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The Cybernetic Brain

Author: Andrew Pickering
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226667928
Size: 53.56 MB
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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.

The Cybernetic Brain

Author: Andrew Pickering
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226667898
Size: 12.41 MB
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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.

The Freudian Robot

Author: Lydia H. Liu
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226486842
Size: 50.27 MB
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The identity and role of writing has evolved in the age of digital media. But how did writing itself make digital media possible in the first place? Lydia H. Liu offers here the first rigorous study of the political history of digital writing and its fateful entanglement with the Freudian unconscious. Liu’s innovative analysis brings the work of theorists and writers back into conversation with one another to document significant meetings of minds and disciplines. She shows how the earlier avant-garde literary experiments with alphabetical writing and the word-association games of psychoanalysis contributed to the mathematical making of digital media. Such intellectual convergence, she argues, completed the transformation of alphabetical writing into the postphonetic, ideographic system of digital media, which not only altered the threshold of sense and nonsense in communication processes but also compelled a new understanding of human-machine interplay at the level of the unconscious. Ranging across information theory, cybernetics, modernism, literary theory, neurotic machines, and psychoanalysis, The Freudian Robot rewrites the history of digital media and the literary theory of the twentieth century.

Cybernetic Revolutionaries

Author: Eden Medina
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262525968
Size: 20.62 MB
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A historical study of Chile's twin experiments with cybernetics and socialism, and what they tell us about the relationship of technology and politics.

Constructing Quarks

Author: Andrew Pickering
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226667997
Size: 73.58 MB
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Widely regarded as a classic in its field, Constructing Quarks recounts the history of the post-war conceptual development of elementary-particle physics. Inviting a reappraisal of the status of scientific knowledge, Andrew Pickering suggests that scientists are not mere passive observers and reporters of nature. Rather they are social beings as well as active constructors of natural phenomena who engage in both experimental and theoretical practice. "A prodigious piece of scholarship that I can heartily recommend."—Michael Riordan, New Scientist "An admirable history. . . . Detailed and so accurate."—Hugh N. Pendleton, Physics Today

From Counterculture To Cyberculture

Author: Fred Turner
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226817431
Size: 20.66 MB
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In the early 1960s, computers haunted the American popular imagination. Bleak tools of the cold war, they embodied the rigid organization and mechanical conformity that made the military-industrial complex possible. But by the 1990s—and the dawn of the Internet—computers started to represent a very different kind of world: a collaborative and digital utopia modeled on the communal ideals of the hippies who so vehemently rebelled against the cold war establishment in the first place. From Counterculture to Cyberculture is the first book to explore this extraordinary and ironic transformation. Fred Turner here traces the previously untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bay–area entrepreneurs: Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth network. Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the National Book Award–winning Whole Earth Catalog, the computer conferencing system known as WELL, and, ultimately, the launch of the wildly successful Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers. Shedding new light on how our networked culture came to be, this fascinating book reminds us that the distance between the Grateful Dead and Google, between Ken Kesey and the computer itself, is not as great as we might think.

Rise Of The Machines A Cybernetic History

Author: Thomas Rid
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393286010
Size: 66.28 MB
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"Dazzling.” —Financial Times As lives offline and online merge even more, it is easy to forget how we got here. Rise of the Machines reclaims the spectacular story of cybernetics, one of the twentieth century’s pivotal ideas. Springing from the mind of mathematician Norbert Wiener amid the devastation of World War II, the cybernetic vision underpinned a host of seductive myths about the future of machines. Cybernetics triggered blissful cults and military gizmos, the Whole Earth Catalog and the air force’s foray into virtual space, as well as crypto-anarchists fighting for internet freedom. In Rise of the Machines, Thomas Rid draws on unpublished sources—including interviews with hippies, anarchists, sleuths, and spies—to offer an unparalleled perspective into our anxious embrace of technology.

The Cybernetics Moment

Author: Ronald R. Kline
Publisher: JHU Press
ISBN: 1421416719
Size: 69.61 MB
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Cybernetics—the science of communication and control as it applies to machines and to humans—originates from efforts during World War II to build automatic anti-aircraft systems. Following the war, this science extended beyond military needs to examine all systems that rely on information and feedback, from the level of the cell to that of society. In The Cybernetics Moment, Ronald R. Kline, a senior historian of technology, examines the intellectual and cultural history of cybernetics and information theory, whose language of "information," "feedback," and "control" transformed the idiom of the sciences, hastened the development of information technologies, and laid the conceptual foundation for what we now call the Information Age. Kline argues that, for about twenty years after 1950, the growth of cybernetics and information theory and ever-more-powerful computers produced a utopian information narrative—an enthusiasm for information science that influenced natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, humanists, policymakers, public intellectuals, and journalists, all of whom struggled to come to grips with new relationships between humans and intelligent machines. Kline traces the relationship between the invention of computers and communication systems and the rise, decline, and transformation of cybernetics by analyzing the lives and work of such notables as Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, Warren McCulloch, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and Herbert Simon. Ultimately, he reveals the crucial role played by the cybernetics moment—when cybernetics and information theory were seen as universal sciences—in setting the stage for our current preoccupation with information technologies.

Rebel Genius

Author: Tara Abraham
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 026203509X
Size: 71.46 MB
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The life and work of a scientist who spent his career crossing disciplinary boundaries -- from experimental neurology to psychiatry to cybernetics to engineering.

Void Star

Author: Zachary Mason
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374709823
Size: 76.23 MB
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A riveting, beautifully written, fugue-like novel of AIs, memory, violence, and mortality Not far in the future the seas have risen and the central latitudes are emptying, but it’s still a good time to be rich in San Francisco, where weapons drones patrol the skies to keep out the multitudinous poor. Irina isn’t rich, not quite, but she does have an artificial memory that gives her perfect recall and lets her act as a medium between her various employers and their AIs, which are complex to the point of opacity. It’s a good gig, paying enough for the annual visits to the Mayo Clinic that keep her from aging. Kern has no such access; he’s one of the many refugees in the sprawling drone-built favelas on the city’s periphery, where he lives like a monk, training relentlessly in martial arts, scraping by as a thief and an enforcer. Thales is from a different world entirely—the mathematically inclined scion of a Brazilian political clan, he’s fled to L.A. after the attack that left him crippled and his father dead. A ragged stranger accosts Thales and demands to know how much he can remember. Kern flees for his life after robbing the wrong mark. Irina finds a secret in the reflection of a laptop’s screen in her employer’s eyeglasses. None are safe as they’re pushed together by subtle forces that stay just out of sight. Vivid, tumultuous, and propulsive, Void Star is Zachary Mason’s mind-bending follow-up to his bestselling debut, The Lost Books of the Odyssey.