The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future
Cybernetics is often thought of as a grim military or industrial science of control. But as Andrew Pickering reveals in this beguiling book, a much more lively and experimental strain of cybernetics can be traced from the 1940s to the present.
The Cybernetic Brain explores a largely forgotten group of British thinkers, including Grey Walter, Ross Ashby, Gregory Bateson, R. D. Laing, Stafford Beer, and Gordon Pask, and their singular work in a dazzling array of fields. Psychiatry, engineering, management, politics, music, architecture, education, tantric yoga, the Beats, and the sixties counterculture all come into play as Pickering follows the history of cybernetics’ impact on the world, from contemporary robotics and complexity theory to the Chilean economy under Salvador Allende. What underpins this fascinating history, Pickering contends, is a shared but unconventional vision of the world as ultimately unknowable, a place where genuine novelty is always emerging. And thus, Pickering avers, the history of cybernetics provides us with an imaginative model of open-ended experimentation in stark opposition to the modern urge to achieve domination over nature and each other.
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adaptive architecture Ashby Ashby’s Ashby’s cybernetics aspect Bateson Beer’s behavior biological computers Black Box brain science British chap chapter chemical computers connection counterculture critique cybernetic ontology cyberneticians Cybersyn DAMS deﬁned deﬁnition discussed dynamic emergent engineering environment equilibrium example exceedingly complex systems experience explore factory feedback ﬁeld ﬁg ﬁgure ﬁnd ﬁnding ﬁrm ﬁrst ﬁve ﬁxed ﬂicker ﬂows Fun Palace Gordon Pask Gregory Bateson Grey Walter homeostat human idea imagine Institute interaction interest Kauffman Kingsley Hall Laing Laing’s machine mental mentioned modern science Musicolour nonmodern ontological theater ontology organization Pask’s practice Project Cybersyn psychiatry R. D. Laing Ratio Club reﬂections relation representational robotics schizophrenia scientiﬁc sense signiﬁcant sixties social basis sort speciﬁc spiritual Stafford Beer syntegration theory tion tortoise vision Warren McCulloch Wiener Wolfram