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2015-10-11

Introduction to Cybernetics (1957)

Growing up as a fan of SciFi, I could not tell you when exactly I heard the term Cybernetics.  It was not an unfamiliar term the first time I saw Picard get assimilated by the Borg.  So when I came across this post on Hacker News today to a PDF of the book Introduction to Cybernetics by W. Ross Ashby and saw the copyright date of 1957 my mind kind of boggled.

From the Preface:
Many workers in the biological sciences—physiologists, psychologists, sociologists—are interested in cybernetics and would like to apply its methods and techniques to their own speciality. Many have, however, been prevented from taking up the subject by an impression that its use must be preceded by a long study of electronics and advanced pure mathematics; for they have formed the impression that cybernetics and these subjects are inseparable.
And in the first chapter he begins with:
Cybernetics was defined by Wiener as “the science of control and communication, in the animal and the machine”—in a word, as the art of steermanship, and it is to this aspect that the book will be addressed. Co-ordination, regulation and control will be its themes, for these are of the greatest biological and practical interest.
It was interesting to read through and see in-depth discussion on the nature of cybernetics without the filter of almost six decades of science and science fiction.

You can read the full PDF of the book here:  http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/books/introcyb.pdf