– Wiener, Norbert; Cybernetics; 1948.
Norbert Wiener invented the field of cybernetics, inspiring a generation of scientists
to think of computer technology as a means to extend human capabilities.
Norbert Wiener was born on November 26, 1894, and received his Ph.D. in Mathematics
from Harvard University at the age of 18 for a thesis on mathematical logic. He subsequently studied under Bertrand Russell in Cambridge, England, and David
Hilbert in Göttingen, Germany. After working as a journalist, university
teacher, engineer, and writer, Wiener he was hired by MIT in 1919, coincidentally
Bush. In 1933, Wiener won the Bôcher Prize for his brilliant work
Tauberian theorems and generalized harmonic analysis.
During World War
II, Wiener worked on guided missile technology, and studied how sophisticated electronics used the feedback principle — as when a missile changes its flight in response to its current position and direction. He noticed that the feedback principle is also a key feature of life forms from the simplest plants to the most complex animals, which change their actions in response to their environment. Wiener developed this concept into the field of cybernetics, concerning the combination
of man and electronics, which he first published in 1948 in the book Cybernetics.
Wiener’s vision of cybernetics had a powerful influence on
later generations of scientists, and inspired research into the potential to extend human capabilities with interfaces to sophisticated electronics, such
as the user interface studies conducted by the SAGE program.
Wiener changed the way everyone thought about computer technology, influencing
of the Internet, most notably J.C.R. Licklider.
1964, Norbert Wiener won the US National Medal of Science. In the same year, he published
one of his last books called “God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points
Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion”.
Resources. The following sites related
to Norbert Wiener and cybernetics have been established for several years.
Cybernetica has more than a thousand pages, including a list of influential Cybernetics and Systems Thinkers.
- The Research
Committee on Sociocybernetics is a member of the International
Sociological Association, and operates under the auspices of UNESCO to “promote
the development of (socio)cybernetic theory and research within the social sciences”.
- The American Society for
Cybernetics, whose objective is to “develop a metadisciplinary language with
which we may better understand and modify our world.”
- The Bacterial
Cybernetics Group collected evidence of cybernetic sophistication by bacteria,
including advanced computation, learning, and creativity.
Lists of sites: