To speak “Biological Computer Laboratory” (BCL) also speaks “Heinz von Foerster.”To invoke von Foerster also invokes the BCL community that hegathered through his unerring identification of original thinkersand his unparalleled clarity about second-order cybernetics.Having chosen well his lab's collaborators, von Foerster contributedseminal thinking that became foundations and superstructuresfor theoreticians great and small of the generations that followed. What contributions to cybernetics were rooted in the BCL?
What insights did von Foerster himself offer, such that his collaboratorscould stand tall on his shoulders and see more? With the benefitof twenty-five years' hindsight, the speaker will analyze thepublished outcomes of the BCL and conjure a picture of von Foerster'sinfluence on collaborators such as Gordon Pask and Humberto Maturana. A post hoc construction drawn from personal relationshipswith the protagonists, the talk will offer a unification of majorthreads of cybernetics, its concepts of memory, organizationalclosure and circularity, and show how von Foerster is inextricably woven in.
—Paul Pangaro, Vienna, November 2003