Conference Program and Format

Conference Program Schedule

To view the Conference Schedule and Program (current as at 20 June), click HERE.

To download a copy of the Conference Schedule and Program (current as at 20 June), click HERE.

To download a copy of the Program with full details of presentations, authors and speakers (current as at 20 June), click HERE.

Conference Elements

Elements of the conference include:

  • A “Personal recollections” evening
  • A tour to locations where Wiener worked (numbers strictly limited)
  • PhD research student symposium
  • Keynote speakers on panels providing multi-disciplinary perspectives reminiscent of the Macy conferences key to Wiener’s approach (see below)
  • Invited speakers
  • Open call peer-reviewed sessions (while attempting to minimise the number of simultaneous streams)
  • Panels and other structures: We are particularly interested in proposals from organizations interested in the conference who would like to incorporate one or more of their own meetings or activities within the conference framework.

The biggest challenge in organizing a conference to reflect Norbert Wiener’s life is to find a structure that doesn’t break up his work into dozens of sub-disciplines, where experts speak to others in the same field. We hope to provide an approach guided by the Macy Conferences which played an important part in Wiener’s multi-disciplinary work. Our aim is to bring together high profile experts from different disciplines to “re-enact” some of those interactions seven or more decades later. For delegates, attendance gives an opportunity to participate in a unique interaction that can’t be captured in the proceedings.

A Macy-style Conference format

Many of Wiener’s key initiatives including cybernetics were the outcome of multi-disciplinary “Macy conferences”. The original Macy conferences took place in New York in the 1940s and early 1950s, under the auspices of the Josiah Macy, Jr Foundation.

Regular attendees along with Wiener included mathematician John Von Neumann, psychiatrist Warren McCulloch, biophysicist Heinz von Foerster, physician Arturo Rosenblueth, computer engineer Julian Bigelow, cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, logician Walter Pitts, and anthropologist Gregory Bateson. Guests included information theorist Claude Shannon.

Wikipedia lists the topics of discussion at the typically diverse March 1946 session (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macy_conferences):

• Self-regulating and teleological mechanisms
• Simulated neural networks emulating the calculus of propositional logic
• Anthropology and how computers might learn how to learn
• Object perception’s feedback mechanisms
• Perceptual differences due to brain damage
• Deriving ethics from science
• Compulsive repetitive behavior

At this conference we aim to follow the spirit of these with high-profile multi-disciplinary panels taking a 21st century look at some of the questions of the type that Wiener raised, such as “Is there a future for work as our world becomes automated?”, “Human/Machine: Where do engineering and the life-sciences meet?”, “What is cyberwar and cybercrime telling us?”

This will be in addition to the open call for papers and panels.

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