Norbert Wiener

"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."
"We have thus established the basis in man for the simplest element in his communication: namely, the communication of man with man by the immediate use of language, when two men are face to face with one another... this capacity is not intrinsically restricted to the immediate presense of the individual, for we have many means to carry this tool of communication to the ends of the earth."


Norbert Wiener, Pink Floyd, Enigma Links:

Norbert Wiener (1894 - 1964)
"Wiener’s work before and during World War II led to the publishing of Cybernetics, or control and communication in the animal and machine in 1948. In it, he described a new way of looking at how the world functioned, based on his research on the way in which information is transmitted and processed. He saw a world that focused on information, not energy; and on digital or numeric processes, not machine or analog. His theories not only laid the foundation for this new field of study, they also largely predicted the future development of computers."

Homage to Norbert Wiener
"This suite of works, as 'homage', provides a playful cybernetic exercise which touches the very heart of the 'human - machine' dialectic. Each work consists of an electronic circuit that elects only one of two possible paths at the moment the user depresses the enter key."

Norbert Wiener's Ideas at the Dawn of the Age of Computing
"I wish to share with you a bit of the history of computing. I have chosen as my subject Norbert Wiener because of the magnitude, significance, and durability of his achievements but also because he wrote prolifically, with skill and great passion, about himself, his scientific work, and the responsibilities of a scientist in a democratic society."

A Curriculum for Cybernetics and Systems Theory
"If Western Civilization's science, religion, philosophy and epistemology were in better shape (more mature?), we would not need cybernetics and systems theory as separate areas of inquiry; they would be woven into the fabric of our knowledge as already are other prior mental tools such as: the flexibility of language, the rigor of linear algebra, and the etiquette of professional communication. But instead our tradition of education has a blind spot when it comes to complexity, interconnectedness and relationship, and properties that emerge from them."

The Bomb Was a Cyborg
"Pictured by the author as a cybernetic rather than an atomic age, the Cold War is shown to be structured by the quest for a cybernetic modelling of human intelligence capable to eliminate uncertainty. The rise of the cyborg figure in science fiction is brought into consideration as an illustration."

Cybug Central
"The cybug is intended to mimic life in it's most basic form. Rather than using a programmable micro-processor, it has simple instincts hard-wired into it which creates a very life-like behaviour. They exhibit emergent behaviour which seems to give the robots a personality!"

The Human Use of Philip K. Dick (currently offline)
"Norbert Wiener's The Human Use of Human Beings (1950), a manifesto of sorts which attempts to understand the mechanisms by which human beings communicate and thereby structure their society, would draw heavily on Shannon's ideas about information and popularize them in the early postwar period..."

The Cyborg Detector
"The identity of humans is no longer based on a body with a carbon substratum alone. by merging flesh that has a carbon substratum, metal and silicone substrated devices like semiconductor chips, the human experience of a sense-of-self is expanded by the properties and cultural factors of the absorbed components."

Gilmour Guitars & Gear: Play these strings until my fingers are raw
"The guitar signal was split by a stereo volume pedal into two delay pedals. The volume pedal also ran between the pre-amp and power amp of the first feed - into a Gallien-Krueger 250ML amplifier. The second feed was sent to a Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal into a Boss GE-7 graphic equalizer then into a Fender Super Champ amplifier..."

Norbert Wiener and Cybernetic Anxiety
"Of all the implications first-wave cybernetics conveyed, perhaps none was more disturbing and potentially revolutionary than the idea that the boundaries of the human subject are constructed rather than given. Conceptualizing control, communication and information as an integrated system, cybernetics radically changed how boundaries were conceived... In this viewpoint cane and man join in a single system, for the cane funnels to the man essential information about his environment. Similarly for a deaf person's hearing aid, a voice synthesizer for someone with impaired speech, and a helmet with a voice-activated firing control for a fighter pilot."

History of Artificial Intelligence (currently offline)
"Although the computer provided the technology necessary for AI, it was not until the early 1950's that the link between human intelligence and machines was really observed. Norbert Wiener was one of the first Americans to make observations on the principle of feedback theory."

Conquest: The Emergence from History (currently offline)
"But nature, incapable of destruction, knows only transformation. At this point the system transformed into an organizing principle based on the flow of information between humans and machines. In his 1954 book, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society, Norbert Weiner describes the new field of cybernetics as an analysis of society in terms of messages, in which the faculty of communication between man and machine allows us to understand the universe as a probabilistic, organic information system."

