Norbert Wiener

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pages: 509 words: 132,327

Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History by Thomas Rid

1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alistair Cooke, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, business intelligence, Charles Lindbergh, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, connected car, domain-specific language, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, dumpster diving, Extropian, full employment, game design, global village, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kubernetes, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mondo 2000, Mother of all demos, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telepresence, The Hackers Conference, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, Zimmermann PGP

Kline, The Cybernetics Moment (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015), 91–93. 4.Hubbard, Dianetics, 23. 5.William Schlecht to Norbert Wiener, June 29, 1950, Norbert Wiener Papers, MC 22, box 8 (“Correspondence 1950”), folder 121, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 6.Norbert Wiener to William Schlecht, July 8, 1950, Norbert Wiener Papers, MC 22, box 8 (“Correspondence 1950”), folder 121, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 7.Norbert Wiener to Frederick Schuman, August 14, 1950, Norbert Wiener Papers, MC 22, box 8 (“Correspondence 1950”), folder 122, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 8.Norbert Wiener to L.

Kline, The Cybernetics Moment (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015), 91–93. 4.Hubbard, Dianetics, 23. 5.William Schlecht to Norbert Wiener, June 29, 1950, Norbert Wiener Papers, MC 22, box 8 (“Correspondence 1950”), folder 121, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 6.Norbert Wiener to William Schlecht, July 8, 1950, Norbert Wiener Papers, MC 22, box 8 (“Correspondence 1950”), folder 121, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 7.Norbert Wiener to Frederick Schuman, August 14, 1950, Norbert Wiener Papers, MC 22, box 8 (“Correspondence 1950”), folder 122, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 8.Norbert Wiener to L. Ron Hubbard, July 8, 1950, Norbert Wiener Papers, MC 22, box 8 (“Correspondence 1950”), folder 121, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 9.L. Ron Hubbard to Norbert Wiener, July 26, 1950, Norbert Wiener Papers, MC 22, box 8 (“Correspondence 1950”), folder 121, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 10.L. Ron Hubbard to Claude Shannon, December 6, 1949, Claude Elwood Shannon Papers, box 1, MSS84831, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. 11.Norbert Wiener to William Schlecht, July 8, 1950. 12.Norbert Wiener, “Some Maxims for Biologists and Psychologists,” Dialectica 4, no. 3 (September 15, 1950): 190. 13.Ibid., 191. 14.Ibid. 15.William Grey Walter, The Living Brain (London: Duckworth, 1953), 223. 16.Ibid. 17.Maxwell Maltz, Psycho-Cybernetics (New York: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, 1969), cover. 18.The figure of thirty million is provided by the book’s publisher.

Conway and Siegelman’s book quotes from several interviews with Bigelow, but it seems to be unreliable on some of the technical details. 44.Masani, Norbert Wiener, 188. 45.Quoted in Conway and Siegelman, Dark Hero, 114. 46.Wiener, cited in Galison, “Ontology of the Enemy,” 236. 47.Masani, Norbert Wiener, 188. 48.Notebook entry from Stibitz, quoted in Galison, “Ontology of the Enemy,” 243. 49.Ibid., 243. 50.Quoted in Mindell, Between Human and Machine, 281. 51.Quoted in Galison, “Ontology of the Enemy,” 242. 52.Quoted in Mindell, Between Human and Machine, 281. 53.Ibid. 54.Quoted in Galison, “Ontology of the Enemy,” 245. The full source is Norbert Wiener to Warren Weaver, January 28, 1943, Norbert Wiener Papers, collection MC-22, box 2, folder 64, Institute Archives and Special Collections, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA. 55.Wiener, Cybernetics, 15. 56.From Sperry company history, probably 1942, quoted in Mindell, Between Human and Machine, 69. 57.Ibid. 58.Preston R.


