CYBERNETICS Applied Epistemology
Here you have joined me in what I assume to be an interactive session.
Guide to decode “cybernetics”!
Where did the term “cybernetics”come from; what does it mean?
The term “cybernetics” comes from the ancient Greek work “kybernetes” which means ‘steersman’.
Think of a thermostat, as the user sets an ideal temperature, the thermostat senses the actual temperature and compares it with the desired one. If it’s too low, it switches the heater on and if it’s too high, it switches it off. Just as a steerman would do!
Cybernetics is a technical language for describing all intelligent systems and their usage of feedback to score a goal- because all intelligent systems have one!
Christening of the science of articulation.
State-of-the-art cybernetics began as an interdisciplinary study connecting the fields
of neuroscience, mechanical engineering, logic modelling, psychology,etc in the 1940s,often attributed to Macy Conferences.
To get our hands on the first formal definition of cybernetics, we have to travel to 1948 when an American mathematician and philosopher, Norbert Wiener,wrote a book named ‘Cybernetics:Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine’ that was coined to represent this interdisciplinary branch. The date of Wiener’s publication is generally accepted as marking the birth of cybernetics as an independent science.
The birth of cybernetics is considered as The Big Bang of Information Age. The intensity of the explosion was so big that people have had a hard time figuring out what cybernetics is about.
Wiener defined cybernetics as the science of control and communication in the animal and machine. This definition relates cybernetics closely with the theory of automatic control and also with the physiology of the nervous system to be specific.
The science and art of the understanding of understanding.”—Rodney E. Donaldson, the first president of the American Society for Cybernetics.
Science concerned with the study of systems of any nature which are capable of receiving, storing and processing information so as to use it for control.”—A. N. Kolmogorov.
Cybernetics makes sense in all kinds of systems-be it mechanical,biological, physical or social. The primary objective of this field is to understand how all the intelligent systems engage in a causal chain of “sensing-comparing-action-understanding” -fundamental to all intelligent systems. In Fact,intelligence is what keeps us at the tips of our toes.
First order cybernetics is the cybernetics of systems of systems that are observed from the outside as opposed to the cybernetics of systems involving their observers. First order cybernetics is concerned with circular causal processes eg- control, negative feedback, computing,adaptation.
Second-order cybernetics explicitly includes the observer(s) in the systems to be studied. These are generally living systems, ranging from simple cells to human beings, rather than the control systems for inanimate technological devices studied by most first-order cybernetics.
Cybernetics has been influenced by and, in turn, has applications in fields as diverse as psychology and control theory, philosophy and mechanical engineering, architecture and evolutionary biology, or social sciences and electrical engineering.
There is little wonder that philosophers and scientists have different definitions of cybernetics.
Sub-division of “Cybernetics”.
In a broader context, cybernetics is an umbrella term for several system-related scientific studies.
- In psychology.
- Cognitive psychology.
- Embodied cognition.
- Human-robot interaction.
- Mind-body problem.
- In computer science.
- Modal logic.
- Design patterns.
- In law.
As a matter of fact, cybernetics has always been associated with law-governance.
- Meta government.
- Control systems.
- Organizations and super organizations.
- In biology.
The prime focus has been on how organisms adapt to the environment and the information transfer process from generation to generation.
- Medical cybernetics.
- In engineering.
Cybernetics is basically used to detect small errors and deterioration of system that could possibly lead to mammoth disasters.
- Biomedical engineering.
- Engineering cybernetics.
- Adaptive systems.
- In management
- Autonomous agency theory.
- Entrepreneurial cybernetics.
- Management cybernetics.
- Operations research.
- In mathematics.
- Control theory.
- Systems theory.
- Information theory.
The milestones of Brain Computer Interaction.
In the prosthetic applications, Otto Bock Healthcare has come up with C-Leg system to aid those who have lost a leg because of an accident or disease. Loaded with sensors, this system can track a user’s natural gait and function placidly.
One of the notable projects of this decade that challenges the boundaries of human-computer interaction is Kevin Warwick’s work since 2002. He had a cluster of 100 electrodes stationed into his nervous system which was connected to an external electrical terminal. With this,he conducted various experiments ranging from controlling a robotic arm to investigating ultrasonic input to detect distances of objects. Finally, he also implanted similar electrodes into his wife’s nervous system and accomplished to track the first ever electronic communication between the nervous systems of two humans.
Humans have been on a quest to live longer, acquire abilities uniques to us and discover the unknown for the longest time known. You’ve seen Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey extolling the benefits of fasting intermittently or may have heard of someone who’s had a chip implanted in their hand as stated above. This is nothing,but biohacking! Sounds interesting, isn’t it?
Biohacking or as commonly called DIY Biology is a very broad term to explain all of it in this article. It covers a range of activities such as experimenting on yeast or using technology to amplify our resourcefulness.
Dave Asprey, a biohacker who created the supplement company Bulletproof,has stem cells injected into his joints, takes dozens of supplements daily, bathes in infrared light, and much more. It’s all part of his quest to live until at least age 180.
Certain kinds of biohacking go far beyond traditional medicine, while other kinds bleed into it. Some biohacks are backed up with solid scientific grounds and are likely to be beneficial while a lot of them are based on incomplete evidence, could be harmful.
Will biohacking witness the same breakthrough? Maybe in a few years from now but will we be able to accept it as a normal concept?