A Cyborg Manifesto
"Cyborgs are post-Second World War hybrid entities made of, first, ourselves and other organic creatures in our unchosen- 'high-technological' guise as information systems, texts, and ergonomically controlled laboring, desiring, and reproducing systems. The second essential ingredient in cyborgs is machines in their guise, also, as communication systems, texts, and self-acting, ergonomically designed apparatuses."

The Cybernetic Delirium of Norbert Wiener
"[M]y delirium assumed the form of a particular mixture of depression and worry... anxiety about the logical status of my... work. It was impossible for me to distinguish among my pain and difficulty in breathing, the flapping of the window curtain, and certain as yet unresolved points of the potential problem on which I was working... I became aware of the possibility that almost any experience may act as a temporary symbol for a mathematical situation which has not yet been organized and cleared up."

Cybernetics: One Definition
"Artificial Intelligence and cybernetics: Aren't they the same thing? Or, isn't one about computers and the other about robots? The answer to these questions is emphatically, No..."

Images of Organization (currently offline)
"From a cybernetic perspective, everything can be understood in informational terms... Cybernetic thinking has become an important part of the information revolution and underpins a great deal of work exploring the impact of information technology on human organizations."

Norbert Wiener University (in Peru)
"Automation in the whole machines and factories function, electronic brains, artificial arms and legs manufacturing, appliances for detect the enemy airplanes and rockets and could also prevent future moments."

Ex-Prodigies and Antiaircraft Guns
"One of the circumstances that brought Wiener together with the problem of antiaircraft guns, however, was downright weird. The technological turning point of the Battle of Britain, and a critical chapter in the science of communications systems in machines and organisms, originated when a young Bell Laboratories employee in America had an odd dream..."

The breakthrough of information theory
"After some more informal contacts during the first war years, on the initiative of mathematician Norbert Wiener, a number of scientists gathered in the winter of 1943-44 at a seminar, where Wiener himself tried out his ideas for describing intentional systems as based on feedback mechanisms. On the same occasion J.W. Tukey introduced the term a "bit" (binary digit) for the smallest informational unit, corresponding to the idea of a quantity of information as a quantity of yes-or-no answers."

Norbert Wiener and the Social Sciences
"He (N.W.) even coined the term cybernetics in its modern sense, although it was first used by Plato for steering a ship, then by Aristotle for steering a community, and more recently also by Ampère for steering a government."

Cybernetics, Time-sharing, Human-Computer Symbiosis and On-line Communities Creating a Supercommunity of On-Line Communities
"He was launching his vision of cybernetics in which he regarded signals in any medium, living or artificial, as the same; dependent on their structure and obeying a set of universal laws set out by Shannon. In the spring of 1948, Wiener convened the first of the weekly meetings that was to continue for several years... The first meeting reminded me of the tower of Babel, as engineers, psychologists, philosophers, acousticians, doctors, mathematicians, neurophysiologists, philosophers, and other interested people tried to have their say. As time went on, we came to understand each other's lingo and to understand, and even believe, in Wiener's view of the universal role of communications in the universe...
Wiener's stress on interdisciplinary and practical work in the field of communications helped to set the foundation for the upcoming developments in digital computers. By the mid 1950's, several members of the MIT community had been introduced to a new form of computing -- interactive computing..."

Norbert Wiener: a Memoir
"Wiener's presence at M.I.T. spans the period during which the Institute transformed itself from a technical school into a university of a novel type, one apolarized around science, and his intellectual virtuosity, curiosity and integrity contributed importantly to that transition."

Man-Computer Symbiosis/The Computer as a Communication Device (pdf format)
"Men appear to think more naturally and easily in terms of goals than in terms of courses. True, they usually know something about directions in which to travel or lines along which to work, but few start out with precisely formulated itineraries. Who, for example, would depart from Boston for Los Angeles with a detailed specification of the route? Instead, to paraphrase Wiener, men bound for Los Angeles try continually to decrease the amount by which they are not yet in the smog...
In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face... And we believe that we are entering a technological age in which we will be able to interact with the richness of living information—not merely in the passive way that we have become accustomed to using books and libraries, but as active participants in an ongoing process, bringing something to it through our interaction with it, and not simply receiving something from it by our connection to it."

