Conference: Understanding Anticipatory Systems

Word of this conference was recently posted on the ROSEN forum:

Mitteleuropa Foundation  

Understanding Anticipatory Systems

Rovereto, April, 10-12 2008

Futures studies (FS) is a broad field that employs a wide variety of techniques, ranging from forecasting to simulation, from planning to trend extrapolation to scenarios. FS is also characterised by many different conceptualisations and formalisations. The focus of this workshop is on a specific, recent development in the field of futures studies, namely the idea of “anticipatory systems”.

Intuitively, an anticipatory system is one where the actions of a system are influenced by expectations regarding future, anticipated phenomena. In other words, the choice of the action to perform depends, in part, on the system’s anticipation of its own evolution and/or the environment in which it exists. Non-anticipatory systems, on the contrary, are exclusively reactive systems where subsequent states depends entirely from preceding states (usually, according to some rule). Anticipation comes in different guises: the simplest distinction is between systems aware of their anticipations and systems unaware of them. Anticipation can therefore lie low and work below the threshold of consciousness or it may emerge into conscious purpose. In the latter form it constitutes one of the distinctive qualities of causation within the psychological and the social realms.

The aim of this workshop is to explore the implications for Future Studies as a discipline of using an “anticipatory systems” perspective for organising the field. This workshop is meant to the first in a series and will therefore also aim to set out a research agenda with respect to “anticipatory systems”. As well the workshop will include a tutorial on the theory of anticipatory systems as developed by the late Robert Rosen.

The list of speakers includes

  • Mika Aaltonen, The Third Lens – Why We See What We Do and Not Something Else
  • Liliana Albertazzi, The Micro-genesis of Anticipation
  • Ted Fuller, TBA
  • Aloisius Louie, Tutorial on Anticipatory Systems
  • Riel Miller, Changing the Conditions of Change: Futures Literacy
  • David Peat, Gentle Action
  • Roberto Poli, The Ontology of Anticipation

If you intend to contribute to FuMee 1 please send a two-page abstract to Roberto Poli ( before January 31. Please note that papers must be readable within 35 minutes so as to leave time for discussion. Preference will be given to those whose subject is close to the focus of the conference, namely anticipatory systems.

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