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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Cybernetics:

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    • Expand the descriptions of the nature of cybernetics. See Game theory for a good example of what a nexus page like this one can be.
      • How the theories apply to both biological and artificial entities
      • Modern cybernetic research
      • Overviews of the various aspects of the sub-fields and their "big picture" relevance
    • Verify the various dates in the history section, as well as the history itself. Factually it seems accurate, but the precise details need verifying.

    This article can be a featured article after some work.

    Ştefan Odobleja not mentioned[edit]

    I see there is no mention of the Romanian Scientist Ştefan Odobleja. Quoting his Wiki page, "His major work, Psychologie consonantiste, first published in 1938 and 1939, in Paris, had established many of the major themes of cybernetics regarding cybernetics and systems thinking ten years before the work of Norbert Wiener was published in 1948.". However, because of the outbreak of World War 2, his book was largely ignored. So I figure he should be given the honorary mention he deserves. Vlad.teo (talk) 15:50, 26 September 2012 (UTC)

    Awful Picture[edit]

    Is the original image in available anywhere? Not only does the awful second life renderer... render most of the writing illegible, it even clips some off from the right. Pthag (talk) 03:42, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

    SimCity etc[edit]

    Is the production of computer games such as Simcity an example of a program which is written to express a cybernetic model of society? LookingGlass (talk) 16:43, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

    No.-- (talk) 04:24, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

    Which book was first published in France?[edit]

    The article says that it was France "... where Wiener's book was first published." This can hardly be true.

    Believe it or not, it was France where the English speaking Wiener's book was published. It was so revolutionary that only there could he find a publisher.--Scorpion451 21:10, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

    Same as James Joyce with Ulysses. :D

    "Unbeknownst"? How do we know?[edit]

    "The word cybernetics ('cybernétique') had, unbeknownst to Wiener..."

    Without external verification that he wasn't knowledgable of this earlier usage, chances are equal that he did actually note it and chose to disregard it. The line makes the article more interesting, so I'll just append "ostensibly" to it. If one of the sources states it explicitly somewhere, just change it back. ~Anon

    Contribution to cybernetics[edit]

    This section is moved here from the Cybernetics ToDo template

    by Jacques angibeaud 8/21/07 Books speaking of systemics and cybernetics show these words are associated. 1) A system well known by a human is his PERSON, healthy in his body and in his spirit. For living several decades, millions actions must be done by a human. His behaviour must be cybernetic. This word designates the process that each human must do, must carry out again and again, to live again.

    A proof is a human conducting his vehicule. Why is he in his vehicule? why at this X point? where does he come from? where he is going to? Several questions can be asked.

    At a higher level of abstraction, new questions for a human : what can I do on the earth? why am I here? to do what? Am I useful? ... 2) Previous questions go to an answer. Each human has his feet on the earth.What the consequence of action: lift up ? The earth has a (constant) cinetic moment, equal to inertial moment multiplied by angular rotational speed. 'lift up' human action increases inertial moment of the earth. The consequence is rotational speed decreases. The proof is given by International Bureau of Time, which decreases the second of one millisecond each eleven or twelve months.It is necessary for sun zenith at midday. At another abstraction level, the human lift up has the consequence that the earth volume increases. It means : the density of the earth decreases. Birds in the sky, aircrafts,... have the same consequence. Human activity has made Stone henge, Carnac, pyramids, temples, ...

    This phenomenon is general in the universe. A proof is the sun looses fifty millions tons (mass) per second. This energy (E=mc2) scatters elsewhere in the universe. This is called ENTROPY. A notion, associated at cybernetics, is NEGUENTROPY. This word means negative entropy. It designates an anti-entropic processus. This neguentropic notion has been invented by Paul Idatte in 1960.

    The proof is given by the life on the earth, photosynthesis transforms in mater, three percents of sun energy received by vegetation.

