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"What is cybernetics?" conference lecture, Stafford Beer

Cybernetics (from greek κυβερνητική, "governance") is the interdisciplinary study of controlled processes and feedback loops.[1]


It grew from a desire to understand and build systems that can achieve goals, whether complex human goals or just goals like maintaining the temperature of a room under changing conditions.[2]

"Cybernetics as a concept in society has been around at least since Plato used it to refer to government. In modern times, the term became widespread because Norbert Wiener wrote a book called “Cybernetics” in 1948. His sub-title was “control and communication in the animal and machine”. This was important because it connects control (actions taken in hope of achieving goals) with communication (connection and information flow between the actor and the environment). So, Wiener is pointing out that effective action requires communication. Later, Gordon Pask offered conversation as the core interaction of systems that have goals.[3]

Paul Pangaro discusses how the fundamental concepts of cybernetics inform our perception of the world and of the quotidian.[4]

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See also