CybSights—President’s Series: Viable Operating Model, Gaia and Sentience


Hosted by our President, Dr. John Beckford FCybS, the CybSights President's Series is a new programme that will bring interesting people together to explore the relevance and contribution of cybernetics to addressing important challenges.

Each event will consist of contributions by two different speakers. Each will be followed by individual Q&A. These are then brought together by the President in a lively and engaging plenary discussion. Each will seek areas of convergence and divergence between the ideas explored.

Events will be held via Zoom on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 1700 to 1900.

Meetings are open to members of the Cybernetics Society and also the general public. Non-members are invited to join or give a donation. Booking is required.

The Cybernetics Society has been hosting conversations and lectures since the late 1960s.

#PS6 : March 10 2021: The Viable Operating Model with Gaia and Sentience: Everything Really IS Connected

This event continues the exploration of the relevance of cybernetics to the contemporary world with contributions both theoretically practical and practically theoretical. The purpose of this series is not just to provide answers but to test whether the right questions are being asked.


Viable Operating Model: Business Architecture and Systems Practice


An Operating Model in the world of business can mean different things to different people but broadly accepted as a blueprint that sits between the hard place that is strategy and the rock that is operations. A Viable Operating Model is an emerging approach that looks to employ tools such as the Viable Systems Model, Soft Systems Thinking and elements of Critical Systems Heuristics without making too much fuss and through contemporary language. It looks to help managers, designers and operators explore variety, perspective and boundary choices through three orthogonal yet inter-dependent business views: capabilities (what), process (how) and product (why) whilst exploring systems ideas such as purpose, structure, recursion, feedback and behavior.

Abdul Aziz, BSs, MBA

An independent consultant supporting businesses, small and large in a variety of industries across their strategy, enterprise architecture, design and operating value streams. Following an undergraduate degree in Computing and Mathematics, I started my careers as a Software Engineer and have held various roles such as Systems Analyst, Consultant and Business Architect and undertook an MBA from the Manchester Business School along the way. I’ve had a keen interest in systems thinking and practice for almost a decade, particularly to help me help my clients make more sense and get better use out of the ever growing and often incommensurate architecture and improvement methods out there whilst trying to tap into the more stable but sometimes feels like impenetrable systems ideas, principles and approaches.

Followed by brief Q & A

SECOND SPEAKER: Prof Peter Cochrane HonFCybS

Gaia and Sentience - everything really is connected


Life and intelligence are fundamentally emergent properties of complexity on a massive scale, and born of countless chance interactions spanning billions of years. However, it took just 100 years to transit from thermionic tubes to the creation of task specific AI superior to any human. And without any new life-form in evidence, perhaps we are that genesis! So, if we are the underlying life-force supporting new intelligences, are we about to witness the birth of machine sentience, or are they already abroad and we haven’t recognised them! This poses the question; do we even know where to look?

Prof Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an Honorary Fellow of the Cybernetics Society. This is our highest award. He is a seasoned professional with decades of hands-on management, technology and operational experience who retired from BT as CTO in 2000 to form his own consultancy company. This saw the founding of eBookers, Shazam Entertainment, and a raft of smaller start ups. Peter has also seen assignments with UK, Singapore and Qatar government departments; HP, Motorola, 3M, Dupont, Ford, Sun, Apple, Cisco, Rolls Royce, BMW, Jersey Tel, Chorus, FaceBook, et al. In 2017 Peter was appointed Prof of Sentient Systems to the University of Suffolk, and a visiting Prof to The Universities of Herfordshire, Nottingham Trent and Salford. He has received numerousawards including the IEEE Millennium Medal, Martlesham Medal, Prince Philip Medal, Queens Award for Export and Technology and an OBE. He has also received numerous honorary degrees and is widely published in the media and professional journals.

Followed by brief Q & A

Plenary Discussion

The aim of this session, moderated by John Beckford, is to draw out the complementary and competing ideas emerging from the two sessions.

Dr. John Beckford, FCybS, President of the Cybernetics Society

John Beckford is a board member of WOSC, a partner in Beckford Consulting, Non-Executive Chair of the Board of Rise Mutual CIC, a Non-Executive Director of both Fusion21 and CoreHaus (social enterprises) and Visiting Professor in both the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London and the Centre for Information Management, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University. John holds a PhD in cybernetics from the University of Hull, is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and of the Royal Society for the Arts and a Member of the Institute of Management Services.

Cybernetics Society – a learned society

The Cybernetics Society promotes and offers education and research opportunities in the rich field of cybernetics. In the CybSights series, including the President's Series, we offer isghts conversations, lectures, case studies, analysis, education, and thoughtful entertainment.,

The Cybernetics Society – – is a specially authorised learned society regulated by the FSA and established by a 1974 Act of Parliament. To join visit our membership system or pick the Join ticket.

Cybernetics plays into and strongly influences many scientific and practice fields including design, epistemology, ecology, biology, psychology and living behaviour, technology and engineering, social policy, and business practice. Many feature in the wonderfully aware and successful designers and thinkers of this series.

Cybernetics offers a distinct "go" — techniques — to address local and global challenges of the 21st century.