    Conclusion: a system which executes a cybernetic processus, is neguentropic. The name of this specific system is CYBER. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:14, August 21, 2007 (UTC)

    The first artificial automatic regulatory system[edit]

    Aren't the flights ("fletchings") of an arrow (or dart) an 'artificial automatic regulatory system' ? When the arrow starts to pitch or yaw, the flights guide it back on course by introducing drag in the opposite direction. A prehistoric invention, flighted arrows are much older than the water clock. Of course, if the archer is considered 'part of the system', then it's not entirely automatic, but I would argue that 'arrow in flight' is a discrete system in itself. (The arrow may have been fired by an automatic catapult). Brennanyoung (talk) 15:11, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

    Obviously what you describe is a cybernetic system. But the first MAN-MADE one? No. That is human society itself. (talk) 02:06, 28 May 2014 (UTC)


    There are practically no citations in this article. There definitely need to be citations for all that information. Dreamer.redeemer 06:16, 3 September 2007 (UTC)


    Can some one clarify Ramanujuan's contribution?--Nick Green 20:23, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

    I guess you have problems with the following sentence:
    Another modern name that can be added to the list of contributors to the field of Cybernetics is that of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a brilliant Indian mathematician.
    I agree that this remark is kind of outplaced so I removed it for the moment. If someone else could explain this, it can be placed back again. - Mdd 21:03, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
    Thanks Mdd. Maybe some Number Theory expert can make the case for putting it back.--Nick Green 23:13, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

    Cyberneticist or Cybernetician?[edit]

    What is the preferred term for a practitioner of cybernetics? The category is Category:Cyberneticists, but the Template:Cybernetics calls them cyberneticians. --RichardVeryard 14:50, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

    This is tricky. Pask (described as a genius and the cybernetician's cybernetician by H von Foerster also a cybernetician and architect of the Biological Computer Laboratory) preferred the term cybernetist attributing it to Professor Peter B. Fellgett FRS an honorary fellow of the Cybernetics Society that awards a professional qualification in cybernetics (MCybS and FCybS). He felt it more euphonious than cyberneticist. This must be regarded with some seriousness as those using cybernetician (most) see the comparison of physicist and physician as defining. Pask started out basing his cybernetics in cognition (suggesting cybernetician) but his information flows in "any medium" shifted his self description into cybernetist (in his Interactions of Actors ms- see Gordon Pask Papers) but never cyberneticist. Others should express their view. Cybernist has 130 occurrences on Google today, cyberneticist 21,800 and cybernetician 22,800. Cybernetist scores 10 hits. Maybe a linguist could comment. --Nick Green 23:15, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
    I also found the same google rates. This is maybe why I'm not so sure that we need to use one term. Why not use both? - Mdd 23:47, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
    I certainly don't propose to go through the whole of Wikipedia standardizing on one term rather than the other. But I think the template and the category should use the same term, because using two different terms is untidy and creates unnecessary confusion. (An encyclopedia is not written for people who already know whether two terms are exactly or nearly equivalent.) The comparison with physicist and physician is not really relevant, because these are entirely different professions (nowadays). --RichardVeryard 14:02, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
    I agree. What do you think we should use? - Mdd 14:18, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
    I have no preference. --RichardVeryard 14:49, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
    I have noticed that there is a Wiktionary article on cyberneticist - Mdd 23:36, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

    Wikipedia:WikiProject Cybernetics and Portal:Cybernetics[edit]

    This item is copied from User talk:Nick Green

    The idea is to start a Wikipedia:WikiProject Cybernetics and/or a Portal:Cybernetics. Both have a different aim:

    • a WikiProject is a kind of cooperation between editors to improve the represention in Wikipedia of a specific field (Cybernetics) and to initiate and coordinate further innovations.
    • a Portal is main pages for specific topics or areas; a kind of homepage; a general representation of the field; a introduction of the existing articles, facts, images, persons in the field and new developments.

    Some general information can be found on (or look at some examples)

    Now WikiProjects can fulfill multiple tasks (it can start with the first).

    1. Platform to discuss, initiate, coordinate, control, etc.
    2. Assessment
    3. Peer Review
    4. Collaboration
    5. Portal(s)

    Now it that some hours till days to initiate it, but it can take for ever to run it. After a while WikiProjects and Portals can become inactive (and even can get deleted). And last but not least it takes some people and good will to initiate and run it.

