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Cybernetics, Second Edition: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine
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Cybernetics, Second Edition: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine [Format Kindle]

Norbert Wiener
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Présentation de l'éditeur

Acclaimed one of the "seminal books... comparable in ultimate importance
to... Galileo or Malthus or Rousseau or Mill", Cybernetics was judged by
twenty-seven historians, economists, educators, and philosophers to be one of those
books published during the "past four decades," which may have a substantial impact
on public thought and action in the years ahead.

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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Un classique 7 septembre 2009
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Cet ouvrage est un classique. Bien que depuis sa première parution au lendemain de la seconde guerre mondiale, l'informatique, les automatismes et les moyens de communication aient connu un développement considérable, cet ouvrage est indispensable pour comprendre ce qu'il en est aujourd'hui de ces savoirs et techniques qui ont complètement envahi notre vie. Science et philosophie s'entremêlent étroitement et la lecture est particulièrement stimulante pour quiconque souhaite comprendre notre monde. A lire absolument le second ouvrage du même auteur : "The human use of human beings".
Rappelons qu'après la seconde guerre mondiale Norbert Wiener s'est opposé avec beaucoup de vigueur aux risques de guerre et à la militarisation de la science. A travers ces deux ouvrages, on comprend comment la science peut favoriser des valeurs humanistes de partage du savoir au service de la paix et comment en se mettant au service de la guerre elle se trahit.
Gérard Chazal, professeur émérite d'histoire et philosophie des sciences - Université de Bourgogne.
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71 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A fundamental law that is applicable to almost everything 9 avril 2000
Par John in AR - Publié sur
Two books, both written in the late 1940s stand out as contributing much to our understanding of the world around us. One of these is "Cybernetics" by Weiner and the other is "The mathematical theory of communication" by Shannon. Both require some study by contain many sections that are easily readable by anyone which get the main points across in an understandable manner.
Weiner's book discuses the use of feedback on virtually every type of control mechanism known... i.e., those of nature as well as those of man. It is the "basic" stuff that everyone of us uses everyday and every moment of our lives whether we are aware of it or not. Whereas Shannon's book tells us how to communicate information in an error-free (or nearly so) way, Weiner's book explains how that information is used to provide effective control of everything around us. For many decades since I first was introduced to these two works, I have used their principles in most things I do.
I very highly recommend these two books to anyone who considers themselves a "thinking person" and is seeking to understand the world around them. Both easily get 5 stars. They are major works!
21 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Timeless work joins philosophy, computing, and mathematics 16 mai 2006
Par calvinnme - Publié sur
Norbert Wiener was interested in the means by which feedback could be communicated to help correct the problems that develop in an organism. In investigating this matter, Weiner investigates a number of topics that differentiate between mere computation and intelligence and the importance that information plays in both. This is the unifying theme of a book that seems to wander through many topics using philosophy, mathematics, and the theory of computation.

For example, in chapter one of the book, Wiener illustrates the basic difference between man and machine with a discussion of the concept of Newtonian versus Bergsonian time. He states that Newtonian time - that of high level physics phenomena- is reversible. Bergsonian time, the time of living organisms making their way against entropy is not reversible. Thus since Newtonian time is reversible nothing "new" happens, as opposed to the irreversible time of evolution and biology in which there is always something new.

He continues this idea in the chapter "Computing Machines and the Nervous System." In it, he defines the characteristics of computing machinery. He concludes that the brain, being irreversible, is thus an analog of a single run of a machine. Wiener also points out that many problems of human metabolism and reproduction are associated with the inability to receive and organize impulses and make them effective in the outer world. Thus Weiner ultimately concludes that to live effectively is to live with adequate information.

There are also chapters that are almost purely philisophical about the role of information in society. Then there are other chapters that present heavy-duty mathematics on such topics as representing a time series of known statistical parameters as Brownian motion in an attempt to solve communications problems in nonlinear situations. The mathematics in this book is presented with little or no background, so you are going to need other sources to understand what Wiener is trying to convey.

In summary, if you want an interesting read on the science and philosophy of artificial intelligence and the role of the machine this is one of the best out there. It still stands the test of time after nearly sixty years.
25 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Welcome to the Machine 24 janvier 2006
Par Gord Wilson - Publié sur
Why is everything called "cyber" (cyberspace, cyberpunk)? Because of this book from 1948 in which Norbert Wiener, a prof at MIT, coined the phrase "cybernetics," from the Greek word "kybernutos" meaning "governor." If you're tired of viewing your computer as a black box (the input goes in here, the output comes out there, and something mysterious happens inside), or if you wonder if the tech world has any relation to the natural world, check out this unusual book, which is rewarding on many different levels.

Find out why robotics, neural nets and artificial intelligence (AI) predate the PC and even the mainframe computer and are not a new development. Travel back to the days of the giant ENIAC when the computer seemed to be an idea on everyone's mind, simply waiting for advances in technology to make it a reality. But this very readable book goes further, as suggested in Wiener's subtitle: "Control and Communication in the Animal and Machine." Many specialists in various fields initially opposed this book because of Wiener's interdisciplinary approach, which broke down the hard and fast walls between various disciplines.