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From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism by Fred Turner

1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, Bill Atkinson, bioinformatics, Biosphere 2, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, game design, George Gilder, global village, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Conference 1984, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, Herbert Marcuse, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mondo 2000, Mother of all demos, new economy, Norbert Wiener, peer-to-peer, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Richard Stallman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Hackers Conference, the strength of weak ties, theory of mind, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yom Kippur War

Yet, alongside his teaching and his work on poetry, McLuhan developed a fascination with technology and its role in psychological and cultural change. Most critics trace this interest to his reading of the Canadian economic historian Harold Innis.21 But McLuhan also drew extensively on the work of Norbert Wiener. As McLuhan’s first PhD student, Donald Theall, has pointed out, McLuhan encountered Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics in the summer of 1950. According to Theall, who was studying with McLuhan at the time, McLuhan rejected the mathematical theory of communication that Wiener laid out in Cybernetics but was deeply S t e w a r t B ran d M e e t s t h e C y b e r n e t i c C o u n t e r c u l t u r e [ 53 ] influenced by the vision of the social role of communication outlined in Wiener’s 1950 volume The Human Use of Human Beings.22 McLuhan began reading the work of other cyberneticians, and in 1951 he took up Jürgen Ruesch and Gregory Bateson’s Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry.

In 1928, for instance, John Von Neumann published his “Theory of Parlor Games,” thus inventing game theory. Heims, John Von Neumann and Norbert Wiener, 84. In the 1930s in England, Robert Lilienfeld has argued, the invention of radar led to the need for the coordination of machines and thus the invention of the “total point of view” characteristic of systems thinking. Lilienfeld, Rise of Systems Theory, 103. Cybernetics emerged as a self-consciously comprehensive field of thought, however, with the work of Norbert Wiener. For a fuller account of Wiener’s career and the emergence of his cybernetics, see also Galison, “Ontology of the Enemy”; and Hayles, How We Became Posthuman. 29.

For this wing of the counterculture, the technological and intellectual output of American research culture held enormous appeal. Although they rejected the military-industrial complex as a whole, as well as the political process that brought it into being, hippies from Manhattan to HaightAshbury read Norbert Wiener, Buckminster Fuller, and Marshall McLuhan. Introduction [ 5 ] Through their writings, young Americans encountered a cybernetic vision of the world, one in which material reality could be imagined as an information system. To a generation that had grown up in a world beset by massive armies and by the threat of nuclear holocaust, the cybernetic notion of the globe as a single, interlinked pattern of information was deeply comforting: in the invisible play of information, many thought they could see the possibility of global harmony.


pages: 518 words: 107,836

How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (Information Policy) by Benjamin Peters

Albert Einstein, American ideology, Andrei Shleifer, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Brownian motion, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, disinformation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Davies, double helix, Drosophila, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, hive mind, index card, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear programming, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, scientific mainstream, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, surveillance capitalism, technoutopianism, the strength of weak ties, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, transaction costs, Turing machine, Yochai Benkler

., Prefiguring Cyberculture: An Intellectual History (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002).A few biographical works include Steve J. Heims, The Cybernetics Group (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991); Steve J. Heims, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1982); Pesi R. Masani, Norbert Wiener, 1894–1964 (Boston: Birkhäuser Verlag, 1990); Flow Conway and Jim Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics (New York: Basic Books, 2005); and Hunter Crowther-Heyck, Herbert A. Simon: The Bounds of Reason in Modern America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005).A few key theorizations and historical treatments include N.

Pospelov and Fet, Ocherki istorii informatiki v Rossii. 123. Conway and Siegelman, Dark Hero, 316. 124. Norbert Wiener, “Obschestvo i nauka,” Voprosi Filosofiii 7 (1961): 49–52. 125. Dirk Jan Struik, “Norbert Wiener: Colleague and Friend,” American Dialog 3 (1) (1966): 34–37. 126. Bonnie Honig, Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003). 127. On the one hundred twentieth anniversary of his birth and the fiftieth anniversary of his death, the IEEE held a medium-sized conference in Boston on June 24–26, 2014, titled Norbert Wiener in the Twenty-first Century, including a gathering of biographers, former students of his, and rising scholars interested in his life and work. 128.