    So far for the general introductions? Any questions? Ideas? - Mdd 19:00, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

    There is great deal already on Cybernetics on Wiki click on Category:Cybernetics and at the foot of the article (click article tab) and e.g sub Category:Cyberneticists in that page. Many topics need drawing in as in Bateson's remark about Alfred Wallace "centrifugal governor" drawing in evolution (and any works others may have published on this, of course). Many need better references, more contemporary references and style clean ups plus new articles. BUT if we are to have a cybernetics portal etc we ought to consider an article on Systems from a cybernetic perspective. The emphasis on information flows rather than any old input/output, for example. The recent debate at CYBCOM hints at great riches. So now let's participate. I suggest not too much effort. Contribute only if you really know, use discussion pages for debate. Lists of topics not covered yet, a vision of structure all needed. Your personal page keeps track of your contributions and changes to those pages in your watchlist. Criticism is encouraged within articles and it is needed. Look at Cloud feedback for example. Very important we might be able to help here, or is it just more physical chemistry needed? References are vital and clear short points with examples. Everything is aimed at the general reader but if you get technical make sure there's a simple article to support you. Remember Frank George. At the drop of a hat he would write on the Cybernetics of... or Cybernetics and... Isn't it time for us to emulate that with our modern insights?--Nick Green 00:38, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

    Thanks, you are right. There are lot of article about cybernetics in Wikipedia allready. There are also al lot of existing WikiProjects and Portals. For example:

    Here listed are only the most related WikiProjects and Portals (though they are not all active). At the moment Cybernetics is within the scope of the WikiProject Systems. So the real question, I guess, is, why go through all that trouble? - Mdd 15:05, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

    Why not?[edit]

    I can think of some arguments why ...

    • Cybernetics is a relatively autonomous paradigm in society and science, interesting both from a historical and a contemporary perspective.
    • Quality inprovement and quality control is needed
    • Wikipedia becomes more complex and requirers more skills
    • Articles are presentations, WikiProject organization and a Portal representation.
    • A starting point for communication, innovation and building relations.

    What fascinates me the most is that Wikipedia itselve is becoming the first place for all people, young and old, to get acquinted and to learn about things out of the ordinary. And at the moment there is still a lot to learn about improving this. - Mdd 22:27, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

    A new introduction[edit]

    I created the following new introdution of this article, inspired on the german Wikipedia:

    Cybernetics is the intedisciplinairy study of the structure of complex systems, especially the communication processes, control mechanisme and feedback principles. Cybernetics is close related to control theory and systems theory.

    I do hope other people will help improve this introduction some more. The main reason for eliminating the older intro is that (almost) no article in Wikipedia starts with four or five different definitions. Every article we just have to make a choice, that makes some sence and gives a relatively simple description. - Mdd (talk) 13:41, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

    Since I was a boy (now I am 60), I read about cybernetics and was fascinated with it. Everywhere I read on the subject, I found this: cybernetics studies the functionality of anything, stripped of any material, aesthetic or whatever other characteristics. Of course, the attributes of whatever the object of study interacts with cannot be ignored and should be contemplated if affected by or affecting the object's functionality, and thus a corresponding transduction into or from functional terms should be taken into account. In the case of a closed system, no transduction is necessary. Summing up, how it works is the only important matter, not how it is made or what composes it. As different disciplines and fields use each its own terminology for the same functionalities, a multidisciplinar task was to see beyond terminology and get to the nude marrow of functionality. Feedback devices in systems of natural or artificial sort were found to exist and to share the same or similar functionality. Control mechanisms such as feedback devices are typical subjects of cybernetics, but not the only ones. Information represents whatever physical attributes affect or are affected by the functionality, internally or externally, for convenience. Other abstract representations would do, but information has two properties that make it useful: communication and meaning. Communication can be studied independently of meaning, and this is what N. Wiener did. But meaning can be equally important, and it is what has, in my life-long work on cybernetically studying nervous systems, let me finally understand how they manage to perform their tasks, even including reasoning and social or inter-species communication through verbal or non-verbal means. JML (talk) 06:37, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

    Now I added the following two sentences to get some more general introduction:

