World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics
18. Congress-WOSC2020

Moscow, 16. to 18. September 2020

Systems approach and cybernetics; engaging for the future of mankind

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 2020). 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 2020 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 apply systemic approaches and cybernetics. We want to debate the foundations of the philosophy of science, with particular emphasis in ontology, epistemology and methodology. New ideas are needed concerning scientific rationality, the problem of the observer, agency, transdisciplinary approaches, and problems related to complexity, reflexivity and ethics. We must increase the convergence of civilization and culture in the development and application of systemic approaches and cybernetics. System thinking and cybernetics enable a rich social construction of an interrelated and coherent world.

   WOSC 2020 invites participants to discuss alternatives of observers in human activities, starting from a modernist  approach of external observers accepting an objective reality, continuing with observer-participants, as interacting agents constructing their situational realities, and extending all this to an increased awareness  of the complexity of the contextual constraints imposed by the structural coupling of systemic and environmental agents in co-evolution in ecosystemic chains.

   Awareness of complexity offers the opportunities to overcome chaos and develop the functionality and coherence of societies. These meta-contextual aspects are not directly focused on actors and agents, but on the framing of their free unfolding of situation-environment interactions. This way we invite to reflect on aspects of societal significance, such as ecological chains, constrained resources, as well as economic inequalities that limit fairness and justice. WOSC 2020 wants to make inroads into the mechanisms shaping interactions, communications and relationships in complex systems, whether communities, enterprises, government agencies, small businesses or families. In particular, we want to offer an opportunity for Congress participants to enhance philosophical reflections and contribute with empirical approaches their practical experiences in the life-world of societal, ecological and economic situations. We invite methodological debates about social boundaries, systemic structures and communication mechanisms to influence good practice and improve people’s contributions to society.


   Theme 1 Sections

  1. Systemic approaches and cybernetics: philosophical and methodological bases of development (Stuart Umpleby, USA; Vladimir Lepskiy, Russia) (Round Table)

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

  3. The implications of CyberSystemics in Science and Society (Michael Lissack, USA; Thomas Fischer, Germany; Christiane M Herr, Germany; Yuri Baturin Russia)

  4. Organization Theory in a CyberSystemic World (Raul Espejo, UK; Dmitry Novikov, Russia)

  5. Cybernetics of self-developing poly-subject (reflexive-active) environments:  third-order cybernetics (Matjaž Mulej, Slovenia; Stuart Umpleby, USA; Vladimir Lepskiy, Russia)

  6. From conflict to harmony of civilizations (systemic approach and models of civilizational development) (Andrey Smirnov, Russia; Vladimir Ivanov, Russia; German Bula, Colombia)

  7. The psychology of socio-technical systems management under conditions of new technologies adoption and preventing global risks (Anatoly Zhuravlev, Russia; Timofei Nestik, Russia; Ruben V. Aghuzumtsyan, Armenia; Frank Stowell, 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 global policy 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)

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

  4. Transformation, sustainability and hybrid organizations in the post Covid era: a Cybernetic future (Primiano Di Nauta, Italy; Marcello Martinez, Italy; Georgiy Malinetskiy, Russia)



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; Christoph Stuckelberger, Switzerland; Timofei Nestik, Russia)

  3. Risk mitigation for vulnerable populations, safety, and security in a cyber world (Alexander Zatsarinnyy, Russia; Teodora Ivanusa, Slovenia; Allenna Leonard, Canada; Igor Sheremet, Russia) 

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

  5. 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

   This stream is about strengthening particular areas of social knowledge. Policy systems such as education, health services, the economy, transportation, tourism, social services, art and others are well defined as areas of particular social relevance and interest. The aim of this theme is exploring in depth these social areas. Though each of them is highly interconnected with other sources of knowledge and practice, the purpose of this theme is to focus the enquire in depth on those aspects that make them unique. What is that makes education unique in society; what is special to education that requires it receives both holistic attention and the development of particular communication mechanisms? What makes it different to the economic or the transportation systems? In a world increasingly dominated by 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 innovation as well as making more meaningful people’s collective concerns. It can be argued that each of these policy areas have requirements of good governance, offer opportunities for people’s improved resources management, with attention to local, meso and global developments. What can be said about the commonalities of these areas 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 interests. What is unique about levels of self-organisation in each case? How is unique to each of these policy areas regarding correcting at different structural levels their interactions with their environments?  In this theme the invitation is to open debates to explore in specific policy 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 policy areas, the Congress wants to discuss contributions that guide, enable and facilitate interactions among existing, necessary and available resources to increase society’s requisite variety to deal with challenges to policy areas at different structural levels in different cultural contexts.

   Each of these levels require the creativity of people’s communications. This creativity should help them by branching into all kinds of aspects necessary for a better social policy, and their moment to moment coordination of actions should help them align their interests. Participants to WOSC 2020 are invited to explore issues of social concern through deeper and wider appreciation of what is relevant to these social areas in today’s world.

   Methodologically, as the complexity of policies grows the practical need for bringing together people’s concerns grows as well. This is an ongoing process of building systems and making their boundaries operationally meaningful to all those affected.

We are proposing WOSC 2020 as a platform for cyber-systemic contributions to these policy areas. We invite group discussions supporting collective synergy, but also we invite state-of-the-art individual research.

Theme 4 Topics with sections

Learning, Teaching and Education

1. Redesigning the Education System (Jose Perez-Rios, Spain; Alfonso Reyes, Colombia; Aleksandr Kovriga, Russia)

2. System engineering and the future of education: sociocultural aspects (Nadezda Bagdasaryan, Russia; Armin Grunwald, Germany)

3. Systems science, cybernetics and art (Tom Scholte, Canada; Alexander Koblyakov, Russia; Clive Holtham, UK)

Health, Healthcare and Medicine

4. Developments in medicine: Opportunities for cybernetics (Vyacheslav Moiseev, Russia; Christian Pristipino, Italia)

5. A Cure for the Health Systems: transdisciplinarity in the modelling to improve health activities (Marialuisa Saviano, Italy; Igor Alekseevich Gundarov, Russia)

Business and Economy

6. Global impact of investment and entrepreneurship ecosystem (Jose Rodolfo Hernandez-Carrion, Spain; Anton Zur, Russia)

7. Advancing systems economics and economic cybernetics: A Look into the Future (George Kleiner, Russia; Vojko Potocan, Slovenia)

Hospitality and Tourism

8. CyberSystemics in tourism and hospitality services: experiences to share and lessons to be learned (Bistra Vassileva, Bulgaria; Roberto Moreno-Diaz, Spain; Sonja Sibila Lebe, Slovenia; Shalaev Vladimir Pavlovich, Russia)

@2020 WOSC