See also Pierce, “The Early Days of Information Theory”; Norbert Wiener, “What Is Information Theory?,” IRE Transactions on Information Theory 48 (1956): 48; Ronald R. Kline, “What Is Information Theory a Theory Of? Boundary Work among Scientists in the United States and Britain during the Cold War,” in The History and Heritage of Scientific and Technical Information Systems: Proceedings of the 2002 Conference, Chemical Heritage Foundation, ed. W. Boyd Rayward and Mary Ellen Bowden, 15–28 (Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2004). 23. Arturo Rosenblueth, Norbert Wiener, and Julian Bigelow, “Behavior, Purpose, and Teleology,” Philosophy of Science 10 (1943): 18–24. 24.


pages: 339 words: 94,769

Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI by John Brockman

AI winter, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, Buckminster Fuller, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, David Graeber, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, finite state, friendly AI, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, income inequality, industrial robot, information retrieval, invention of writing, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Laplace demon, Loebner Prize, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, Picturephone, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, salary depends on his not understanding it, self-driving car, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telemarketer, telerobotics, The future is already here, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, you are the product, zero-sum game

The Old Testament prophets, who delivered the underlying logic, included Thomas Hobbes and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. The New Testament prophets included Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Claude Shannon, and Norbert Wiener. They delivered the machines. Alan Turing wondered what it would take for machines to become intelligent. John von Neumann wondered what it would take for machines to self-reproduce. Claude Shannon wondered what it would take for machines to communicate reliably, no matter how much noise intervened. Norbert Wiener wondered how long it would take for machines to assume control. Wiener’s warnings about control systems beyond human control appeared in 1949, just as the first generation of stored-program electronic digital computers were introduced.

Whether we entrust our decisions to machines of metal, or to those machines of flesh and blood which are bureaus and vast laboratories and armies and corporations, we shall never receive the right answers to our questions unless we ask the right questions. . . . The hour is very late, and the choice of good and evil knocks at our door. —NORBERT WIENER, The Human Use of Human Beings Norbert Wiener was ahead of his time in recognizing the potential danger of emergent intelligent machines. I believe he was even further ahead in recognizing that the first artificial intelligences had already begun to emerge. He was correct in identifying the corporations and bureaus that he called “machines of flesh and blood” as the first intelligent machines.

Called the Possible Minds Project, this conversation began in earnest in September 2016, in a meeting at the Grace Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Connecticut, with some of the book’s contributors. What quickly emerged from that first meeting is that the excitement and fear in the wider culture surrounding AI now has an analog in the way Norbert Wiener’s ideas regarding “cybernetics” worked their way through the culture, particularly in the 1960s, as artists began to incorporate thinking about new technologies into their work. I witnessed the impact of those ideas at close hand; indeed, it’s not too much to say they set me off on my life’s path.


pages: 759 words: 166,687

Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing Before Cybernetics by David A. Mindell

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Charles Lindbergh, Claude Shannon: information theory, Computer Numeric Control, discrete time, Frederick Winslow Taylor, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, Paul Samuelson, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, telerobotics, Turing machine

Dana had been a student of Professor Tom Sheridan, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who elaborated the idea of telerobotics , according to which machines do not replace human operators but rather enhance their powers and allow them to work in remote or dangerous environments. In 1991 I came to MIT as a graduate student to work with Leo Marx and Merritt Roe Smith in the history of technology. In a first-year course taught by Sherry Turkle, I began studying Norbert Wiener’s book Cybernetics , where he mentions the problem that led him to think about human-machine interfaces: how to shoot down an attacking aircraft by predicting its future position and firing a shell to arrive at that point at some time in the future. Yet nowhere could I find any published discussions of the technologies designed to do this or of the people who had asked Wiener to look at the problem.

