6th April, 2018

AISB 2018 Symposium: Cybernetic Serendipity Reimagined

University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom

About the Symposium

Following the successful AISB Member Workshop VII: Serendipity Symposium held at St Mary's University in June 2017, with keynotes by leading serendiptologists and nine contributed talks, we invite full papers, short papers, and demos for a Symposium on the theme of "Cybernetic Serendipity" -- broadly understood.

We take the 50th Anniversary of the famous Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition, curated by Jasia Reichardt at the London's Institute for Contemporary Arts, as our inspiration. The show introduced a broader audience for the first time to emerging work on the intersection of art and technology. It coincides with the founding of the Computer Arts Society (CAS). “Cybernetic Serendipity” lends itself beautifully (perhaps even serendipitously) to a sensory and emotionally evocative exploration of “AI for the Digital Society”, the theme of this year’s AISB convention.

Serendipity has been studied extensively to theorise human discovery. However, there has been little consideration of serendipity in AI -- it simply wasn’t needed, because systems were designed to run in a perfectly predictable manner within highly constrained environments. In recent years, anticipation of AI systems with increasingly unpredictable behaviour leads us to reconsider the role of serendipity in a computational context. Serendipity has been addressed in a variety of adjacent fields such as recommender systems, machine ethics, information retrieval, information science, planning and computational creativity. With this symposium, we want to encourage a mutually beneficial exchange between these and other disciplines beyond computing.

This symposium is part of the AISB 2018 convention. An article on our preceding AISB Member Workshop has been published by Studio International, and a separate report, written by the organisers, was published in AISB Quarterly 147.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Paper and Demo Submission — 12th January, 2018
Notification to Authors by — 5th Feburary, 2018
Deadline for Camera-Ready Papers — 5th March, 2018
Symposium — 6th April 2018

Host Institution

University of Liverpool
As part of AISB 2018 convention
United Kingdom


The symposium will be opened by a 50-minutes keynote, following by long (20 min talk, 5 min questions) and short (15 min talk, 5 min questions) talks. We conclude the symposium by a series of brief (10 min talk, 2 min questions) "cyber-talks" given by on-line participants. Following their talks, the on-line participants will join a panel for a more comprehensive discussion. We have provided links to the papers where available. Please note that these papers will also be available as part of the AISB convention proceedings.

Morning Session

  • 11:00-12:30 Parallel Symposia (Chair: Colin Johnson)
    • 11:00 Introduction
    • 11:15 Alison Pease (Keynote): Modelling Serendipity in a Computational Context
    • 12:05 Katie Mccallum, Majed Al-Jefri and Kate Monson: Making Sense of the Incomprehensible: Naivety as a Tool for Escaping Anthropocentric Narratives (Paper)
  • 12:30-13:30 Lunch

Afternoon Programme

  • 13:30-15:00 Parallel Symposia (Chair: Anna Jordanous)
    • 13:30 Aleksandar Zivanovic and Edward Ihnatowicz: Sound Activated Mobile (SAM) at Cybernetic Serendipity (Paper)
    • 13:55 Roisin Loughran and Michael O'Neill: Serendipity in Melodic Self-organising Fitness (Paper)
    • 14:20 Joseph Corneli, Dave Murray-Rust and Benjamin Bach: Towards Open-World Scenarios: Teaching the Social Side of Data Science (Paper)
    • 14:40 Ian Helliwell: Symbiosis - Electronic Music for an Analogue and a Digital Age (Paper)
  • 15:00-15:30 Tea Break - with a special presentation by Elaine O'Hanrahan: The role of chance in the machine-generated art of Computer Art pioneer, Desmond Paul Henry (1921-2004) (Paper)
  • 15:30-17:00 Parallel Symposia (Chair: Joe Corneli)
    • 15:30 Ricardo Melo and Miguel Carvalhais (Cyber-talk): The Chance of Serendipity (Paper)
    • 15:42 Dietmar Köring (Cyber-talk): The Technobody - An animatronic artefact as manifestation of 2nd Order Cybernetics (Paper)
    • 15:54 Paul Pangaro (Cyber-talk): Colloquy of Mobiles 2018 Project (Paper)
    • 16:06 Liss C. Werner (Cyber-talk): Gordon Pask’s ‘Cybernetic Theatre’: beyond tinkering with Architecture (Paper)
    • 16:18 Discussion / panel for participants

Submit a Paper or Demo

Please submit your paper or demo description on Easychair.

For papers, please use the AISB 2018 Latex style file. Papers will be accepted as 'Long' papers and 'Short' papers for the final symposium proceedings which will be published by the AISB. Short papers should be limited to 4 pages, and long papers limited to 8 pages (including references).

Demos should be accompanied by a 2 page description. Demos may touch on any aspect the above description, along with interactive art, soft robotics, experimental and electronic music, generative literature, installations, games, and other genres within and beyond the traditions of cybernetic art.

All submissions will be reviewed for their potential to spark discussion, and can describe work or ideas at any stage of development. Each accepted submission will be allocated 20 minutes of time in the programme, which should incorporate time for Q&A. The schedule will also include sessions devoted to brainstorming and reflection.

Relevant topics include:

  • Historical material related to the 1968 "Cybernetic Serendipity" exhibition in London, and its artefacts and archives.
  • Discussions of other landmarks and trends in computer art and the culture of computing, with a particular focus on “lessons learned” that can encourage further serendipitous encounters between artists and computer scientists.
  • Serendipity, not limited to themes discussed in the Member Workshop, which included information encountering, social platforms, machine intelligence, robustness and anti-fragility, and intelligent support tools for research.
  • The implications of learning and adaptive systems for AI ethics.
  • Contemporary research that draws on Cybernetics, e.g., in complex systems science, organisational theory, semiotics, etc., and that develops a new interpretation of the theme “Cybernetic Serendipity”
  • Research on innovation, including simulation studies and computational modelling of serendipity, surprise, curiosity, etc., as well as experience reports about innovative system designs implemented using non-computational means. Reports of both successes and interesting failures are welcome.
  • Additional philosophical implications arising from the above topics.


Please register through the AISB 2018 convention website.

Programme Committee

  • Joseph Corneli (University of Edinburgh)
  • Raul Espejo (Syncho Research)
  • Christian Guckelsberger (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Michael Hohl (Fachbereich Design Dessau)
  • Anna Jordanous (University of Kent)
  • Colin Johnson (University of Kent)
  • Dietmar Köring (TU Berlin)
  • Stephann Makri (City, University of London)
  • Dave Murray-Rust (University of Edinburgh)
  • Mark J. Nelson (Falmouth University)
  • Diarmuid O'Donoghue (Maynooth University)
  • Elaine Ohanrahan (Curator at D. P. Henry Archive)
  • Norbert Palz (UDK Berlin)
  • Paul Pangaro (College for Creative Studies, Detroit)
  • Liss Christine Werner (Technische Universität Berlin)

Organisers / Contact

Please email your general questions to serendipity.symposium[at], or get in touch with Joe for specific enquiries.


Joseph Corneli
University of Edinburgh


Anna Jordanous
University of Kent


Colin Johnson
University of Kent


Christian Guckelsberger
Goldsmiths, University of London