    Contemporary cybernetics began as an interdisciplinary study connecting the fields of control systems, electrical network theory, mechanical engineering, logic modeling, evolutionary biology and neuroscience in the 1940s. Other fields of study which have influenced or been influenced by cybernetics include game theory; system theory (a mathematical counterpart to cybernetics); psychology, especially neuropsychology, behavioral psychology,cognitive psychology; philosophy and even architecture.[citation needed]

    I think that these particulair sentences give a good general introduction of cybernetics. - Mdd (talk) 15:48, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

    I disagree I came upon this article by a link with biology. And after reading the intro, the overview and history... I still don't really get it. Cybernetics is the study of underlining structure for a complex system. What does that mean? You can pretty much list any topic and call it a complex system... which is how the introduction and history reads. And the article will list one example of complex system analysis and say "This is cybernetics" but then show another complex system structure and say "This is not an example of cybernetics". I really don't get what cybernetics includes or doesn't include as part of it's analysis or what is a cybernetic way of thinking of a problem versus a non-cybernetic way of thinking about a problem. I don't think the introduction is clear.--Sparkygravity (talk) 11:34, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
    I understand it is not just the general introduction, but the article as a whole, you don't understand. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 14:46, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

    And you don't see that as a problem? I'm not a genius but I'm not an idiot either. I know that if there is something I don't understand that 1)I might need to educate myself, so that I can understand a topic 2)That I am capable of learning and understanding. The purpose of this article is to help facilitate people in educating themselves so that they can understand cybernetics. I have a college education, but I believe articles should be accessible even to high schoolers. Do you believe this article is accessible to the general public? If the introduction is insufficient to acquaint users with the general central idea behind cybernetics, isn't THAT a problem? I want to know what cybernetics is. I want to know what cybernetics means... but I guess I can't learn that on wikipedia. Or can I?--Sparkygravity (talk) 11:26, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

    The article is (just) given a general introduction. It offers you links to a lot more Wikipedia articles on cybernetics, to five online readings on cybernetics, and to a set of external links to learn more about cybernetics. I am not pretending this article explains it all. I don't think any single article can. If you want to learn more .. the trick in general is, to read about a subject by different authors, and to study how the theory is used in practice. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 11:49, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
    k, so I'm still trying to figure this out for myself... and have come to a layman's explanation of what cybernetics is. You'll have to correct me if I'm wrong because I'm obviously getting lost in the verbiage.
    Cybernetics is the study and attempt to define what makes "TOPIC A, B OR C" tick or behave the way it behaves. Cybernetics attempts to determine what makes "TOPIC B" fundamentally "B" versus "C". So it's the study of the fundamental qualities and foundational structure of a topic.
    So a cybernetic study of a robot would attempt to define and explore a robots traits by looking at the electronic and mechanical control systems. But would not attempt to define the robot by it's aesthetic quality or materials. A cybernetic study of an apple would look at it's chemical/biological evolution from bud to fruit, or perhaps it's DNA structure. But would not qualify apples due to environment or breed. Is that correct?--Sparkygravity (talk) 20:59, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
    You are right, that Cybernetics is a specific own approach to reality focussing on communication and control mechanism, beside the traditional specialized scientific approaches. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 22:11, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

    I think that the language in the article is too advanced. A layman (such as myself) would still be in the dark after reading the introduction. I think it needs to be more accessible to newcomers to the field. Totorotroll (talk) 11:48, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

    Bateson is not mentioned???[edit]

    One of those who has done much to develop and popularise cybernetics, within in the social sciences, within evolutionary theory and amongst lay people was Gregory Bateson, yet he is not mentioned at all in the article. Even 'social science' is only mentioned in reference to a seperate article. I see this as a fairly major omission. Brennanyoung (talk) 15:29, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

    Ohhhh, yes. Good call. I strongly agree. Kevin Baastalk 15:40, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

    Images of cyberneticists[edit]

    This discussion is copied here from the User talk:Paulpangaro page.

