Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search Of Norbert Wiener--Father of Cybernetics

Front Cover
In the middle of the last century, Norbert Wiener-ex-child prodigy and brilliant MIT mathematician -founded the science of cybernetics, igniting the information-age explosion of computers, automation, and global telecommunications. Wiener was the first to articulate the modern notion of "feedback," and his ideas informed the work of computer pioneer John von Neumann, information theorist Claude Shannon, and anthropologists Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead. His best-selling book, Cybernetics , catapulted him into the public spotlight, as did his chilling visions of the future and his ardent social activism. So what happened? Why is his work virtually unknown today? And what, in fact, is Wiener's legacy? In this remarkable book, award-winning journalists Conway and Siegelman set out to rescue Wiener's genius from obscurity and to explore the many ways in which his groundbreaking ideas continue to shape our lives. Based on a wealth of primary sources (including some newly declassified WW II and Cold War-era documents) and exclusive interviews with Wiener's family and closest colleagues, the book reveals an extraordinarily complex figure, whose high-pressure childhood, manic depression, and troubled relationships had a profound effect on his scientific work. No one interested in the intersection of technology and culture will want to miss this epic story of one of the twentieth century's most brilliant and colorful figures.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JohnAGoldsmith - LibraryThing

An important book for anyone who wants to understand why cybernetics died on the vine in the mid 1950s. The Conways reveal the role that Wiener's wife, of all things, played in this. I won't spoil the story; read the book Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - name99 - LibraryThing

Disappointing. I was hoping for a serious discussion of WIener integration, but this was a pop biography, big on his personal life but not on the details of his work. Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2005)

Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman are award-winning journalists and the authors of the bestselling Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change and Holy Terror: The Fundamentalist War on America’s Freedoms in Religion, Politics, and Our Private Lives . They live in New York City. Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman are award-winning journalists and the authors of the bestselling Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change and Holy Terror: The Fundamentalist War on America’s Freedoms in Religion, Politics, and Our Private Lives . They live in New York City.

Bibliographic information