Cybernetics is a science dealing with the general principles of information control and transfer in machines and living organisms. The founder is thought to be Norbert Wiener, an American mathematician, who published a book in 1948 called Cybernetics: Or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine.
Cybernetics underwent different development in various countries. In the West, it more or less merged with the general systems theory, and a number of disciplines that were regarded as part of cybernetics have been developing as independent fields – e.g. informatics or neural networks.
In the ‘Socialist bloc’ countries, cybernetics was regarded as a ‘bourgeois pseudo-science’, for purely ideological reasons. It only began to be accepted in the mid-1950s. After that, it turned into an umbrella discipline for many fields that had become independent in the free world. Even informatics was considered part of cybernetics.
The key principles of cybernetics
- Feedback: The feedback principle was known earlier in regulation technology and was used in the design of feedback amplifiers for the purposes of communication technology. However, the founders of cybernetics recognized this to be a very general principle. It is a special merit of cybernetics that it became widely known, making possible the explanation of a series of phenomena taking place in various dynamic systems.
- Information: Gradually, an exact theory of information came to existence as a branch of probability theory. Information has enriched our physical image of the world in that it represents as important an entity as matter or energy. Information is probably the major concept brought by cybernetics. Information processing is becoming increasingly important, gradually changing the character of our lives.
- Model: The systematic study of various systems led to the knowledge that systems of various physical essence can display very similar behaviour, and that the behaviour of one system can be studied by means of another, more easily implemented system under completely different time and space conditions. It became obvious that many mechanical hydraulic, pneumatic, etc. systems are formally described by the same differential equations as electrical circuits. This led to the creation of special electrical circuits if analog computers. Very soon, however, these were replaced by symbolic models on digital computers.
Comprehensive Encyclopaedia Diderot in four volumes, OP Publishing House
Cybernetics - a science dealing with the systems of controlling processes in animate and inanimate objects, organisms, machines. The name is derived from the Greek word kybernetes, i.e. helmsman. Cybernetics studies the problem of control systems building and the processes in automatons, computers, living organisms as well as social systems. It creates a unified view of animate and inanimate systems in that it encompasses knowledge of various fields, e.g. biology, physiology, psychiatry, psychology, logics, mathematics, machine data processing, automation and regulation technology, control theory.
Doc. dr. Lumír Klimeš, CSc.: Dictionary of Foreign Words, Státní pedagogické nakladatelství Praha
Cybernetics - a scientific discipline dealing with general principles of information control and transfer in machines and living organisms.
M. Rozental, P. Judin: A Concise Dictionary of Philisophy, SNPL
Cybernetics (from the Ancient Greek word meaning ‘controlling’) – a reactionary pseudo-science which emerged in the USA after the Second World War and spread widely to other capitalist countries; a form of contemporary mechanicism. The adherents of cybernetics define it as a universal science about links and communications in technology, about living organisms and social life, about ‘general organization‘ and control of all processes in nature and society. Thus, cybernetics regards mechanical, biological and social principles and their mutual interconnections and as identical. As every mechanistic theory, cybernetics denies the qualitative specificity of laws of various forms of existence and the development of matter and reduces them to mechanical laws. Cybernetics originated on the basis of modern development of electronics, especially the latest mechanized computing machines, automation and telemechanics. Contrary to the old 17-18th century mechanicism, cybernetics does not study psychophysiological and social phenomena analogically with the simplest mechanisms, but with electronic machines and devices, equating brain work with the work of a computing machine and social life with the system of electrodes and radio communications. In its essence, cybernetic runs against materialistic dialectics, against modern scientific physiology founded by I.P. Pavlov, as well as against the Marxist scientific concept of social life laws. This mechanistic metaphysical pseudo-science gets along magnificently with idealism in philosophy, psychology and sociology.
Cybernetics clearly expresses one of the main features of the bourgeois world-view, its inhumane character and attempt to convert workers into machine parts, into work tools and the instrument of war. At the same time, cybernetics typically displays imperialist utopianism according to which a living thinking human fighting for his interests should be replaced by a machine in both production and war. The instigators of a new world war use cybernetics for their dirty practical interests. Under the veil of propaganda, researchers in imperialist countries are being involved in the preparation of new means of mass extermination of humans – electronic, telemechanic and automatic weapons whose construction and production have turned into a huge branch of the war industry of the capitalist countries. Thus, cybernetics is not only an ideological weapon of imperialist reaction but also a means for implementing their aggressive war plans.
Norbert Wiener: Cybernetics or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine
We have decided to call a whole field of regulation and communication theory, in both machines and living organisms by the name of cybernetics.
Ottův slovník naučný: encyklopedie obecných vědomostí, Díl 24, Praha
Set or system (from Greek and Latin) is a configuration of congenial knowledge towards a scientific whole, whose varied plurality is presented in such an overview and unity that it is possible to see how they are derived from one general principle. Therefore, each multi-part whole concealing a unified ideational basis or general law is called a set. To capture natural law is the work of scientific thought. The art and way of presenting the set of knowledge in concreto is called systematics.