Learning Change

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Posts Tagged ‘autopoiesis

Humberto Maturana’s view on the theory of evolution. From autopoiesis to natural drift metaphor

Today in the scientific circle Humberto Maturana is considered the creator of the so-called Santiago School of Biology (also known as Biology of Cognition). Biology of Cognition is a research programme seeking an explanation of the phenomenon of cognitive functions of living organisms through the concepts of self-organization (from dynamical systems theory) and structural coupling (from cybernetics). Maturana’s novel view is based upon research conducted with such prominent scientists like Warren McCulloch, Francisco J. Varela or Heinz von Foerseter. After many years of study of complex organic systems the research resulted in formulation of the following theories: autopoiesis of living systems (with F. J. Varela) and the evolutionary metaphor of natural drift (with J. Mpodozis). Theory of autopoiesis (self-production) shows how organic cells organize themselves in producing inner organic self components needed for maintaining homeostatis, natural barriers and remaining cognitive at the molecular level. By contrast, the metaphor of natural drift can be understood as the history of diversification and adaptation of species in relation to many structural levels of the environment. The following article constitutes a brief introduction to a critical way of thinking of the said Chilean theoretical biologist and philosopher, established during his long-lasting research. The paper will outline the basic concepts and theoretical implications relevant to modern biological sciences, with particular emphasis on the classical theory of evolution.

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A cuarenta años de la Autopoiesis

El alcance de éste se estudia en medicina, educación, f ilosof ía y psicología cognitiva. Maturana partió con la biología molecular, pasó al sistema nervioso y luego siguió con la biología del conocimiento y el lenguaje. Hoy, afirma que los humanos somos seres donde la biología y la cultura son “autopoiéticas“. Durante los últimos 50 años el biólogo sistémico ha dedicado su tiempo a comprender el conocimiento y el entendimiento humano.

Hace más de 50 años, Humberto Maturana era un joven biólogo que comenzaba a hacer clases en el ex Instituto de Ciencias, hoy Facultad de Ciencias de la Universidad de Chile. Entonces tenía poco más de 30 años y ya lo obsesionaba intentar dar respuesta a preguntas imposibles, o imposibles para quienes no buscan af anosamente encontrar respuestas. En sus propias palabras recuerda: “Yo me creía capaz de responder todas las preguntas, pero hubo una que me hizo un alumno en 1960 que no supe responder”. En esa clase Maturana estaba hablando de los primeros seres vivos en el mundo y calculó que la vida había comenzado hacía 2.800 millones de años. Entonces el alumno preguntó: “¿Que comienza hace 2.800 millones de años, de modo que usted me dice ahora que los seres vivos comenzaron entonces? Maturana se quedó en silencio, después de unos segundos respondió: “No lo sé, pero si usted vuelve a mi clase el próximo año le voy a proponer una respuesta”.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

November 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Autopoiesis, Maturana

Tagged with ,

Emergence and the new intelligence leadership

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Emergence, a vital phenomenon of evolution, has been the primary focus of numerous pioneer complexity researchers. In this study, the complexity-intelligence and emergence-intelligence linkages are scrutinised. Encompassing and exploring spaces of high complexity by human organisations requires a better comprehension of emergence and the new intelligence leadership strategy. As humanity is encountering edges of chaos more frequently, and interacting agents in human organisations are also becoming more intelligent entities, a transformation in leadership mindset and management strategy is inevitable. This analysis confirms that leadership can be rendered more effective if intelligence, complexity, emergence, autopoiesis and self-organisation are concurrently exploited.

In this respects, the effective self-organising ability of the human organisations is a new critical success factor. Thus, being able to nurture the deliberate-emergence ‘auto-switch’ and achieving a higher level of strategic complexity-competitiveness and sustainability is a new challenge. In this case, the effective leaders are those that channel a significant amount of time and resources into exploring and exploiting the complexity-emergence-intelligence relationships more holistically at all time. Thus, in summary, an intelligence leader is one that possesses the intelligence mindset, concentrates on third-order mental stability, makes preparation for edges of chaos, exploits spaces of high complexity, recognises the space-time interdependent  criticality and also focuses on longer-term survival and sustainability.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Leadership in a Networked World – The Case of Massive Multiplayer Online Environments

