Optimists at Berlin-Friedrichshagen Wiener-Schmidt Prize ceremony: paradigm shifts for a common future

The GSIS Emergent Systems, Information and Society Research Group – which is also a working group at the Leibniz Society of Science to Berlin e.V., Germany (LS) – organised, within the framework of the LS and together with the German Association for Cybernetics, Information and System Theory – the former Gesellschaft für Kybernetik (GfK) – an event to honour Klaus Fuchs-Kittowski, the founder of the Emergent Systems Group, and Horst Völz, another expert in informatics and society. Both had already in recent years been nominated to receive the so-called Wiener-Schmidt Prize from the GfK – called so after the father of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener, and the German pioneer of cybernetics, Hermann Schmidt – but the prizes usually awarded every two years had not been handed over so far because of the pandemic. The event was to make up for the delay. The laudatory speaker was Siegfried Piotrowski, the President of GfK.

Both laureates, Fuchs-Kittowski, in December reaching the age of 88 years, and Völz, now 92 years old, have been contributing to paradigm changes in systems theory and cybernetics, in biology, informatics and social sciences as well. These changes have been designed to lay foundations for a better world, which is of utmost relevance, since we are living in the age of existential threats to humanity. This notwithstanding, the laureates had even to experience adverse circumstances during their research and teaching before or after the unification of Germany. Anyway, they are eager to deliver their insights to next generations of scientists. In this way, they are optimists*.

The event took place on 13 October 2022 at the Rathaus Berlin-Friedrichshagen. See the programme here.

Lutz-Günther Fleischer, Vice-President, Leibniz-Sozietät, opens the ceremony. From left: Fleischer, Brannigan, Fuchs-Kittowski.

Lutz-Günther Fleischer | Eröffnung (Auszug) | pdf

Vincent M. Brannigan from the University of Maryland holds the lecture.

Brannigan is member of the Emergent Systems Group. He is an expert in technological disasters.

Vincent M. Brannigan | Disasters on the Human Machine Interface: the Importance of Cybernetic and Orgware Analysis | pptx

Panel on the shift of the scientific paradigm to mastering the global challenges. From right: Piotrowski, Bock, Hofkirchner, Völz, Fuchs-Kittowski. [photo: Pfaff]

Since Hans-Jörg Kreowski and Annette Grathoff had to cancel their participation due to Corona, we improvised at short notice and invited the award winners to the panel discussion.

Piotrowski commented on paradigm shifts within and through cybernetics.

Siegfried Piotrowski | Kybernetik erster und zweiter Ordnung in Unternehmen. Ein Paradigmenwechsel | pdf

Legal scholar Kirsten Bock, an expert on data protection issues, argued that the EU General Data Protection Regulation is the right paradigm to curb what has come to be known as surveillance capitalism.

Kirsten Bock | Es geht um Macht (in: PinG 02.22) | link

Völz referred to a paradigm shift that questions the fundamental assumptions of the natural sciences.

Horst Völz | Probleme der Wissenschaften (Vorwort) | link

Fuchs-Kittowski mentioned paradigm shifts in physics, in biology, in informatics and society, all based on self-organisation, highlighted the shift to responsibility in science and called for the human right to peace.

Klaus Fuchs-Kittowski | Der wissenschaftliche Paradigmenwechsel zur Bewältigung der globalen Herausforderungen | ppt

Klaus Fuchs-Kittowski receives the Wiener-Schmidt Prize of 2019. From left: Fuchs-Kittowski, Piotrowski.

Siegfried Piotrowski | Laudatio auf Herrn Professor Dr. habil. Dr. Klaus Fuchs-Kittowski | pdf

Klaus Fuchs-Kittowski | Danksagung und Gedanken zu meinem Denken in der Kybernetik | ppt

Horst Völz receives the Wiener-Schmidt Prize of 2021. From right: Völz, Piotrowski.

Siegfried Piotrowski | Laudatio auf Herrn Professor Dr. rer. nat habil. Horst Völz | pdf

Horst Völz | Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Wissenschaft (Ankündigung) | link

The laureates. From left: Klaus Fuchs-Kittowski and Horst Völz. [photo: Pfaff]

* The photo at the header shows “optimists” at the Müggelsee in Friedrichshagen. (“Optimists” are sailing dinghys to be used by the generation in education.) The young people seem optimistic about learning how to find their way – as kybernetes (helmsman) of their little boats. Will this metaphor hold up when confronted with the current turning point that affects the whole world?
[photos if not indicated otherwise: Hofkirchner]


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