    Hi, thanks for your edits on the Cybernetics article. However I readded the image you removed, because it is definitely related to the subject. I do agree this relation should be expressed better. If you want to replace it with an other picture, thats fine with me. But for now, I think, it's a good pictures, and there is no rule that only the top of the top should be expressed. If you don't agree you could also respond on the cybernetics talk page. Thanks. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 21:48, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

    Hi Mdd --- i disagree strongly. by your rule, the page could be littered with individuals whose contribution is minimal, which distorts the impression --- and the communication --- that the page provides. do you know stuart? why did you add his picture and not one of a dozen others mentioned on the page, especially those whose contribution to the field is large and undisputed? isn't that more honest to the intention of wikipedia? -paul

    Hi, Paulpangaro. I referted your move here. I don't agree with your assumption: "individuals whose contribution is minimal" and "distorts the impression". Both your assumptions seems to me like POV: personal point of view, which in Wikipedia is not acceptable. It is only your own opinion that Umpleby's contributions are minimal. That is not a fact. And we don't think in terms of "minimal" and act on that. We foremost think in terms of "notable" and "not-notable".

    The rule here is this article should contain images of notable scientist that are related to cybernetics. There is no question about Stuart A. Umpleby is notable and related to cybernetics.

    One more thing. I don't mean the image should stay there for ever. I would even be glad if it is this image would alter with pictures of other temporary scientists in the field. Unfortunately there are not much of those images available on Wikipedia. The only images now available are here on Commons. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 12:46, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

    If Stuart A. Umpleby is so notable, maybe he should be mentioned in the text left to the image? -- (talk) 06:31, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

    Date Issues[edit]

    Phrases such as "the last 30 years" reference a date of writing, but no such date is explicit in the article. Other phrases in the article suggest that the 1980s is the current decade. (talk) 16:40, 10 January 2009 (UTC) Dan Holdgreiwe

    Second Life image[edit]

    Can anyone explain to me why there's Second Life screenshot picture on this page (Image:History_of_Cybernetics_and_Systems_Science.jpg), and why it's considered an acceptable alternative to an actual chart? It seems a bizarre image choice to me. Daduzi talk 19:54, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

    I am not sure yet, wheter I agree or not, but I have removed the image for now. I would be nice to have an actual chart, but we have had one untill recently User:Bcastel3 (Brian Castellani) uploaded the File:Complexity-map-overview.png image. As to the Image:History_of_Cybernetics_and_Systems_Science.jpg I agree the source is questionable. But the image itself is, how I see it, an artist impression of the history of cybernetics. And in a way... all or at least a lot of image's is Wikipedia are artist impressions. We are not allowed to copy original images here, we have to design them ourselves. In time we might be able to construct one ourselves. At least this is my opinion...!? -- Mdd (talk) 20:59, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

    Article is too general[edit]

    No key concepts, like philosophy of design, or principles are mentioned. Someone with comprehensive knowledge of cybernetics needs to distill what makes AI work, even if it is ruthlessly abstract - in English. (talk) 00:05, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

    Article claims too much[edit]

    Looking at the material here, it seems to be written as if Cybernetics is an all encompassing theory of anything with connections. Its a series of overclaims. For example suggesting that complex adaptive systems is a subdivision of cybernetics which it clearly isn't. P'm going to move that for one into a new section, but overall the article needs improvement. --Snowded TALK 19:58, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

    Homeostasis and Claude Bernard[edit]

    No mention of his early concept in the history section, visits to Homeostasis and Claude Bernard, even if shorts, are welcomed.

    See also "The French biologist Claude Bernard introduces the idea of homeostasis as well as attention to the maintenance of constant state(s) in the body. (1855) "

    from American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) Foundations: History: Timeline

    Utopiah (talk) 23:34, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

    Cybernetics is made up[edit]

    I don't think cybernetics exists, it's a conglomerate of some subjects which span across completely unrelated areas and it really isn't treating anything in particular. The article for this should be removed and all references to it because it's really just a prank. I mean just look at what it studies "control systems, electrical network theory, mechanical engineering, logic modeling, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, anthropology, and psychology" , you can't be serious ... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:19, 18 March 2010 (UTC) Couldn't agree more, it is junk pseudo-science occupied by people who talk about legitimate fields of study, but don't actually contribute to or belong in any of them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:42, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

    You both have been mislead by the article and i strongly suggest you and others that may share your opinions to look the matter elsewhere, from a more 'pratical' point of view.

