Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Death of Jay Forrester

Dear ......:

It is with great sadness that we are writing to you to announce that Jay W. Forrester, Professor of Management Emeritus at MIT, has died at the age of 98.

A full obituary is now available in the New York Times. Further information is available via the System Dynamics Society homepage.

Many of us have memories we cherish and want to share about Jay and we know that members of the System Dynamics community are posting their thoughts and reflections on various social media. We would ask everyone to consider visiting the webpage dedicated to Jay and click on “comments” to write there about how Jay touched your life. This page is for us all. Write what you want others to see and hear. We will all gain from our memories of Jay.

Below are excerpts from the announcement on our homepage.

Jay founded what became the field of System Dynamics in 1956 and has had a profound and lasting influence on it throughout its 60-year history. A lifelong innovator, Jay was a pioneer in digital computing and helped create the computer age in which we all live today. Trained in electrical engineering, Jay came to MIT in 1939, where he worked on feedback control servomechanisms during World War II. After the war, Jay directed the MIT Digital Computer Laboratory, where he led the design and construction of Whirlwind I, one of the world’s first high-speed digital computers. He invented and holds the patent for magnetic core memory, the dominant form of random access memory (RAM) for decades (even travelling to the moon with the Apollo astronauts), until it was eventually replaced by semiconductors. Whirlwind became the basis for many innovations, from numerically controlled machine tools to SAGE, the first integrated continental air defense system.

Invited to join the faculty of the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1956, Jay created the field of system dynamics to apply engineering concepts of feedback systems and digital simulation to understand what he famously called “the counterintuitive behavior of social systems.” His ground-breaking 1961 book, Industrial Dynamics, remains a clear and relevant statement of philosophy and methodology in the field. His later books and his numerous articles broke new ground in our understanding of complex human systems and policy problems. Jay officially retired in 1989, but continued his work unabated, focusing on promoting the use of system dynamics in K-12 education.


Roberta and Etiënne

Roberta L. Spencer and Etiënne A.J.A Rouwette
Respectively Executive Director and Society President

System Dynamics Society
Milne 300, Rockefeller College
University at Albany, State University of New York
Albany, New York 12222
+1 518 442-3865

Bruno Latour essay - the elephant in the room

Says Latour,

"The question is whether the tragedy of November 8, following that of Brexit, can help us to avoid what comes next. In other words, can we get away from both utopias, that of the Globe as well as that of the Nation? What we need instead is an Earth that is solid, realistic, and durable. Alas, at present the ecological crisis is the elephant in the room, and yet it is as if nothing has happened, as if the choice were still between marching bravely into the future or clinging dearly to the past. Trump and his followers have even gone so far as to deny the very existence of this crisis."

Read the full essay.