Raúl Espejo, Ph.D
Director General of the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics
Director of Syncho Research
Past Professor of Systems and Cybernetics at the University of Lincoln, UK
Field of research: Systems Sciences and Cybernetics
The cybernetics of the people: CyberSyn and CyberFolk
The extraordinary power of people’s interactions creates spaces for collaboration and long term collective viability. These are self-organising spaces that underpin the emergence of communities, cities and other social forms. Self-organisation is at the core of the complexity management strategies triggered by people’s networks of interactions. The issue is that cities, contrary to the more hierarchical approach of enterprises, define tacitly these strategies bottom-up and, among many challenges, deal, not always successfully, with two particular challenges of cybernetic interest; people’s coordination of actions and people´s influence against the unilateral power of politicians. These were two aspects addressed by Chile´s Cybersyn and Cyberfolk projects in the early 1970s; unfortunately, beyond conceptual limitations, the technologies available in those days made it difficult both, a wide spread coordination of actions and an effective balancing of communications between politicians and the people. While the technological enabling for these two forms of interactions has changed dramatically in the past 40-50 years, their cybernetics is still waiting unravelling along with aspects such as scalability and value co-production. In these conversations I want to explore these two aspects.
Raúl Espejo is Director-General of the World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics and Director of Syncho Research, UK. The main focus of his research is organisational systems, and is author of over 120 academic papers, co-author of three books and co-editor of another three. Professor Espejo has worked with a wide range of organisations worldwide, including national and local governments and small and large enterprises, mainly in aspects of organisational diagnosis and design, transparency and democratic processes in decision making. He has been consultant of organisations like Hoechst AG in Germany, Hydro Aluminium in Norway, 3M in Europe, EdF in France, the Nuclear Inspectorate in Sweden and the National Audit Office, the Ministry of Education and the State Council of Colombia. In 1995 he was appointed full professor of Systems and Cybernetics at the University of Lincoln UK. Before that from 1977 to 1994 he was senior lecturer at the University of Aston UK. During the mid and late70s he was research scholar at the Manchester Business School, UK and at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria. Prof Espejo has been Visiting Professor at the universities of Worcester in the UK and Santiago in Chile. From 1971 to 1973 he worked as operations director of the CYBERSYN project – the Chilean Government’s project for the management of the social economy, under the scientific direction of Professor Stafford Beer.