As the year draws to an end, here’s a recap of the School’s key milestones in 2022.
Our first birthday!
The School of Cybernetics celebrated the first anniversary of its opening. The School officially opened in January 2021. It’s the first new School created at ANU in more than 30 years. It is also the first school of Cybernetics in Australia, the first new school of Cybernetics globally in two generations and the only school of Cybernetics in the southern hemisphere.
We welcomed a new Master Cohort!
Fourteen new Master students joined the School. We had a diverse cohort of students representing various backgrounds and disciplines: music and the arts, public policy, Indigenous rights, engineering and robotics.
Our alumnus Mikaela Jade delivered the Commencement Address at 2022 ANU Orientation Week.
Watch Mikaela’s address and her interview with the ANU College of Engineering and computer science.
We also piloted the Cybernetic Bootcamp attended by 69 senior partners from KPMG. The Bootcamp explored the history (and future) of cybernetics as applied to complex systems of people, technology and the environment.
We put forward our cybernetic voices and joined global conversations around the metaverse.
Following a compelling article on the metaverse published in the MIT Technology Review, Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell appeared on CNET to explain the metaverse and everything we need to know about the future of the internet.
Professor Bell makes Technology Magazine’s 2022 Top 100 Women in Tech
The Technology Magazine named Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell one of the Top 100 Women in Technology.
Senior Lecturer Josh Andres, Researcher and Lecturer Xuanying Zhu and PhD candidate Ned Cooper presented research papers and delivered a workshop at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems held in New Orleans in the US.
Our Director Genevieve Bell and alumna Mikaela Jade joined ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop in a high-profile panel discussion on the impacts and frontiers of AI.
We signed a new partnership with the Australian government’s Defence Science and Technology Group.
A partnership contract was signed with the ANU Futures Hub to improve the understanding of complexity and methods to work in transdisciplinary ways. This project is funded by the Australian government’s Defence Science and Technology Group under the ‘Philosophy of Operations Research (OR)’ call.
Professor Bell and Associate Professor Andrew Meares began their fieldwork in the South Australian desert for research on the Australian Overland Telegraph Line.
Cybernetics Professor Katherine Daniell was awarded the insignia of Knight in the Ordre National du Mérite, conferred through a decree by the President of the French Republic. The French Embassy in Canberra held a ceremony on 26 May led by French Ambassador, His Excellency Jean-Pierre Thébault.
We staged our Master students’ Demo Day at the award-winning Birch Building.
We staged our first-semester Demo Day, an event that showcases the projects created by our Master students in their ‘Building Cyber-Physical Systems’ course. Among the projects created were sensing robots that can perform high-level searches.
The renovation of the ANU Birch Building—the home of the School of Cybernetics—received the top Canberra Medallion at the 2022 ACT Architecture Awards. The building renovation also won the JS Murdoch Heritage Award, the Enrico Taglietti Award for Education Architecture, and the W Hayward Morris Award for Interior Architecture.
Senior Lecturer Elizabeth Williams, Professor Katherine Daniel and PhD candidate Kathy Reid organised the Social Responsibility of Algorithms workshop that focused on algorithmic fairness, explicability / interpretability, trust, privacy and decision autonomy, with the aim of identifying mutually influential challenges and opportunities for technology and policy-development in EU and Australia.
Graduation of our 2021 Master cohort and the start of recruitment for our 2023 Master cohort.
This was a month of new beginnings. We celebrated the graduation of our 2021 Master students and also commenced the recruitment for our 2023 Master cohort.
Some tasty and nutritious brain foods have started cooking up at the Birch Building! We launched the first run of Cybernetic Snacks, a speaker series of virtual bite-sized talks with leading voices in the cybernetics conversation.
Professor Bell opened the series and the first talk was given by acclaimed cybernetician Dr Bill Reckmeyer of San Jose State University in the US.
Professor Bell introduces Cybernetic Snacks.
This was a month jam-packed with events: Cybernetic Leadership, Metaverse and Science Week.
We opened the month with the launch of the Cybernetic Leadership report powered by the Menzies Foundation. Over 100 people joined the launch both in person and online. The report is a significant piece of work that proposes a set of cybernetic principles for leadership in a time when the world is going through transformative challenges and teeming with complex systems. It was written by Strategic Services Lead Maia Gould, Associate Professor Andrew Meares and Professor Katherine Daniell.
