I am Pablo Colapinto, a cohort of Andrés Burbano at the University of
California in Santa Barbara, and a researcher in "geometric cybernetics" --
form-finding and form-making using reasoning machines. Andrés asked me to
moderate this conversation on Latin America and Cybernetics -- but of
course I imagine we can all act as moderators and ask questions of each
other. Please feel free to contact me off list if any issues arise (
The text of my 5 minute talk and some of my research materials can be found
at www.wolftype.com/dl/cibernetica/ I believe Felipe shot a video as well.
Esteban, thank you for the summary of the talks. I remember afterwords you
were telling me something very interesting about a group of Eastern
European cyberneticians that had some overlap with the themes explicated by
El Grupo de los Trece in Argentina in the late 60s and 70s. We would all I
am sure love to hear more about that on this list.
You asked if someone could perhaps explain a bit about Eduardo
Bayro-Corrochano's talk, and I encourage those who were there to give their
impressions. Perhaps it would help if I speak a bit more about the system
of mathematics with which Eduardo works, since it is also my area of
specialty. Andrés asked the question at the conference, but time did not
allow me to fully answer. My master's thesis has more in depth introduction
Briefly, Geometric Algebra combines deductive reasoning with inductive
reasoning. Deductive reasoning is the kind of "top-down" reasoning we are
used to in Euclidean geometry, where general rules lead to specific
conclusions: a line intersects a coplanar circle at two points, two
overlapping spheres intersect at a circle, two points can define a
line, two lines can intersect to define a point, etc. Inductive reasoning
is more of a "bottom-up" approach to logic, where specific conclusions made
in one instance can be generalized and formulated into a more general rule.
A lot of the power of Geometric Algebra lies in its ability to use
deductive reasoning to work out simple problems intuitively, and then
inductive reasoning to generalize those solutions to more complex
situations, whether they be higher dimensions or curved spaces. Because
Geometric Algebra is "coordinate free", which means it is not tied down to
any particular metric space or dimension, what it enables is the building
of computational systems that are fluid, adaptable, and horizontally
Eduardo's Cinvestav laboratory in Guadalajara is pretty much the only one
in the world using Geometric Algebra to study control and automation of
perception-action systems. Throughout the "Perception-Action Cycle" which
he discussed in his lecture fundamentally relies on the above model
represent the world to the computer. He uses the same mathematical system
to control projective computer vision (seeing a 3d world), neural
processing (recognizing objects), and robot locomotion and actuation
(movement of robot arms). That a single mathematical system is employed
"from head to toe" in the design of humanoids is unique. I think of the
mathematics as an abstract substrate, a sort of soil out of which seeds of
artificial intelligence can grow. It also is very very closely related to
second order cybernetics as espoused by the likes of Heinz von Foerster,
where "seeing" is structurally coupled with "doing".
"If you want to see, learn how to act." says Foerster. Of note, the
geometric system mentioned above was invented in the 1860s by William
Clifford, and brought back into modern day calculus by a theoretical
physicist, David Hestenes. This provenance is relevant, for it shows that
some of our modern "thinking machines" are using the very mathematics used
to describe the nature of the universe itself.
This is a somewhat truncated answer, but hopefully useful. I imagine this
conversation will continue on this list for some time, so hopefully there
will be plenty of time for us all to elaborate on various themes. Looking
forward to hearing what everyone has to say!
On Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 5:14 PM, esteban garcia <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Dear members of Yasmin,
> I am Esteban García an artist and PhD candidate in Computer Graphics
> Technology at Purdue University. I presented at ISEA 2012 a workshop on web
> radio called "Radio Chigüiro" and collaborated with Andrés Burbano in the
> panel "Code Talkers." I also attended to the exciting panel in Cybernetics
> and here are my notes:
> Latin America and Cybernetics at ISEA 2012
> This panel focused in past and current Latin American approaches to
> cybernetics. Researchers in Artists, Neurologists, Politicians and
> Mathematicians have explored cybernetics, "the scientific study of control
> and communication in the animal and the machine." Some of the approaches
> included transposing different disciplines to create within a new field of
> Susana Quintanilla presented on an early case of the Latin American
> influence in the development of a conceptual model for cybernetics. It
> started with the communication of Neuroscientists Norman Weiner and Arturo
> Rosenblueth, starting in the 1930's and continuing throughout their lives.
> Rosenblueth was a scholar born in México who in the 1930 was awarded an
> scholarship in the department of Physiology of Harvard Univeristy. During
> his lifetime, he co-wrote articles with Weiner including "Behavior, Purpose
> and Teleology" in 1943, a seminal article that redefined the theory of
> cybernetics. Rosenblueth's return to Mexico as a Professor in the
> Physiology department of UNAM didn't stop him and Wiener to continue to
> collaborate. They were able to maintain correspondence and co-author
> research in the new science of cybernetics.
> Pablo Colapinto's presentation regarded to "Grupo de los 13," an
> Argentinian-based group of artists who in the 1970's explored cybernetics.
> The work of Luis Fernando Benedit was highlighted. His work explored the
> development of autonomous systems. Benedit's "Biotron" was installed in the
> 1970 Venice Biennale, displaying an enclosed environment for bees:
> *Biotron, an aluminum and plexiglas construction which housed 4,000 bees,
> shown at the 1970 Venice Biennale. The insects had the choice of feeding
> from artificial flowers which dripped sugar at the direction of a computer,
> or from actual flowers in a nearby garden. The bees preferred the
> artificial solution.* 
> Pablo, can talk a little more about Benedit's work? It was a very
> interesting presentation.
> Eden Medina's presentation was called "Cybernetics and Political Change in
> Chile. Medina focused in the particular case of project Cybersyn, an
> experiment in cybernetic socialism during Salvador Allende's government
> from 1970 to 1973. The presentation was based on Medina's book entitled
> "Cybernetic Revolutionaries" from MIT Press (2011) . Cybersyn overlapped
> science and politics aimed to be a socialist approach to technological
> In 1971, Fernando Flores wrote to Stafford Beer about starting a
> challenging project to be implemented across the whole country. In a note
> by Medina:
> *The person in charge of the technical aspects of the nationalization
> effort had learned about cybernetics in college, especially a vein of
> cybernetic thought known as management cybernetics that was in development
> by an Englishman named Stafford Beer.*
> A team that included Beer, aimed to create a National network for data
> processing using one mainframe computer. The goal was to achieve an
> auto-regulated society. One of the highlighted examples, was a sketch of
> Project Cyberfolk, by Beer. Cyberfolk was a prototype of a system that
> could be installed in people's Television to give the government real-time
> feedback about society. One of the notes on the bottom represented a dial
> with a meter to measure the overall levels of happiness of the population.
> Medina explained that "Cybersyn illustrates how political innovation can
> lead to technological innovation.*"*
> Unfortunately, I couldn't be in Eduardo Bayro's  presentation. Did
> anybody get to see it? Maybe Alejandro?
> I tried my best to recollect from my notes, also I would like to thank Eden
> for sending me her notes about her presentation.
> Talk to all you soon,
> Esteban García
>  Wiener, Norbert (1948). Cybernetics, or Communication and Control in
> the Animal and the Machine. Cambridge: MIT Press.
>  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-2Hk3Gkuow
> Esteban García
> art & research
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HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").
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