing the viability theory to support emancipatory systemic change.


Conference dates: 08 – 10 June, 2023

Register by: 01 May, 2023


Abstract and workshop submission by 20 March, 2023.

Confirmation of acceptance two weeks after submission.

Abstract guidelines:

The abstract must be a maximum of 200 words. It should explain the topic and focus of the talk, the theory/and or methodology and tools used and the key lessons learned.

A workshop proposal must be a maximum of 300 words and should specify the topic, methodology, expected outcome, number of participants, time (maximum of 90 minutes), space and equipment required.

Papers will be included in a special issue of a systems journal.

Save the date! Details on registration coming soon.