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Whence cybernetics?

William B Dwinnell wbdst+ at pitt.edu
Sun Jul 4 17:08:00 EST 1993

The passage you posted concerning cybernetics is somewhat misleading.  The
term "cybernetics" was coined by Norbert Wiener in the 1940's, defining it
as "the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the
machine or in the animal".  In its narrowest sense, as Wiener wrote about
it, cybernetics might be thought of as a precursor to modern information
theory (he mentions Shannon, by the way, in his book "Cybernetics"), control
theory (including what we now call robotics), and, to some degree, prediction.
In the most general sense, "cybernetics" may be construed as covering all 
of computer science, and more.  It is common today for people to present
cybernetics in light of AI or robotics, but there is no reason to put
this special slant on cybernetics.  Probably the most accurate short
definition of "cybernetics", using contemporary terminology would be a 
proto-science concerning information theory and communication theory.

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