The Biological Computer Laboratory: An Unfinished Revolution of an Unfinished Revolution

Karl Mueller, director of the Vienna Institute for Social Documentation and Methodology in Vienna

Heinz von Foerster created a grand design for biology, cognition and computation during the years of the Biological Computer Laboratory, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This plenary talk will cover the emergence of Heinz von Foerster’s second order cybernetics. It will present three types of observer dependencies. It will explain the language, the logic and the minimal machinery required for second order cybernetics. The talk will explain how second order cybernetics is a revolution unfinished. It will suggest a new perspective for micro-social worlds. The presentation concludes that second order cybernetics is a powerful transdisciplinary form of science for the 21st century.

Karl H. Mueller is the director of WISDOM, the Vienna Institute for Social Documentation and Methodology. He is also President of the Heinz von Foerster Society in Vienna, Austria. Among his books are Marktentfaltung und Wissensintegration (1999); Knowledege, Second-order Cybernetics, Society (forthcoming); co-editor of Heinz von Foerster, Der Anfang von Himmel und Erde hat keinen Namen (1997); Advancing Socio-Economics (2002) (with J. Rogers Hollingsworth and E.J. Hollingsworth). His research interests are second-order cybernetics, complexity theory, and evolutionary designs.