CT: Cybernetics was christened publically with the publication of Cybernetics, by Norbert Wiener (1948). Two short extracts follow, both written by Professor F.H. George. The first is a summary (circa 1980) defining Cybernetics, the second (1965) outlines the major classes of Cybernetic problems.
Cybernetics could be thought of as a recently developed science, although to some extent it cuts across existing sciences. If we think of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc. as traditional sciences, then Cybernetics is a classification which cuts across them all.
Cybernetics is formally defined as the science of control and communication in animals, men and machines. It extracts, from whatever context, that which is concerned with information processing and control.
One major characteristic of Cybernetics is its preoccupation with the construction of models and here it overlaps operational research. Cybernetic models are usually distinguished by being hierarchical, adaptive and making permanent use of feedback loops.
Cybernetics in some ways is like the science of organisation, with special emphasis on the dynamic nature of the system being organised. The human brain is just such a complex organisation which qualifies for cybernetic study. It has all the characteristics of feedback, storage, etc. and is also typical of many large businesses or Government departments.
The central feature of Cybernetics is that of artificial intelligence, where the aim is to show how artificially manufactured systems can demonstrate intelligent behaviour. There are also various fields of applied cybernetics where this same decision can be shown to operate in fields like education, engineering, accountancy, and so on and so forth.
S: http://mkw.host.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/IC_Group/What_is_Cybernetics.html (last access: 24 February 2015)
N: 1. Coined 1948 by U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) from Greek kybernetes “steersman” (metaphorically “guide, governor”) + -ics; perhaps based on 1830s French cybernétique “the art of governing.”
2. cybernetics, control theory as it is applied to complex systems. Cybernetics is associated with models in which a monitor compares what is happening to a system at various sampling times with some standard of what should be happening, and a controller adjusts the system’s behaviour accordingly.
The term cybernetics comes from the ancient Greek word kybernetikos (“good at steering”), referring to the art of the helmsman. In the first half of the 19th century, the French physicist André-Marie Ampère, in his classification of the sciences, suggested that the still nonexistent science of the control of governments be called cybernetics.
S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cybernetics&allowed_in_frame=0 (last access: 25 February 2015). 2. EncBrit – http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/147802/cybernetics (last access: 25 February 2015).