The vocabulary of this book has now become commonplace (we ask for "feedback" and refer to "systems" on a daily basis), but many of its ideas have yet to be discovered. I couldn't keep up with the math, but you don't need to to grasp the basic ideas or to enjoy Wiener's lucid and luminous style, which ranks among the best of popular science writing. Wiener also wrote a general market book, "The Human Use of Human Beings" to present some of these ideas to a wider audience. Some fifty years after its initial publication, this book still forms an inviting welcome to the machine.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Well written but extensive math knowledge required 2 janvier 2011
Par Digital4Life - Publié sur
This book was "meant to be an introductory text to the field of Cybernetics" according to the author. In my opinion, it is targeted to the educated lay reader. A Bachelor of Science is required to absorb 100% of the reading material. Having a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, I am forced to skip all the mathematical equations(which sometimes goes on for pages on end). The author, Norbert Wiener, has a knack for explaining the wonders of physics, time, and quantum mechanics in verbose. I'm sure his mathematical proofs on time series are brilliant, if I only understood advanced math. I'm not going to hold my lack of knowledge against the guy, but I can only give it four stars for being unable to absorb the entirety of the book. I feel that if a book is dense in mathematics, there should be some kind of forewarning to the reader, which is why I knocked off a star. Still recommend it to that B.S graduate though!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Tour de Force at so many levels. 19 septembre 2011
Par kalm77 - Publié sur
Norbert Wiener, by his own admission, was a big fan of what today might be called "interdisciplinary studies", or "the no-man's land between established fields" as he describes it. In the process of describing his past accomplishments as a sort of cross-pollinator/evangelizer of cybernetics, he makes the case for a broad educational background, as a useful alternative to the darwinian academic trend of earning a living from increasing specialization.

Despite being an extremely sharp mathematician, and openly pooh-poohing the use of emipiricism and the application of maths to the social sciences, he nonetheless understood and even cared about the immense social impact of the technology ("technique" as he calls it), being developed by him and colleagues on the lay man of the future. He refers to the inevitable devaluation of future human beings, being forced to compete against computers, just as physical labor can not compete against automation ("...there is no rate of pay at which a US pick and shovel laborer can live which is low enough to profitably compete with a steam shovel as an excavator" serious aside: what does this say about the entire monetarist efforts of "the Fed" in tackling unemployment today! futility?).

Ironically, for a mathematician so deeply involved in the exposition of the advanced applications of the math of group theory, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, to signal processing and control, his broad economic and societal comments (about the role of God, the undeniable technological impulse/drive of Man throughout history, Labor Unions, Capitalist "Hucksters" etc) are the most prescient and catchy part of his work! (maybe because I am not a mathematician myself).

But, these social themes are NOT what Cybernetics (2nd ed) is all about. Norbert has written many many other books solely musing over these social themes very profoundly! In Cybernetics, the preface and first chapter represent the full extent of his thoughts on this area, which he alludes to again in the second half of the book.

Cybernetics, is an eclectic work with several themes or threads. The eclecticism derives from his pure genius to see common patterns emanating from what one could call the study of "Signals and Systems" applied to biological evolution, development of instinct, learning, all the way to the more commonly explored information theory, computing machines, and feedback theory. Another significant overall theme is of the utility of modern statistical approaches in the study and analysis of non linear systems, to time's arrow, thermodynamics, and evolution itself. He certainly grounds all his observations (with many amazing nuggets to be picked up by an alert reader, along the way) by alluding to rigorous if not totally un-refutable mathematics.

The second chapter is the 'K2' summit of the maths to be encountered in the book (good luck). This chapter touches on topics which can be considered a good chunk of what qualifies today as standard rigorous graduate level course work in the field of signal processing in electrical engineering; for example, how fourier series are almost a second nature outcome of group theory and invariant transformations; how the ergodic theorems apply to Gibbs' statistical mechanics and indeed make noise filtering possible in communications. The next chapter goes into the development of theory of feedback and control. Then, in the rest of the book he leaves signal processing and he segues on to computation, artificial intelligence, gestalt and perception, and self replicating machines! One of the famous (infamous?) memes from this book is that "reality" is actually "computed" by humans, not observed or sensed.

Strangely, the blurbs/endorsements on the back cover of the second edition showcase reviews by a very diverse (to say the least) set of mass market publications (eg. NY Times, Electronics Magazine, Saturday Review of Literature), as if this book were a fun sunday afternoon's read: "lucid, readable by the layman as the trained scientist". Yeah. I highly doubt any of the reviewers mentioned in the blurbs really read the book (much less the even more mathematical first edition). It may be a fun read for the "layman" if the layman happened to be employed as a post-doctoral research fellow in signals and communications labs, certainly. But for the rest, may i humbly recommend a prerequisite of an undergraduate engineering degree to get the perspective and thrust of ideas Wiener wants so much to impart.

If you have an engineering degree somewhere, it can be a very profitable read. The only bones I have to pick are that this is an amazingly top-down book in 200 pages. Wiener tackles his subjects on from such a high conceptual level, that he can not go into the more pedestrian level which is also an extremely interesting discussion of the many themes he touches. (But then I feel no book should be more than 200 pages in today's time!) How can you drink from a fire hose? Verry carefully! But the fire hose has it's purpose too!

It is also important to read this book in the context that this author represents the culmination of the knowledge of computer theory at the very point of the introduction of computers into broader society. Prior to this, they were mathematical department curiosities. Certainly WW2 played a part. Then there is a strange leap to the "Whole Earth Catalog" level. So from a historical perspective and to understand historical milieu it is also a significant work.
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