From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics
In this book, Slava Gerovitch argues that Soviet cybernetics was not just anintellectual trend but a social movement for radical reform in science and society as a whole.Followers of cybernetics viewed computer simulation as a universal method of problem solving and thelanguage of cybernetics as a language of objectivity and truth. With this new objectivity, theychallenged the existing order of things in economics and politics as well as in science.The historyof Soviet cybernetics followed a curious arc. In the 1950s it was labeled a reactionarypseudoscience and a weapon of imperialist ideology. With the arrival of Khrushchev's political"thaw," however, it was seen as an innocent victim of political oppression, and it evolved into amovement for radical reform of the Stalinist system of science. In the early 1960s it was hailed as"science in the service of communism," but by the end of the decade it had turned into a shallowfashionable trend. Using extensive new archival materials, Gerovitch argues that these fluctuatingattitudes reflected profound changes in scientific language and research methodology acrossdisciplines, in power relations within the scientific community, and in the political role ofscientists and engineers in Soviet society. His detailed analysis of scientific discourse shows howthe Newspeak of the late Stalinist period and the Cyberspeak that challenged it eventually blendedinto "CyberNewspeak."
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