Liss C. Werner, "Cybernetics: State of the Art" (Tech Uni of Berlin Press, 2017)


It's no secret that we continue to live in the midst of digital revolution that continues to unfold in a rapidly accelerating fashion. Digital connectivity and the Internet of Things make possible not only Smart Homes, but Smart Cities. As with all technological revolutions, the road ahead is equally dotted with possibilities and pitfalls. Liss C. Werner and her colleagues brought together a collection of thinkers and practitioners in the realms of architecture, design, and urban planning to wrestle with questions around ways we might utilize today's digital design tools to enable more responsive, resilient, and ultimately, inclusive and democratic forms of urban design and governance without tipping the balance over to a technocratic project that might imprison us within its algorithmic logics. All of the contributors to this discussion share the hope that the insights of second-order cybernetics might provide valuable guidance as we attempt to find that particular "sweet-spot" of human/machine interaction. Their insights are gathered together in Cybernetics: State of the Art edited by our guest, Liss C. Werner, and available free online from the Technical University of Berlin. As editor, Werner has skillfully crafted a dialectic arc that allows the productive tensions between digital utopianism and skepticism enabling a provocative investigation of the revolution that is happening whether we like it or not, and might help us find the means to steer its emergence in ways that are most beneficial for all of us and our environment.

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Tom Scholte

Tom Scholte is a Professor of Directing and Acting in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia located on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territory of the Musqueam people

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