mandag den 21. juli 2008

Impressions from WMSCI

I enjoyed participating in a remarkable event in Orlando, Florida from June 29th to July 3rd.
It happened to be the 12th consecutive ‘World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics’. .The ‘Multi’ should be taken quite literally: It consists of the RMCI – Symposium on Risk Management and Cyber-Informatics, of the International Symposium of Energy, Informatics and Cybernetics, of MEI, the International Symposium of Management, Engineering and Informatics, of BMIC, international symposium of Bio-Medical informatics, PISTA, The international Conference on Politics and Information Systems (See ), Technologies and Applications, as well as eISTA, conference on Education, Information, Technology and Applications.
The idea behind this enormous conference is rather unique; all the participants are speakers at one of the conferences, and you are free to pick and choose from all the sub-conferences. So this is really a place where the audience is extremely active and alive, and all the speakers try to do their best as they are in front of knowledgeable colleagues from universities, industry, governmental and research institutions. (I have participated as a speaker on several occasions, in PISTA as well as RMCI.) And it is indeed a very productive conference: every morning at breakfast 2 lessons are given in plenum and this time covered a wide range from Gary S. Metcalf’s ( )extremely interesting presentation on ‘Patterns of Significance – Complexities between Human and Scientific Decision Making, to prof. Yaroslav Sergeyev’s ( ) views on ‘The infinity Computer’, and a remarkable overview of the history of Cybernetics by prof. Ranulph Glanville ( ) – plus of course several others.
In my own session – labeled Human Information Systems – I was co-chair together with a Russian born, now US resident, Dmitry Zinoviev, that gave a very interesting presentation on how to describe topology and geometry of on line social networks. This is indeed very useful when we expand on the line, which I produced, the joint paper between me and Michael Hvass, my assistant, on ‘eGovernment 2.0 – how can government benefit from Web 2.0?’. Our paper was later acknowledged ‘Best Paper in Session’, so I was deeply honored.
If you scan through the list of presentations and papers you will be astonished to see the span of the articles – regardless of your line of profession there is bound to be something of interest: From molecular Bio-Engineering, to Energy preservation, to managing risks in banks, preventing terror, assessing risk and warning systems for the mining industry, demonstrating how robots can assist in emergency situations and so on and so forth.
What struck me as one of the most interesting sessions happened to be presented by an IBM colleague, Ray Strong, coming from the Almaden research Lab in California. (See ).
Together with colleagues Ray developed an exciting methodology for technology outlook and future studies. And this is not ‘just’ 5 years ahead: Based on a request from NASA a few years ago, Almaden lab was forced to think of meaningful ways to develop foresight methodologies to look 40 or even 50 years into the future. This of course cannot in any way be accurate forecasts, but the methodology actually develops what Ray calls ‘Sign posts’ , events, inventions or breakthroughs, that mark a breaking point, and once these signposts occur, there is a sort of roadmap attached to it, so it is relatively clear, what a threshold or signpost would possibly open up for. At the Almaden homepage you can find and download general descriptions of this methodology, which we in fact sell as a part of the IBM consulting offering to corporations or Governments that want to look into the future. ( ) Examples such as mobile phone companies, utility companies, energy and oil companies, NASA – of course – and many others have gained insight from this. My friends at the Danish technology Council (See description of Foresigt : ) would be impressed, this is more than the traditional foresight methods, although the starting point in any engagement is the creation of scenarios combined with analysis of patent trends and disruptive trends in consumption, production or ecological factors. I intend to follow this development and see how ‘Future Planning’ as a discipline is coming to fruition.

Ingen kommentarer: