Cybernetics: The science of steering systems

The etymology of cybernetics

In ancient Greek the word for ‘steer’ is ‘kybernan’ which in turn forms the root of the term ‘cybernetics’ coined 1948 by U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener. The construction is perhaps based on 1830s French cybernétique ‘the art of governing’. In an academic context cybernetics is the theory or study of communication and control. In general, cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities.

The Latin term ‘gubernare’ (to direct, rule, guide, steer, govern) has the same etymological root. The word ‘governor’ and ‘goverment’ are both related.”

Norbert Wiener
Wiener is considered the originator of cybernetics, a formalization of the notion of feedback, with implications for engineering, systems control, computer science, biology, neuroscience, philosophy, and the organization of society.

Norbert Wiener is credited as being one of the first to theorize that all intelligent behavior was the result of feedback mechanisms, that could possibly be simulated by machines and was an important early step towards the development of modern AI.

Norbert Wiener – The Application of Physics to Medicine (1953)


Further References

Miles, S. B., & Wiener, N.. (2006). The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society. Land Economics

Plain numerical DOI: 10.2307/3159747
DOI URL
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Heylighen, F., & Joslyn, C.. (2004). Cybernetics and Second-Order Cybernetics. In Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/b0-12-227410-5/00161-7
DOI URL
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Wiener, N.. (1956). The theory of prediction. In Modern mathematics for the engineer, editor E.F. Beckenbach
Rosenblueth, A., & Wiener, N.. (2002). The Role of Models in Science. Philosophy of Science

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1086/286874
DOI URL
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Rosenblueth, A., Wiener, N., & Bigelow, J.. (2002). Behavior, Purpose and Teleology. Philosophy of Science

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1086/286788
DOI URL
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Adams, F.. (2003). The Informational Turn in Philosophy. Minds and Machines

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1023/A:1026244616112
DOI URL
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Wiener, N.. (2011). Cybernetics, or control and communication in the animal and the machine (2nd ed.). Cybernetics, or control and communication in the animal and the machine (2nd ed.).

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1037/13140-000
DOI URL
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Wiener, N.. (1960). Some moral and technical consequences of automation. Science

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1126/science.131.3410.1355
DOI URL
directSciHub download

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