To explore how we might shape the future of the metaverse, the School of Cybernetics conducted a workshop series on two topics, ‘Metaverse Futures’ and ‘Scaling the Metaverse’, conducted in Canberra and at the Meta headquarters in Sydney.
The month also marked the first time the School joins the National Science Week celebrations. Our Deputy Director, Professor Alexandra Zafigorlu, sat down with the National Library of Australia (NLA) Director-General Marie-Louise Ayres for a conversation on AI and the library. PhD candidate Kathy Reid also presented an exploration into speech recognition technology through a cybernetic lens.
‘Australian Cybernetic: a point through time’ came to life.
This month the planning for the upcoming School launch and exhibition was well underway. It’s when the exhibition title Australian Cybernetic: a point through time was finalised and became an anchor for all program development and promotions work that followed.
The recruitment for the Master program was a huge success and yielded 34 quality candidates shortlisted for interviews and further screening.
Professor Zafiroglu, Lecturers Dr Xuanying Zhu and Dr Mina Heinan conducted the first fieldwork in Brisbane for the project Arts and Agents where the School explores how the performance arts can inform our understandings of the performance of agency in AI-enabled cyber-physical systems, and can provide useful models for designing future relationships between people and autonomous systems.
We introduced Cybernetics to startups and partnered with the National Gallery for a cybernetic tour!
In collaboration with the Paul Ramsay Foundation, the School hosted three events during the 2022 Spark Festival. All events were held in Sydney at the Yirranma Place.
During the two workshops and a panel discussion, Research Fellow Chris Mesiku and PhD candidate Lorenn Ruster discussed how cybernetics can help inform and improve startups’ leadership, data management and ethics in a time of rapid and complex societal and technological transformations. They were joined by the School’s Partnerships Lead Jackie Randles and co-organiser, Paul Ramsay Foundation Head of Research Alex Fischer.
Watch the highlights of the panel discussion. Video by Hazen Studio.
Spark Festival is a not-for-profit, grassroots festival that aims to support the growth of new economy businesses to propel prosperity for all Australians. Its community is composed of startups, investors, SMEs, big corporates and innovators.
As part of the National Gallery of Australia’s 40th anniversary celebrations, the School also staged a first-of-its-kind tour around the behind-the-scenes spaces of the gallery. The immersive cybernetic walking tour investigated the dynamic relationships between humans, technology and the built environment found within works of art and the Gallery itself.
We launched Cybernetics at ANU!
The official School launch is the feather in our cap this 2022! Leading the School launch were our Director Genevieve Bell and ANU Chancellor Hon. Julie Bishop. In her speech, Hon. Bishop said the School is the first School of Cybernetics in the southern hemisphere.
Close to a thousand people attended the events series and the 15-day exhibition ‘Australian Cybernetic: a point through time’ that featured over 100 original Australian and international works from the early 1960s to 2022.
People. Places. Play. Possibilities. Watch the highlights of the first-week run of the #AustralianCybernetic exhibition. In each work, technology and creativity collide to create glimpses of the future.
The contemporary works were by the School’s artists-in-residence and collaborators. There were also significant works from the historic exhibitions Cybernetic Serendipity (London, 1968) and Australia 75 (Canberra, 1975). These two pivotal cybernetic exhibitions featured digital music, light, poetry, and sculpture—all created with and through computers—to start new public conversations and imagine new futures.
WATCH: Behind the scenes of the setup and installation of works for the exhibition ‘Australian Cybernetic a point through time’.
Early in November, we staged our Master students’ second-semester Demo Day.
Human-Machine Collaboration, graduation and yearend celebrations!
Five of our 14 Master students from this year had their early graduations, along with another student from the 2021 Cohort.
Senior Lecturer Elizabeth Williams, Professor Katherine Daniell, Lecturer Xuanying Zhu and PhD candidates Lorenn Ruster, Kathy Reid and Myrna Kennedy organised the Human-Machine Collaboration in a changing world 2022 held in Paris and hybrid on 1—2 December. This second workshop of the Algorithmic Futures Policy Lab centred on identifying challenges and opportunities presented by collaborations between humans and algorithmic systems (including artificial intelligence powered systems) in an uncertain world, with a particular focus on aspects relevant to the EU and Australia.
We also collected a wide-range of media features about our launch and exhibit. An entire ABC Radio National program episode was dedicated to our launch. Our story was also told on Crickey, Gizmodo, Innovation Aus and WIN News Canberra.