K21st - Essential 21st Century Knowledge

Cybernetics is one of the most widely misunderstood concepts. The word itself seems sinister and futuristic, but the term has ancient roots – the Greek word kybernetes, meaning steersman. Cybernetics was famously defined in more recent times by Norbert Wiener in 1948, as the science of “control and communication, in the animal and the machine.” Words like “control” may seem to have creepy overtones, but at its heart, cybernetics is simply the study of systems. “Cybernetics is the discipline of whole systems thinking…a whole system is a living system is a learning system,” as Stewart Brand put it in 1980. Cybernetic systems have been used to model all kinds of phenomena, with varying degrees of success – factories, societies, machines, ecosystems, brains — and many noted artists and musicians derived inspiration from this powerful conceptual toolkit. Cybernetics may be one of the most interdisciplinary frameworks ever devised; its theories link…

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