Academic journal article et Cetera

Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener the Father of Cybernetics

Academic journal article et Cetera

Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener the Father of Cybernetics

Article excerpt

Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman. Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener the Father of Cybernetics. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

I was introduced to Norbert Wiener through Neil Postman's Media Ecology seminars.

A wunderkind, born in 1894, Wiener graduated from Harvard with a Ph.D. at age 18. He was then sent off to England to study under Bertrand Russell, and after that went to Gottingen, Germany, to explore his mathematical notions with some of the most renowned scholars in the field of mathematics. In 1919 Wiener obtained a professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he remained for 45 years.

Wiener's father, Leo, was a scholar of languages and a severe taskmaster to his prodigy son, leaving Wiener with a lifetime of emotional problems. But Wiener overcame his problems enough to be able to delve into questions of certainty in philosophy, once studying with John Dewey, as well as various mathematical and statistical quandaries.

Wiener's life and ideas converged at a critical period in science and electronic technology. He studied Einstein's theories and quantum theory, leading him to his produce a communication theory that he coined, "cybernetics." He attempted to explain that theory in his book "Cybernetics" (1948). (Wiener's most popular book for lay readers was The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (1950). …

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