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Cybernetics

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Cybernetics is a theory of the communication and control of regulatory feedback. The term cybernetics stems from the Greek kybernetis meaning "steersman". Cybernetics as a discipline was developed by Norbert Wiener (in Cybernetics, or control and communication in the animal and machine, 1948) and others such as William Ross Ashby.

Wiener popularized the social implications of cybernetics, drawing analogies between automatic systems such as a regulated steam engine and human institutions in his best-selling The Human Use of Human Beings : Cybernetics and Society (Houghton-Mifflin, 1950). When asked why he had chosen the name cybernetics, Wiener replied, "I didn't know what else to call it."

Cybernetics is associated in many people's minds with robotics, due to uses such as Douglas Adams' Sirius Cybernetics Corporation and the concept of a cyborg, a term first popularized by Clynes and Kline in 1960. In scholarly terms, however, it is the study of systems and control in an abstracted sense - that is, it is not grounded in any empirical field.

See also: systems theory, complex systems

References

  • Manfred E. Clynes, and Nathan S. Kline, (1960) "Cyborgs and Space", Astronautics, September, pp. 26-27 and 74-75; reprinted in Gray, Mentor, and Figueroa-Sarriera, eds., The Cyborg Handbook, New York: Routledge, 1995, pp. 29-34.

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