    Cybernetics, or 'the study of self-regulating systems', or even better 'the study of systems', definitely "exists". Most definitely.

    It span across the whole set of human knowledge, obviously. Because, well, the universe is a system of systems. And we happen to like to study their dynamics. Ergo, cybernetics. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:17, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

    Language is made up and that too is useful. Cybernetics doesn't exist and isn't treating anything in particular because you don't understand it. Many concepts span several areas of study, for example logic is used in, mathematics, computing, electronics, psychology and more. In your world only someone who specializes in something can contribute.Jonpatterns (talk) 10:34, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

    Justification for inclusion of John von Neumann[edit]

    I take issue with the inclusion of John von Neumann, especially the notion that cellular automata are an example of a cybernetic system. Thus, I seek others who can demonstrate by means of published citations that von Neumann was a contributor to cybernetic theory. Without such citable publications, this section must be removed from this article. William R. Buckley (talk) 22:23, 19 November 2010 (UTC)

    If you look for John von Neumann and cybernetics in Googlebooks, see for example here, you will find many references. -- Mdd (talk) 23:19, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
    My question would be, is von Neumann considered to be associated with cybernetics, by workers outside cybernetics? I have observed prior to this that cybernetics has a bit of an "expansionist" tendency, that it tends to make claims on work in other fields whether or not workers in those fields think they're doing cybernetics. At one point I had to clean up categories that were (by transitivity) implicitly taking ergodic theory to be part of cybernetics. --Trovatore (talk) 01:33, 21 November 2010 (UTC)
    I think you are right about that by that "expansionist" tendency. On the other hand the workers outside cybernetics don't talk about cybernetics, and that is a thing you see in all sciences. I think that with the paradigm shift in the 1970s in the systems sciences John von Neumann was among the scientists who became a new inspiration. Cyberneticists since then have been refering to his work and that is what we are representing here. -- Mdd (talk) 14:08, 21 November 2010 (UTC)
    Might you give a representative sample of references to cyberneticians who by their writings reference von Neumann, and particularly that work of von Neumann which such authors claim to be applicable to cybernetic theory? William R. Buckley (talk) 06:46, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
    Biologists will agree von Neumann was a physicist; chemists will agree he was a mathematician. I think the problem is that physicists, mathematicians, biologists, chemists may all have questions about whether cybernetics is even a "science", per se, as opposed to more of an ideology. If it's an ideology, then it's questionable to drag in von Neumann without evidence that he agreed with the ideology. --Trovatore (talk) 20:41, 21 November 2010 (UTC)
    Von Neumann held degrees in mathematics and chemical engineering (an area of applied physics). So, he was by training both a mathematician and a physicist. This has nothing to do with cybernetics, though I will admit his musings on (a) the construction of reliable systems from unreliable components, and (b) the comparison of brain and electronic digital computing devices both impinge upon what is properly to be considered cybernetics. Ultimately, the work of Wiener was specifically concerned with the mechanics that is concomitant with analog computation, and so is in direct opposition with the digital computational systems work of von Neumann; they are, in short, polar opposite approaches to problems within engineering, not science. I suggest that inclusion of von Neumann as a researcher within cybernetics is stretching much too far; it is conflation beyond justification. William R. Buckley (talk) 22:34, 21 November 2010 (UTC)

    Cybernetics Science[edit]

    Have noticed that there isn't mentioned definitions in cybernetics affecting the human psyche. One definition of cybernetics is: the science of communications and control in machines (e.g. computers) and living things (e.g. by the nervous system) Oxford Dictionary. The human psyche can be affected in ways technologies are utilized. A person's attention span can be improved, and modern media, films, and television has affected attenuation of human psyche, and how well perceptions are used. Sending information affects atmospheres, travels, and education or training. (talk) 23:47, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

    Cybernetics as Control Theory in drag[edit]

