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Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine #
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Part I original edition #

Introduction #

It is these boundary regions of science which offer the richest opportunities to the qualified investigator. They are at the same time the msot refractory to the accepted techniques of mass attack and the division of labor. If the difficulty of a physiological problem is mathematical in essence, ten physiologists ignorant of mathematics will get precisely as far as one physiologist ignorant of mathematics, and nor further. If a physiologist who knows no mathematics works together with a mathematician who knows no physiology, the one will be unable to state his problme in terms that the other can manipulate, and the second will be unable to put the answers in any form that the first can understand. Dr. Rosenblueth has always insisted that a proper exploration of these blank spaces on the map of science could only be made by a team of scientists, each a specialist in his own field but each possessing a thoroughly sound and trained acquantance with the fields of his neighbors; all in the habit of working together, of knowing one another's intellectual customs, and of recognizing the significance of a colleague's new suggestion before it has taken on a full formal expression. The mathematician need not have the skill to conduct a physiological experiment, but he must have the skill to understand one, to criticize one, and to suggest one. The physiologist need not be able to prove a certain mathematical theorem, but he must be able to grasp its physiological significance and to tell the mathematician for what he should look.

We have decided to call the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the machine or in the animal, by the name Cybertnetics, which we form from the Greek κυβερνήτης or steersman. In choosing his term, we wish to recognize that the first significant paper on feedback mechanisms is an article on governors, which was published by Clerk Maxwell in 1868, and that governor is derived from a Latin corruption of κυβερνήτης. We also wish to refer to the fact that the steering engines of a ship are indeed one of the earliest and best-developed forms of feedback mechanisms.

Newtonian and Bergsonian Time #

... in that it puts side by side two sciences which have the one similarity of dealing with the heavens above us, but which in almost every other respect offer an extreme contrast. Astronomy is the oldest of the sciences, while meteorology is among the youngest to begin to deserve the name. The more familiar astronomical phenomena can be predicted for many centuries, while a precise prediction of tomorrow's weather is generally not easy and in many places very crude indeed.

Suggested Pages #

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