Intelligence and Cybernetics

Understanding Cybernetics in Smart Facilities and Businesses

Why is this topic important to the business you manage or own? 

You are poised to be impacted by Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) beyond your imagination and your business will most definitely be out of business within five years if not attentive to the revolutionary threat and opportunity associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is not the threat by itself, its other businesses that are well funded and intelligent enough to disrupt your existing business model by applying AI technology. Therefore, if you want to maintain your business, or are hungry to grow your business, you must start today by transforming your business by embracing existing enabling AI. To start these discussions in this blog, I’ll start by attempting to simplify how businesses, especially ones that rely on its facilities and workers to provide its products and services, can change now in order to prepare for commercially deployable Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). First, we have to get on the same page on how to think about advancing technologies, so we’ll start with some of the early thinkers.

Cybernetics, a term coined by Norbert Wiener in the 1940s, is the study of systems, control, and communication in animals and machines. While some of you may understand this topic well, we’ll start at the basics to bring everyone up to par.

In the context of modern facilities, cybernetics involves using advanced technologies to create systems that can monitor, control, and optimize their own performance. This concept is foundational to improving operational efficiency and sustainability in businesses, which has been at the core of advancing today’s conceptual smart building and smart grid.

What is Cybernetics?

At its core, cybernetics deals with feedback loops and control mechanisms that enable self-regulation. It’s about making systems intelligent enough to manage themselves with minimal human intervention. This self-regulation is crucial in various fields, from robotics to ecosystems, and is increasingly applied in managing complex infrastructure like facilities and utilities.

Practical Examples of Cybernetics


In manufacturing, cybernetic principles are used to enhance production efficiency. AI-enhanced systems continuously analyze production data and adjust processes in real-time. For instance, if a bottleneck is detected on a production line, the system can automatically reroute workflows to optimize throughput, reducing downtime and waste. 

Methodologies like Total Quality Management (TQM), lean management and six sigma were initially embraced by management in the 80’s to continuously improve on work processes and culture amongst workers. With AGI, there will be little to no human workers. Cybernetics will need to be perfected to be competitive using humanoids, intelligent systems, and people that get how to apply these technologies to transform their business models to profitable ones. Focusing on the enablement of autonomous corrective feedback loops through applied proven software is at a minimum the best approach today to prepare for cybernetics that will incorporate full AGI in the very near future.

Energy Management

In energy management, cybernetics enables autonomous systems to predict consumption patterns and rectify inefficiencies. Smart grids equipped with AI and machine learning (ML) can anticipate demand surges and adjust energy distribution accordingly, ensuring stable supply while minimizing energy waste. The rationale to focus on energy, is its not only a major expense today that can be cut in half by applying today’s proven AI technology and methods, but it arguably stands as the best cost and growth center to bring an entire business or industry into the thinking of cybernetics, which will enable the expansion to other opportunities of growth and advancement. 

How Cybernetics Enhances Facility Management

Real-Time Monitoring and Simulation

Using a digital twin — a virtual representation of physical assets — facilities can simulate real-world conditions. This simulation allows for real-time monitoring and analysis, providing decision-makers with actionable insights to optimize performance, predict maintenance needs, and make informed strategic decisions. Most people think digital twins are just for human decision makers; in the next two years the businesses that understand how to leverage digital twins to autonomously drive their services and internal operations will have the best chances to survive, and possibility to accelerate their growth. Simulation will need to advance to include the factual meaning of assets in concert with these assets’ relationship with other assets and people, or ontology. 

Predictive Maintenance

By leveraging historical and real-time data, predictive maintenance models can anticipate equipment failures before they occur. This approach minimizes downtime and maintenance costs, as repairs can be scheduled proactively rather than reactively. While, applied algorithms in low cost Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) have been around for decades based on simple sets of limit rules to alarm humans of potential issues, proven applied AI today changes the nature of how maintenance costs and failure can be reduced by orders of magnitude when properly applied to production systems. Sadly today many businesses don’t even have simple limit based alerting of issues. Today, most businesses don’t have the ability to efficiently apply readily available AI based systems. And while business seems fine, these businesses find little understanding of why they should invest in this critical internal capability of AI based efficiency and operational improvements as they don’t even have the tools to measure and analyze what are their present costs and revenue from their products and services, except for some highly advance manufacturing facilities driven by the goal of cybernetics. 

Autonomous Systems

Incorporating AI and ML into facility management enables the development of autonomous systems. These systems can self-monitor, adapt, and optimize their performance. For example, an AI-driven HVAC system can adjust heating and cooling based on occupancy and forecasted weather patterns, ensuring optimal comfort and energy efficiency. This example, of which there are many, is an easy place to start in driving out costs from your business and to understand the nature of cybernetics through model based autonomous controllability that drives to lower costs. 

Ontology-Based Systems for Better Decision-Making

An ontology-based system creates a shared understanding of concepts and relationships within an organization. This common framework enhances collaboration and innovation, as data from various sources becomes interoperable. In facilities management, this means integrating diverse data sources to provide a comprehensive view of all systems and components, improving decision-making and strategic planning. The approach of getting your facility’s ontology perfected today with proven AI given the future goal to reach full cybernetics for efficient integration of AGI has not been a subject of frank discussion. Cybernetics embedded in your operations into your guaranteed to be changed business model has little to know cost to the business when deploying this approach for cash flow positive projects that are guaranteed to be floating around your entire facility.

Benefits of Cybernetics in Smart Facilities

1. Improved Efficiency: Autonomous systems continuously optimize operations, reducing waste and energy consumption.
2. Reduced Costs: Predictive maintenance and real-time monitoring help avoid costly downtime and repairs.
3. Enhanced Resiliency: Smart systems adapt to changes in the environment or market conditions, ensuring continuous performance.
4. Strategic Insights: Advanced analytics provide actionable insights, helping organizations make informed decisions.

Further Reading on Cybernetics

For those interested in diving deeper into the subject of cybernetics and its application in smart facilities and business, the following references provide comprehensive insights:

– Wiener, N. (1948). Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. MIT Press.
– Heylighen, F., & Joslyn, C. (2001). *Cybernetics and Second-Order Cybernetics*. In Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology.
– Ashby, W. R. (1956). An Introduction to Cybernetics. Chapman & Hall.

Learn More with ONIT Global

To explore how cybernetics can revolutionize your facility management and integrate smart technologies seamlessly, contact ONIT Global. Our expertise can help you harness the full potential of intelligent systems for optimal performance and strategic advantage.

For detailed consultations and tailored solutions, visit ONIT Global.

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