[Free Reading] Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the MachineAuthor Norbert Wiener – Gsagency.co

It Appears Impossible For Anyone Seriously Interested In Our Civilization To Ignore This Book It Is A Must Book For Those In Every Branch Of Science In Addition, Economists, Politicians, Statesmen, And Businessmen Cannot Afford To Overlook Cybernetics And Its Tremendous, Even Terrifying Implications It Is A Beautifully Written Book, Lucid, Direct, And Despite Its Complexity, As Readable By The Layman As The Trained Scientist John B Thurston, The Saturday Review Of Literature Acclaimed One Of The Seminal Books Comparable In Ultimate Importance To Galileo Or Malthus Or Rousseau Or Mill, Cybernetics Was Judged By Twenty Seven Historians, Economists, Educators, And Philosophers To Be One Of Those Books Published During The Past Four Decades , Which May Have A Substantial Impact On Public Thought And Action In The Years Ahead Saturday Review


10 thoughts on “Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine

  1. says:

    Most of my reaction to this book is incidental to its content First, it s funny what once passed for pop science The reviews on the back from the Saturday Evening Post and others hail its readability for the layman, yet at least 10% of the pages are devoted to difficult equations and proofs, and I had to skip a couple of chapters because the math was way, way over my head.Second, much of the science Wiener pioneered has been obviated by the development of powerful tools in neurology and computing, among others One on hand, his ruminations on the potential of the machine to perform this or that task feel lost in a hastening genealogy of technological developments.On the other hand, Wiener was both philosopher and scientist As a scientist he was evidently peerless at the time as a philosopher he reads as quirky But at least he s trying A dyed in the wool materialist, his assertion that the body is a machine a wonderfully complex machine, but a machine nevertheless apparently had not been so internalized by his intended audience again, a mathematically literate lay audience that it was unnecessary to make the point But this hardly exhausts his argument Wiener was clearly an instrumentalist, and explicit in his theory of the human body is the idea that the workings of neurons, synapses, and brain waves could be translated to computing technologies for many applications, good or bad, which he discusses at length in other books like The Human Use of Human Beings It was prophetic of Wiener to predict that computing power would scarcely be limited, except by the efficiency of the vessel in which the computer operated, including considerations like energy conservation.The last and most pressing reason that the book is interesting is because Wiener, probably the highest authority in the world on the science of intelligence at the time the book was written, was clearly committed to a program of ethical research and development He warned of the danger of developing dangerous computing applications, and dismissed the idea that we can always turn off machines that we don t like, since it isn t always clear that the danger exists until after the damage is done We have to be careful lest we find ourselves cobras fighting mongooses mongeese


  2. says:

    This was a very interesting book It had some idiosyncrasies that prevented me from giving it a higher rating, but other than that, the subject matter and breath were fascinating enough for me to certainly recommend it to anyone with any interest in cybernetics as a broad concept.Let me first say that there were a few chapters in the beginning and end that were needlessly technical and mathematical It isn t so much that I object to the existence of mathematical proofs in their proper context, but it seemed unnecessarily detailed for the overall purpose and thrust of the book After working my way through a few of the demonstrations, I eventually gave up an took the author s word on the soundness of his conclusions I think this is fair enough to do, so much so, in fact, that I started to wonder why he was making me flip past pages upon pages of dense calculus only to arrive at a summary paragraph that would elucidate the meaning of his findings At one point he attempts to justify this technique by saying something to the effect of it would take me much longer to put these formulae into common English, so read them for their condensed shorthand value I, as the reader, would have been perfectly willing to let him dispose of the rigor for the sake of cleaner text But whatever maybe people really wanted to delve into that level of demonstration.In addition, for as direct and focused Wiener seems to be as a mathematician, his thoughts, and even his prose, seem disjointed and meandering He quickly moves from one large concept to the next, sometimes leaving the reader reeling trying to catch up He goes on digressions that seemed opinionated and lengthy, and, when returning to the original thread, makes no real indication that he has returned Other times these digressions will be nearly freeform transitions between concepts, similarly lacking indication that he has departed one concept and started addressing another That he does both of these leaves the reader wondering if the text is moving forward or looping back I would like to think that the author was making some larger point about the nature of cybernetics though this ambiguity, but this seems doubtful to me.These criticisms are small, however, taken in relation to the positive aspects of this book The conclusions being reached by Wiener might seem banal to a contemporary reader, but this only lends credibility to their influence Weiner not only anticipates a great deal of the future of computing, he also strongly develops a theory of the animal and human as, essentially, an organic computing machine not just the brain, but the whole organism Early in the work, he distinguishes this position from simplistic Cartesian materialism i.e with respect to Descartes conception of animals as sophisticated machines , and, instead, argues for a vitalism that explains the soul as a material concept It is non symmetrical feedback, as unfolding through time, that makes the system seem vital as opposed to mechanical, and it is this level of complexity that makes the behavior of animals and humans seem so radically different than the motions of planets or pendulums.The remainder of the work goes on to apply the cybernetic concept of feedback to a whole range of biological phenomena and computational questions in a way that demonstrates the power of the theory and the broadness of its application So much of what Wiener says is taken as understood in modern times that it is easy to lose sight of how striking his claims really are.


