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A quote from Margaret Mead’s 1967 ‘Cybernetics of Cybernetics’

Written By: Site Administrator on August 2, 2010 One Comment
Proceedings of the first ASC conference and the C:ADM2010 booklet

Proceedings of the first ASC conference and the C:ADM2010 booklet

Here is a paragraph Margaret Mead contributed to the First ASC conference in 1967. It shows the importance, the interrelatedness and also the persistence and the ongoing challenge of the two themes we are addressing at this conference:

“I specifically want to consider the significance of the set of cross-disciplinary ideas which we first called “feedback” and then called “teleological mechanisms”, and then called “cybernetics” – a form of cross-disciplinary thought which made it possible for members of many disciplines to communicate with each other easily in a language which all could understand. This was an important motive for those of us who worked in those first conferences at the end of the 1940s. We were impressed by the potential usefulness of a language sufficiently sophisticated to be used to solve complex human problems, and sufficiently abstract to make it possible to cross disciplinary boundaries. We thought we would go on to real interdisciplinary research, using this language as a medium. Instead, the whole thing fragmented.”

Margaret Mead: Cybernetics of Cybernetics. In Heinz von Foerster et al. (ed.) 1968: Purposive Systems. Proceedings of the First Annual Symposium of the American Society for Cybernetics. Spartan Books, New York and Washington, p. 2

Margaret Mead’s Cybernetics of Cybernetics paper is the basis of the ASC’s upcoming Cybernetics of Cybernetics Competition.

One Response to “A quote from Margaret Mead’s 1967 ‘Cybernetics of Cybernetics’”

  1. Judy Lombardi says on: 7 August 2010 at 7:04 am

    CYBERNETICS is a young discipline which, like applied mathematics,
    cuts across the entrenched departments of natural science: the sky, the
    earth, the animals and the plants. Its interdisciplinary character emerges
    when it considers economy not as an economist, biology not as a
    biologist, engines not as an engineer. In each case its theme remains the
    same, namely how systems regulate themselves, reproduce themselves,
    evolve and learn. (Gordon Pask, 1974, p.18)

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