Creativity and Collaboration: Revisiting Cybernetic Serendipity



Organized by: Ben Shneiderman, Maneesh Agrawala, Alyssa Goodman, Youngmoo Kim, and Roger Malina 

50 years ago in an era of political turmoil, the artistic response was captured in a famed exhibit on Cybernetic Serendipity that celebrated how individual artists could creatively transform computers into art machines.  The rock star artists entranced 40,000 viewers with never-before seen images, films, music and sculpture.  The goals were to delight, surprise, and sometimes annoy audiences with their creations.  50 years later in another time of political turmoil, the capacity to make images, films, music and sculpture has been dramatically expanded to billions of users who create and publish their work online to their mega-million audiences.    

Creativity has expanded from the narrow museum galleries to the hyper-connected networked world in which ideas travel rapidly, collaborations flourish, and impacts are instantly visible in comments, likes, and page view counts.  Research has also been transformed from the solitary scientist to the teams who work together to produce breakthrough theories and validated solutions.  More than 90% of published papers in science and engineering are produced by teams compared to 50% just 50 years ago.  These changes were necessary because diverse skills are needed to achieve meaningful results for the key problems of our times: healthcare delivery, wellness, community safety, cybersecurity, energy sustainability, environmental preservation, etc.   

Research methods have also expanded from the narrow world of the scientific method, shaped by reductionist thinking that leads to hypothesis testing in controlled laboratory experiments. These are still important, but engineering processes based on modular designs that are refined through iterative prototypes have become vital to achieve the twin-wins of published papers and validated solutions.  Still newer research methods based on design thinking have opened up new pathways to discoveries and inventions. 

This colloquium will use the historical framework of Cybernetic Serendipity to look at how the context has changed. This will form the foundation for asking questions of how collaboration and creativity is impacting practice and research today.  How should we re-envision research policy and educational structures to maximize the impact of partnerships with design, art, and humanities? How can we productively engage business, government, and non-governmental organizations as research and educational partners?


Student Symposium (by application only)
Monday, March 12, 2018

Colloquium (open to public with advance registration)
Tuesday, March 13 - Wednesday, March 14, 2018

  • Where

  • National Academy of Sciences
    2101 Constitution Avenue, NW
    Washington, District of Columbia 20418

Registration Fee

Public Registration $200.00 payable by Visa or MasterCard online. (No American Express) 

Subsidized Registration $50.00 (sponsored by Science Sandbox - a program of the Simons Foundation)
There are a limited number of subsidized registrations for early career researchers or artists without funds for conference registration.  

Elected NAS/NAE/NAM members - $0.00 Registration Fee 

Press Passes - email  

To pay by company check, please enter all your registration information to the point of payment, then email  Staff will mark your registration complete, pending payment and generate an invoice with instructions for mailing a check.