  3. says:

    This is a disorganized book that mixes super brief mathematical treatment of statistical mechanics, ergodic theory, control theory and stochastic processes with an explanation of the difference between digital and analog computers, and speculations about learning machines and the human nervous system It finds the same patterns of control and feedback occurring throughout the world, from the nervous system through society, and notes that while automatic control is not new centrifugal governors on steam engines were invented by James Watt in the 18th century, and analyzed by James Clerk Maxwell in the 19th, as mentioned in this book , ever powerful electronic digital computers will carry it to a new level The book warns that humanity needs to be super careful not to become a sorcerer s apprentice from the fairy tale, and have its power taken away by mindless computers In the next 65 years, computers did become far powerful, but they did not usurp power from humanity because they operate on data humans give to them, and if humans have an incentive to lie, garbage will both flow into the computers and come out of them The Soviet economy was a classic example If a factory manager was given a production plan, his compensation depended upon the fulfillment of the plan, but his suppliers let him down, he had an incentive to lie and to bribe any inspectors, and so on down the supply chain through the entire economy As a child I heard adults say that the Soviet State Planning Committee had an American VAX computer acquired in circumvention of CoCom restrictions a Cray would add and multiply fake numbers much faster, but the sums and products would be no less fake A modern example is the Enron bankruptcy scandal If Enron executives reported fake profits, no stock trading computer could understand that they are fake and make them stop only human prosecutors and judges could.In the Soviet Union in the early 1950s there was an ideological campaign against cybernetics, a reactionary pseudoscience , an ideological weapon of the imperialist reaction Having read this book, I still don t understand the reason for the campaign The idea that there are some common control and feedback patterns between mechanisms, animals, the human mind and human society can be construed as contradicting Marxism Leninism, which proclaims the primacy of matter over immaterial information at around the same time, genetics was also persecuted, and the idea that the development of an organism follows from the information in its DNA was denounced as a bourgeois pseudoscience But then, every branch of non Communist human thought can be construed as contradicting Marxism Leninism.


  4. says:

    everything is for science.


  5. says:

    The book was interesting to read Cybernetics had everything combined into one book It covers the biological factors as well as the technological and the historical It gave me a new perspective on how technology is similar to the human body An example from the text The synapse is a coincidence recorder, and the outgoing fibre is only stimulated if the number of incoming impulses 29 Overall the book was fascinating to learn about technology in a new perspective, but because this was for a class, I would not have chosen it to read on my free time unless I wanted to fall asleep.


  6. says:

    I was surprised to learn that Wiener actually cautioned against applying game theory and its models too generally Also, I didn t realize that the math of a book this influential, with applications to a diverse range of subjects, would require such an advanced understanding of calculus Suffice it to say, I was unable to appreciate the finer points of Wiener s mathematical scope Nevertheless, this book will only get influential with time, and the easy parts are still worth reading.


  7. says:

    Cybernetics is a foundational read Much of my technology has involved 2nd order work and my patents rely on Wiener s work as a basis.Good stuff Not for the light hearted, though.


  8. says:

    This is one of the two books I was obsessed with during my college years Luckily it is freely available on archive.org


  9. says:

    This book is rather unique, and perfect for a specific kind of reader Unfortunately, that reader is not me We start off with a chapter on science and time, dedicating itself to the difference between Newtonian and Bergsonian time From a philosophical perspective, this chapter is on that rare cusp between mind numbing boredom and usefulness For a science and science fiction oriented person this could be a pleasant and interesting read, but I found it to be mostly busy belabouring obvious points and being all around cumbersome in its style This strange interplay between a boring style of writing and a blend scientifically oriented manner of thought is carried along through the book, even at its most explosive and fascinating points To add to this mess of a read, mathematical explorations are sprinkled across the book, mostly for scientific completeness By scientific completeness, I mean that they add very little, and do not help to further construct or expose the main thesis of the book All this being said, the book is revolutionary in its thesis to bridge the gap between vitalist and uniquely humanist philosophies of the world Wiener mostly identifies Bergson with this view and materialistic and machinic philosophies of the world This gap has been aching to be bridged since its unbecoming formation with Cartesian philosophy This bridge is constructed in two layers the obvious and surface level mechanization of control and feedback loops, and the deeper level of finding in humanity essentially machinic components Statistics, feedback and parallel computation form qualitative multiplicities and dure tional time, thus forming the uniquely human from that which is unmistakably machinic and alien.The book is perfect for the scientifically literate sci fi enthusiast The philosophically inclined should take heed but still read the book, for it bears, from beyond the mask of humanity, the underlying universal machinic nature of everything The universe is not united Newtonically, by isolated and simple collision and causal relations, but by a machinic substructure of feedback and parallel action.


  10. says:

    A truly remarkable book, which shows that the real vision of computer scientists at the dawn of the computer age was literally to build an artificial of synthetic brain albeit rooted in the era s highly reductive and behavioristic understanding of the brain The brain is simply a feedback mechanism based on the binary firing of synapses and this is exactly what a computer is in material form.But Wiener was also a visionary about what the wider impact that the proliferation of artificial brains would entail Wiener foresaw that computing would devalue the human brain, and result in the elimination of vast swathes of intellectually oriented jobs he observed further that if these systems were to be deployed on the basis of what he called the open market, it would generate a disaster We have contributed to the initiation of a new science, which, he wrote, embraces technical developments with great possibilities for good and evil We can only hand it over into the world that exists about us, and this is the world of Belsen and Hiroshima He suggests that we need to establish a system of economic organization based on values other than profit, that workers will never figure out how to do this on their own, and that this process of revaluation is the responsibility of philosophers and statesmen.Seventy years on, his prediction seems right on the money as it were , and the work he called for remains to be done.