Cybernetics: its future and impact

It was an American mathematician by the name of Norbert Wiener who first coined the word “cybernetics” in his book of the same title, which was published in the United States in 1948. It described the similarities in functioning of man and machines. He presented how purposeful and orderly the functions are as it seeks stability in the use of the information it receives. Wiener pointed out that one of the most fundamental characteristics shared by these two is the use of feedback, which, according to him, “involves the circling back of information to control a device to adjust behavior.

” Cybernetics, therefore is a study of control and communication in machines and animals (World Book Encyclopedia, volume four, p. 1204). Cybernetics has inspired efforts to build machines that simulate human behavior, including decision – making and analysis of data. In addition, some theorists chose to believe that cybernetics has started a second Industrial Revolution. This claim has been supported by the fact that such machines have carried out more than the simple mechanization of work.

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Since the 1940s, the influence of cybernetics has been felt in diverse fields of study. Its concepts have significantly influenced biochemistry, computer science and psychology, to name a few (Ibid, par. 1). Computer technology would not have been like what we know of it now, if not for Wiener. A mathematician and logician, Wiener had an important role in the development of high – speed electronic computers during World War II (1939 – 1945).

He was a recipient of the National Medal of Science in 1964 for his contributions to computer technology (World Book Encyclopedia, volume twenty – one, p. 301). When we talk about cybernetics, some questions that would probably pop into our minds are things like, “Is cybernetics synonymous to artificial intelligence? ” Or, “Is artificial intelligence about computers while cybernetics is about robots? ” As a matter of fact, researches in artificial intelligence employed the aid of computers to create clever machines.

For these researchers, it is the execution which could be considered the most crucial result. On the other hand, practitioners of cybernetics utilized models of organizations, feedbacks, goals and conversation in their attempts to figure out the capacity and limitation of any given system (biological, technological and social). For them, it is the powerful descriptions which are to be considered the most remarkable results. In 1960, the field of artificial intelligence began to flourish as the concept of universal computation.

The cultural view of the brain as a computer, and the convenience of digital computing machines came together to paint a future where computers were at least as smart as humans. The year was 1940 “when concepts of information, feedback and regulation were generalized from specific applications in engineering to systems in general, including systems of living organisms, abstract intelligent processes and language” (Pangaro NP).

Wiener, together with Arturo Rosenblueth and Julian Bigelow chose to adapt a Geek word meaning “the art of steering” to educe the full interaction of goals, predictions, actions, feedback and response in systems of all sorts. What caused cybernetics to rise to popularity was when Wiener used it to name disciplines separated from, but still related to psychology, neurophysiology, biology, anthropology, mathematics, and electrical engineering.

Since then, cybernetics has been linked to other established disciplines the world over. Earlier applications such as steering simple robots, designing electrical circuits, and aiming artillery, among others, in the control of physical systems provided the clarification of the key roles of these elements in engineering. Nevertheless, its connection to social systems and the other softer sciences was already been made distinct from the beginning (Ibid, par. 4). However, most people get the wrong idea about cybernetics.

One reason which can cause misinterpretation of the subject is the fact that the identity and margins of cybernetics is indeed, hard to comprehend. For non – practitioners, including professionals from various fields, the very nature of the idea of cybernetics as well as the scope of its application create the difficulty to establish a clarity regarding its concepts. This difficulty has been brought about by the fact that cybernetics itself was never a popular discipline on its own.

However, to a certain extent, its ideas and perspectives has made its way through sociology, post – modern thought, psychology, design methods and other fields of study. Another reason for misinterpretation of cybernetics can be attributed to the fact that the use of the prefix “cyb” or “cyber” further weakened its meaning as the prefix are commonly used to refer to the Internet “cyberspace” of the robots “cyborg. ” Because of this, people gained major confusion about cybernetics other than the few experts on the subject itself (Ibid, par. 5).