Concepts / Cybernetics

The field of cybernetics is concerned with regulatory and purposive systems. Core concepts include feedbackvariety, and viability.

Humberto Maturana (1987) described the field as “the science and art of understanding”. Paul Pangaro (2006) frames it in terms of “having a goal and taking action to achieve that goal.”

It is applied in very many disciplines including biology, ecology, technology, cognitive sciences, social sciences, and in designing, engineering, learning, managing, music, and conversation. In fact, its application is potentially so broad that the sociologist Andrew Pickering calls it antidisciplinary.

The word cyborg — describing a life form with both organic and biomechantronic body parts — is a portmanteau of cybernetic and organism. The cyber part is found as the prefix to many neologisms in the digital space, e.g. cybersecuritycyberbullyingcybersecurity. (Cyberspace has different roots.)


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