Publication 2323

Herr C. M. & Fischer T. (2013) Systems for Showing and Repurposing: A Second-Order Cybernetic Reflection on Some Cellular Automata Projects. Journal of Mathematics and System Science 3: 201–216. Fulltext at
Over the course of the past 70 years, the objectives of CA (cellular automata) research shifted from speculative and illustrative purposes without immediate goals outside of given implementations to the more utilitarian scientific and engineering objectives of simulating, controlling and predicting other phenomena. Looking back at our own 10-year history of CA related work, however, we recognize a generally inverse tendency from utilitarian objectives to finding more illustrative and speculative value. In this paper, we present a reflection on our own body of CA work, and we discuss the qualities of the various outcomes and insights we gained from a second-order cybernetic perspective. We argue that much of our own CA work may best be understood as creating machines for showing and for repurposing that allow their observers to gain new (second-order cybernetic) ways of seeing from interacting with them.


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