Psycho-Cybernetics

It is always interesting to see, what we “forgot” during history. One of the these things is, without a doubt, Cybernetics (which in turn is a child of the 2nd world war) and maybe even the origin of computers (see von Neumann architecture), which is closely coupled to that.

While passing by a second-hand bookstore in Evanston, IL I saw the book Psycho-Cybernetics in the window, which was published in 1960, 12 years after Cybernetics was published by Norbert Wiener. Apparently Cybernetics was a popular and well-known term at that time.

The flight back to Germany will give opportunity to read through this book, but the preface already looks promising:

Our present state of self-confidence and poise is the result of what we have “experienced” rather than what we have learned intellectually. […] Actual, real-life experience can be a hard and ruthless teacher.

Some might say this is common sense, but many people don’t act like that and IMO our schools still don’t focus enough on creative experiencing but rather try to go the intellectual way of learning everything out of a book.

Just as a side note: As an outcome of the cold war, the Cybernetics hype was replaced by the Artificial Intelligence hype. At least this was mentioned in the Wikipedia article about AI, which is more than I expected:

In the 1940s and 1950s, a number of researchers explored the connection between neurologyinformation theory, and cybernetics. Some of them built machines that used electronic networks to exhibit rudimentary intelligence, such as W. Grey Walter‘s turtles and the Johns Hopkins Beast. Many of these researchers gathered for meetings of the Teleological Society at Princeton University and theRatio Club in England.[21] By 1960, this approach was largely abandoned, although elements of it would be revived in the 1980s. (Wikipedia)

What they don’t write is that it was abandoned for political and financial rather than scientific reasons.

The von Neumann architecture could be replaced by new massive-parallel architectures built around the memristor, see one of my last posts and then, maybe we can finally transfer our minds into a computer ;)

Anyhow, I just think it’s sad how much knowledge and context gets lost over time, despite the fact that we’re living in a knowledge-society and the Internet enabled us to get all the information we want. But people are (of course) interested in hypes and books written decades ago don’t seem to be relevant anymore.