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This nOde last updated February 26th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
(7 Cauac (Rain) / 7 K'ayab (Turtle) 69/260 - 22.214.171.124.19)
"The problem of the work of art as a commodity raises a large number of questions important in the theory of information..."
"The dissemination of any scientific secret whatever is merely a matter of time..."
"The fact that we cannot telegraph the pattern of a man from one place to another seems to be due to technical difficulties, and in particular, to the difficulty of keeping an organism in being during such a radical reconstruction."
"It is my thesis that the physical functioning of the living individual and the operation of some of the newer communication machines are precisely parallel in their analogous attempts to control entropy through feedback."
"Moreover, with his love for the gadget as a collection of wheels that rotate and make noise, he has emphasized the extended physical transportation of man, rather than the transportation of language and ideas. He does not seem to realize that where man's word goes, and where his power of perception goes, to that point his control and in a sense his physical existence is extended. To see and give commands to the whole world is almost the same as being everywhere."
"To live effectively is to live with adequate information. Thus, communication and control belong to the essence of man's inner life, even as they belong to his life in society."
"The simplest mechanical devices will make decisions between two alternatives, such as the closing or opening of a switch. In the nervous system, the individual nerve fiber also decides between carrying an impulse and or not."
Norbert Wiener, raised to be a prodigy, graduated from Tufts at fourteen, earned his Ph.D. from Harvard at eighteen, and studied with Bertrand Russell at nineteen. Wiener had a different kind of personality than his contemporary and colleague, John von Neumann. Although involved in the early years of computers, he eventually refused to take part in research that could lead to the construction of weapons. Scarcely less brilliant than von Neumann, Wiener was vain, sometimes paranoid, and not known to be the life of the party, but he made important connections between computers, living organisms, and the fundamental laws of the physical universe. He guarded his ideas and feuded with other scientists, writing unpublished novels about mathematicians who did him wrong.
Wiener's conception of cybernetics was partially derived from "pure" scientific work in mathematics, biology, and neurophysiology, and partially derived from the grimly applied science of designing automatic antiaircraft guns. Cybernetics was about the nature of control and communication systems in animals, humans, and machines.
Norbert's father, a Harvard professor who was a colorful character in his own right, had definite opinions about education, and publicly declared his intention to mold his young son's mind. Norbert was to become a lovingly but systematically engineered genius. In 1911, an article in a national magazine reported these plans:
Professor Leo Wiener of Harvard University . . . believes that the secret of precocious mental development lies in early training . . . He is the father of four children, ranging in age from four to sixteen; and he has the courage of his convictions in making them the subject of an educational experiment. The results have . . . been astounding, more especially in the case of his oldest son, Norbert.
This lad, at eleven, entered Tufts College, from which he graduated in 1909, when he was only fourteen years old. He then entered Harvard Graduate School.
-_Tools For Thought_ by Howard Rheingold
"Wiener even suggests that the order-and form-generating
power of information
systems is basically analogous to what some people call god."
- Erik Davis - _Techgnosis_ re: _The Human Use Of Human Beings_
1948 - Cybernetics
Norbert Wiener published _Cybernetics_, a major influence on later research into artificial intelligence. He drew on his World War II experiments with anti-aircraft systems that anticipated the course of enemy planes by interpreting radar images. Wiener coined the term "cybernetics" from the Greek word for "steersman." In addition to "Cybernetics," historians note Wiener for his analysis of brain waves and for his exploration of the similarities between the human brain and the modern computing machine capable of memory association, choice, and decision making.
A painter like Picasso, who
runs through many periods and phases, ends up by saying all those things
which are on the tip of the tongue
of the age to say, and finally sterilizes the originality of his contemporaries
Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), U.S. mathematician, educator, founder of cybernetics. _The Human Use of Human Beings_, ch. 7 (1950).
Cover of _The Human Use Of Human Beings_
Floyd's _The Division Bell_
correlation discovered by Publius Enigma