Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

With the influential book Cybernetics, first published in 1948, Norbert Wiener laid the theoretical foundations for the multidisciplinary field of cybernetics, the study of controlling the flow of information in systems with feedback loops, be they biological, mechanical, cognitive, or social. At the core of Wiener's theory is the message (information), sent and responded to (feedback); the functionality of a machine, organism, or society depends on the quality of messages. Information corrupted by noise prevents homeostasis, or equilibrium. And yet Cybernetics is as philosophical as it is technical, with the first chapter devoted to Newtonian and Bergsonian time and the philosophical mixed with the technical throughout. This book brings the 1961 second edition back into print, with new forewords by Doug Hill and Sanjoy Mitter.

Contemporary readers of Cybernetics will marvel at Wiener's prescience—his warnings against “noise,” his disdain for “hucksters” and “gadget worshipers,” and his view of the mass media as the single greatest anti-homeostatic force in society. This edition of Cybernetics gives a new generation access to a classic text.

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Andreas Vik