    How can a reader distinguish between cybernetics, system dynamics, and control theory? The first sentence introduction by User:Mdd is a good and well-sourced start. However, the overview previously written by others fails to carry through on this. I imagine that User:Mdd cringed back when he read the Overview, which reads to me like Gamer-Crank Nonsense. The IEEE Transactions on Computers, Man, and Cybernetics provides up-to-date peer-reviewed research in cybernetics. In order to understand the results in that high-impact journal, the reader must know some math. Not surprisingly, that math falls squarely in the realm of control theory. It makes more sense to merge the article on cybernetics into control theory than it would to go through the feckless and entropic exercise of creating a WikiProject:Cybernetics and WikiPortal:Cybernetics. Vonkje (talk) 17:16, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

    Cybernetics originated as more or less a synthesis of nonlinear control theory, statistical physics and information theory. As such it is an extension of and bridges the gap between them and covers topics not covered by any. Furthermore, one or the other would more properly constitute a subset of cybernetics than the other way around. i.e. it would make more sense to merge control theory into cybernetics than vice-versa. (but that would be historically inaccurate because control theory predates cybernetics.) cybernetics is broader, deeper, and more comprehensive. and, as i said before, it deals with things that e.g. control theory simply does not. Kevin Baastalk 21:13, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
    Yah, well, I know all that stuff and do cutting-edge research in it. And I don't give a hoot if it's called one thing or the other, up to the point where pedantic reviewers start being precious about labels. (talk) 08:41, 28 October 2016 (UTC)

    Please add information about Stefan Obobleja to this article. It's only fair that readers be aware that he pioneered the research into cybernetics and developed fundamental theories years before Wiener but his work did not achieve recognition because of the Second World War. I know that the issue has been raised before on the Wiener page, but I'm sure it's not only my belief that giving credit where credit's due is extremely important when elaborating on a subject on a source of information easily accessible to the whole world.

    Category American Invention[edit]


    I have removed the category as it is not an American invention.

    We have Plato, André-Marie Ampère, Alfred Russel Wallace, James Clerk Maxwell, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, and the ratio club, well, many are involved in teleological mechanisms prior to the use of the term. The article even state "Cybernetics as a discipline was firmly established by McCulloch and others, such as W. Ross Ashby and W. Grey Walter." Chaosdruid (talk) 05:25, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

    History of cybernetics during 1960-1980s[edit]

    Peter Cariani, in "On the Importance of Being Emergent"(2010), a review of book on cybernetics, "Emergence and Embodiment", writes "Artificial intelligence was born at a conference at Dartmouth in 1956 that was organized by McCarthy, Minsky, Rochester, and Shannon, three years after the Macy conferences on cybernetics had ended (Boden 2006; McCorduck 1972). The two movements coexisted for roughly a decade, but by the mid-1960s, the proponents of symbolic AI gained control of national funding conduits and ruthlessly defunded cybernetics research. This effectively liquidated the subfields of self-organizing systems, neural networks and adaptive machines, evolutionary programming, biological computation, and bionics for several decades, leaving the workers in management, therapy and the social sciences to carry the torch." Full article available at (talk) 12:04, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

    Hi, thanks for this link. I created a new section under "History" titled "Split from artificial intelligence". A more positively framed title would perhaps be preferable. I put Bateson and Mead's names in there... but there's a lot more work to be done on this section. love, groupuscule (talk) 18:32, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

    PRINCIPLES of cybernetics[edit]

    I think it would be great to have a section (placed either after history or after definitions) on principles (or similar) of cybernetics. This section would be fun to create and would give the reader more of a sense of what the hell this word means.

    One principle might come from this Bateson article titled "Cybernetic Explanation"[1] :

    Causal explanation is usually positive. We say that billiard ball B moved in such and such a direction because billiard ball A hit it at such and such an angle. In contrast to this, cybernetic explanation is always negative. We consider what alternative possibilities could conceivably have occurred and then ask why many of the alternatives were not followed, so that the particular event was one of those few which could, in fact, occur.