Gregory Bateson: Ecology of Mind - Mind-ng Ecology
"It is to the Riddle of the Sphinx that I have devoted fifty years of professional life as an anthropologist. It is of first-class importance that our answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx should be in step with how we conduct our civilisation, and this should in turn be in step with the actual workings of living systems...
(He helped to elaborate the science of cybernetics with colleagues Warren McCulloch, Gordon Pask, Ross Ashby, Heinz von Foerster, Norbert Wiener, etc.)"

The Second Law of Thermodynamics
"Life is organization. From prokaryotic cells, eukaryotic cells, tissues, and organs, to plants and animals, families, communities, ecosystems, and living planets, life is organization, at every scale. The evolution of life is the increase of biological organization, if it is anything. Clearly, if life originates and evolves by chance, without organizing input from outside, then something has organized itself. Logical entropy in a closed system has decreased."

Extropy Institute
"Extropy Institute acts as a networking and information center for those seeking to foster our continuing evolutionary advance by using technology to extend healthy life, augment intelligence, optimize psychology, and improve social systems."

Techgnosis, Infomysticism, and the War Against Entropy
"So, what are we to make of our current information age? Techgnostics would suggest this is just merely one stage of a key ongoing process. Nanotechnology opens the possibility that life may start taking more direct control over matter. Biotechnology, that we may start taking more control of our own genetic code. Neurobiology, that we may unravel the 'brain code.' And global internetworking (the Internet) may be part of a planetary effort to combat other entropic processes (global warming and other forces of ecological disruption) that this stage of life has set in motion. Ours seems to be a time of crisis and cataclysm, but from the viewpoint of complexity theory this is to be expected. Evolving systems are always "poised on the edge of disaster," far enough from equilibrium to evolve, but balanced enough to not fall over the edge into total disorganization."

Principia Cybernetica
"This is the web server of the Principia Cybernetica Project (PCP), an international organization. PCP tries to tackle age-old philosophical questions with the help of the most recent cybernetic theories and technologies. Stated more precisely, the Project's aim is the computer-supported collaborative development of an evolutionary-systemic philosophy."

Cybernetics and Virtual Systems Unit (University of Bradford - UK)
"The new world of the Millenium will be a global village of communications and remote control systems. They will enrich our lives and bring a host of new commercial operations in manufacturing, service industries and leisure."

UCLA Department of Cybernetics
"A cybernetician is concerned mainly with the control and communication principles and properties of the particular system he or she is investigating. Living systems, for example, are typically viewed as a complex hierarchy of interacting control and communication networks through which information flows. Energy and matter are the carrier signals. The essential aim of cybernetics, then, is to advance the state of knowledge of the system, at all levels, by enhancing the understanding of the control and communication processes regulating their functional aspects."

Out of Control, by Kevin Kelly
"Of all the mathematicians assigned during World War I to the human calculating lab in charge of churning out more accurate firing tables at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, few were as overqualified as Private Norbert Wiener, a former math prodigy whose genius had an unorthodox pedigree..."

City of Bits, by William J. Mitchell
"For cyborgs, then, the border between interiority and exteriority is destabilized. Distinctions between self and other are open to reconstruction. Difference becomes provisional."

The Hacker Crackdown, by Bruce Sterling
"A science fiction writer coined the useful term 'cyberspace' in 1982. But the territory in question, the electronic frontier, is about a hundred and thirty years old. Cyberspace is the "place" where a telephone conversation appears to occur. Not inside your actual phone, the plastic device on your desk. Not inside the other person's phone, in some other city. The place between the phones. The indefinite place out there, where the two of you, two human beings, actually meet and communicate."

Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century (currently offline)
"In Chapter Four, we meet cyber-body artists such as Stelarc, who performs encrusted with implants and bristling with cables, dodging the unpredictable, potentially bone-shattering swipes of industrial robot arms. As well, we encounter D.A. Therrien, who stages hot-wired exorcisms in which nearly nude humans huddle in cages or writhe on electrified crucifixes while percussionists hammer rude tattoos on prostrate bodies, using electrified drum sticks."

Chaos & CyberCulture, by Timothy Leary
"My experiences, far from being original or unique, seem to be part of an enormous cultural metamorphosis. Like millions of others, I have come to feel as comfortable over there in Cyberia, Tubeland, on the other side of my electronic-reality window, as I do operating in the closed-in Terrarium of the material world. My brain, like yours, needs to be clothed in cyberwear and to swim, float, navigate through the oceans of electronic data."

Sirius Cybernetics Corporation
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Publius Enigma: The Final Message