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MMOGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Games) and MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) are considered to be complex, ever increasing systems with a full range of social and material practices, where true mastery of the game can only be achieved by working collaboratively with other players. In situated learning theory, it is argued that learning, thinking and knowing emerge from a world that is socially constructed. Just as in a real world community, when newcomers enter a MMOG, they are gradually introduced to a complex social framework through the tutelage of other community member. They learn to make sense of new areas, especially by engaging with others, discussing, reflecting, and sharing. In order for players to succeed in these games, they have to self-organize and collaborate in order to form guilds; constantly improve to remain competitive, visioning the enemy’s and guild’s reaction. Nevertheless, these are important leadership skills for the real world as well, revealing multiple similarities that link the gaming world and the real world. In this sense, it is imperative to understand how these virtual environments can develop or enhance skills that are important for a person’s life and work in the 21st century. This realization stresses the need for researching and analyzing the social structures that players create through their interactions with other players. However, despite the significant amount of educational research and the growing interest of the scientific community in MMOGs, there is a lack of empirical research considering cognitive and social aspects of these games. This paper outlines the theoretical rationale behind a doctoral research project currently in progress, which examines the leadership skills that can be developed in a self-organized community in MMOGs. In order to address these issues, this paper presents a theoretical framework for analyzing the social interactions in Multiplayer Serious Games, within the context of community of practice, activity theory, connectivism, self-organization and autopoietic theory.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

First-line leadership as autopoietic system

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Complex adaptive organization is simultaneously open and closed. It must have a natural order and structure to embody high scale processes that are defined and understood, while at the same time being open to signals (or data) from the environment . These openings and closures to environmental signals and data do not occur at random or in predictable response patterns to environmental stimuli. They are the product of managed processes which nonetheless do not produce predictable responses because the social actors in these positions have the experience, responsiveness and authority to adapt to the specific situation. Certain roles have the responsibility for maintaining both the structural aspects that guarantee survival in the short-term, and to enable what van Krogh and Roos call “advancement activities”. These advancement activities fall into the categories of organisational process identified by Maturana and Varela as autopoietic. Access to the choices which constitute these autopoietic elements is central to the modalities which permit organisations to recreate themselves in order to face new and unknown challenges. This access is located at the level of operational leadership or first line management. It is at the level of operational leadership that confrontations between different versions of organisational and social reality most decisively occur and where the conditions for autopoetic transformation are most clearly met.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Developing new alliances in higher education leadership & governance – Autopoietic application of the “arts” creative capacities

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Based on Maturana and Varela’s neurobiological research, reality is a product created by us. Thus this paper is iterative in emphasising that we consider tempering policy, training, development, environment, leadership and management to recognise the presence of our various realities, including multiple meanings of creativity, innovation and finally entrepreneurialism. The benefit for all is a gain in diversity, so long as the actions are both observed and acted out in a narrative of constraint reflecting biologically based domains, rather than a narrative of an independent control world ‘out there’.

This paper suggests we do not need to demystify the creative process; we already live it. Rather we do need, and have made an effort here, to demystify the focus on structures that enhance creativity, and the focus on topologies of creative behaviour that generate ‘useful’ and ‘valuable’ innovations. Facilitating learning, and providing new knowledge regarding creative acts and ‘habits’, as well as developing highly flexible “learning scaffolds”, all offer spaces of adjacent possibility (and not as rewards) where humans might work with “unproven assumptions, practice in different but related scenarios, using known tools in an unknown area”, and even using unknown tools in a known area.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Autopoiesis, Creativity

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Leadership in Team Based Knowledge Management – An Autopoietic Information System’s Perspective

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In this paper we show how team work between participants can be facilitated through the use of principles from autopoietic theory and modern Web2.0 technologies like social networks, forums, semantic wiki systems, podcasting,  as well as social tagging in order to provide a suitable environment for knowledge management. We argue that leadership is an important factor for autopoiesis emergence as well as project success. Results form an experiment conducted on 160 students show that teams that were able to find a leader during the first week of collaboration were successful while teams who didn’t had problems in establishing creative collaboration. In the end we argue that by providing facilities for a dynamic leadership role one indirectly can facilitate the emergence of autopoiesis in such an environment.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Autopoiesis and Life

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Life is defined by Maturana and Varela as a type of self-organization: autopoiesis in the physical space. This resembles the concept of metabolism, which itself is typically included in definitions of life. Three senses of  metabolism are distinguished. If  life depends on either autopoiesis or metabolism (in the third sense), then strong A-Life is impossible. The theory of autopoiesis challenges concepts familiar in biology and cognitive science. While its use of informational language is too restrictive, its use of cognitive language is too liberal: life does not imply cognition.

The autopoietic approach is unusual also in its choice of theoretical vocabulary for describing behaviour. Orthodox biologists, neuroscientists, and most cognitive scientists are happy to speak in terms of function, information processing (including input, output, computation, instruction, translation, execution, and code), representation, and learning. Maturana and Varela use autopoietic arguments to criticize each of these concepts. Although admitting that they can be useful metaphors, they also see them as potentially misleading. They prefer to speak in literal terms of intimately coupled  dynamical systems, connected in a continuous process of mutual perturbation.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Autopoiesis, Life

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