    We might also include ideas about holism and social relevance, expressed by Mary Catherine Bateson in 2011[2] :

    Many of you will have read the essay by my father, Gregory Bateson, called “From Versailles to Cybernetics,”*in which he traces much of the madness of the 20th century, still ongoing, to violations of communication. He ends by declaring that there is “…latent within cybernetics the means of achieving a new and perhaps more human outlook, a means of changing our philosophy of control and a means of seeing our own follies in wider perspective.” This hope rests on the potential offered by cybernetics for thinking in terms of whole systems rather than in terms of separate and competing interests and specializations, a potential that must be explored and expressed.
    We are at a time of great danger, when the planetary cycles on which life depends and the long term patterns of climate are being severely disrupted. Meeting this danger and the humanitarian disasters that lie ahead requires a whole new order of cooperation. Yet researchers in the earth systems sciences have limited understanding of social systems, while some politicians deny what is happening, and non-specialists around the world simply do not recognize the larger picture. One day of cool weather leads to comments like, “See, the climate isn’t changing after all.” At the same time, the danger is amplified by an ideology that idealizes competition and accepts deception as a means to winning. Human beings do not always behave well when they believe that their “share of the pie” may be reduced, and modern weapons can turn the habit of zero-sum thinking into a lose-lose outcome for the entire planet.

    See more at this collection of particularly interesting articles on cybernetics.

    Vocabulary of cybernetics would also be a great page to create and develop. (See Web Dictionary of Cybernetics and Systems?)

    Salaam, groupuscule (talk) 10:09, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

    I agree that there are some notable ideas that can be drawn from the literature, but if these are presented as a common set of principles this could easily stray into WP:OR or WP:SYN. RichardVeryard (talk) 08:39, 18 August 2012 (UTC)


    They generally look a lot like this.

    Interesting choices for images reflecting "cybernetics" over at Wikimedia Commons.

    Cybernetics and Human Enhancement[edit]

    User @Kmzurn: added the following to the history of Cybernetics-

    In popular culture Cybernetics seems to be used for any type of Human enhancement. This may be a confusion of the meaning of the word. Which is about the scientific study of communication and control processes in biological, mechanical, and electronic systems. Maybe this material belongs on the Human enhancement article? Finally, Not sure if the Lifeboat Foundation is a reliable source. Jonpatterns (talk) 09:48, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

    To be fair, transhumanity was a major theme in Wiener's 1948 book. I'm not saying that his book should be the lodestone for what is and isn't cybernetics today, but this cluster of ideas was certainly associated with the subject right from the start. (talk) 09:48, 28 October 2016 (UTC)
    Well, an organism with cybernetically designed attachments, hopefully as good as new or better, is a CYBernetic-ORGanism. The six million dollar man was the first notable cyborg in popular culture (the show would have been called "The Cyborg" but the network felt that the word was too little known at the time). Cyborg was shortened to "Borg" in the Star Trek TV show. In the UK we have an academic who stuffs CPUs under his skin and goes around telling impressionable young people he is a dinkum cyborg. You reap what you sow. In other words, it's a sexy word that one and all like to appropriate. And then conversely, "proper" cyberneticists will not mind the spurious association too much if it means their research stands a higher chance of being funded. A fable: a young man used to do fundamental research in neural science, and explain at length at cocktail parties how that did not make him a brain surgeon - until it finally dawned on him that he was boring his interlocutors and spoiling his chances of getting laid... (talk) 08:48, 28 October 2016 (UTC)

    Who is Taylor Kirkland?[edit]

    The "Larry Richards Reader" in reference 6 makes no mention of this person named in the list of definitions. The rest of the list should be reviewed to verify that it matches what's in the linked document. -- ScratchMonkey (talk) 05:46, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

    Thanks for noticing. His quote was also not part of the initial listing added June 15, 2012 (see here), but added Feb. 26, 2013 (see here). Now I cannot find a reliable source mentioning the quote before 2013, and indeed cannot identify Taylor Kirkland, so that quote has been removed. -- Mdd (talk) 11:37, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

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    1. ^ Bateson, Gregory (1967). "Cybernetic Explanation". American Behavioral Scientist. Sage Publications, Inc. 10 (8): 20–32.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); ; republished in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972.
    2. ^ Bateson, Mary Catherine (27 August 2011). "Mary Catherine Bateson's note of thanks (and warning) to the ASC". American Society for Cybernetics. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
    3. ^ Anissimov, Michael. "Top Ten Cybernetic Upgrades Everyone Will Want". Lifeboat Foundation. Retrieved 26 April 2014.