In the era of cyberspace, global networks, and what William Gibson called “jacking in,” the line between technology and human identity continues to shift and erode. 10 How did this association between human-machine interaction, on one hand, and technologies of representation, on the other, come about ? Cybernetic Synthesis The question seems to have a simple answer. In 1948 Norbert Wiener published Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine . There he argued that “the problems of control engineering and of communications engineering were inseparable,” 11 that they were united by the fundamental notion of the message, and that feedback loops, both within machines and between machines and people, must be understood in such terms.

Licklider and his disciples recognized that we live in constant interaction and exchange with machines, and that the boundaries between human and mechanical continue to blur and evolve as the online world takes on an order and a reality of its own. As Donna Haraway pointed out, we are all cyborgs, shifting combinations of organism and machine. 13 Norbert Wiener, then, seems the obvious link between Mumford’s neotechnic machine world and the cybernetic decades after World War II. Wiener himself would have us believe that he effected the genesis obviously and completely in the course of his wartime research on antiaircraft prediction. “I think that I can claim credit,” he wrote in his memoir, “for transferring the whole theory of the servomechanism bodily to communication engineering” (although he never explained what he meant by “bodily”). 14 Indeed, scientists, engineers, and the interested public associate Wiener and cybernetics with the image of a human being dynamically coupled to a machine and the notion of the message as the fundamental unit of a system, be it natural or human-made.


Turing's Cathedral by George Dyson

1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, Brownian motion, cellular automata, cloud computing, computer age, Danny Hillis, dark matter, double helix, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, IFF: identification friend or foe, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, SETI@home, social graph, speech recognition, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture

Ibid. 4. Julian Bigelow, interview with Walter Hellman, June 10, 1979, in Walter Daniel Hellman, “Norbert Wiener and the Growth of Negative Feedback in Scientific Explanation,” PhD thesis, Oregon State University, December 16, 1981, p. 148. 5. Norbert Wiener, Ex-Prodigy, pp. 268–69; Julian Bigelow to John von Neumann, November 26, 1946, VNLC. 6. Norbert Wiener to Vannevar Bush, September 21, 1940, in Pesi R. Masani, ed., Norbert Wiener, Collected Works, vol. 4 (Boston: MIT Press, 1985), p. 124. 7. Norbert Wiener, “Principles Governing the Construction of Prediction and Compensating Apparatus,” submitted with S.

Norbert Wiener, “Principles Governing the Construction of Prediction and Compensating Apparatus,” submitted with S. H. Caldwell, Proposal to Section D2, NDRC, November 22, 1940, in Pesi R. Masani, Norbert Wiener: 1894–1964 (Basel: Birkhauser, 1990), p. 182. 8. Norbert Wiener and Julian H. Bigelow, “Report on D.I.C. Project #5980: Anti-Aircraft Directors: Analysis of the Flight Path Prediction Problem, including a Fundamental Design Formulation and Theory of the Linear Instrument,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, February 24, 1941, pp. 38–39, JHB. 9. Norbert Wiener, “Extrapolation, Interpolation, and Smoothing of Stationary Time Series, with Engineering Applications,” classified report to the National Defense Research Committee, February 1, 1942, declassified edition (Boston: MIT Press, 1949), p. 2. 10.

Julian Bigelow to Warren Weaver, December 2, 1941, JHB. 15. Ibid. 16. Ibid. 17. Julian Bigelow, interview with Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman. 18. Ibid. 19. Norbert Wiener, I Am a Mathematician, p. 249. 20. George Stibitz, “Diary of Chairman, July 1, 1942,” in Peter Galison, “The Ontology of the Enemy: Norbert Wiener and the Cybernetic Vision,” Critical Inquiry 21, no. 1 (Autumn 1994): 243. 21. Julian Bigelow, Arturo Rosenblueth, and Norbert Wiener, “Behavior, Purpose and Teleology,” Philosophy of Science 10, no. 1 (1943): 9 and 23–24. 22. Warren S. McCulloch, “The Imitation of One Form of Life by Another—Biomimesis,” in Eugene E.


pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff

"Robert Solow", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Atkinson, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gunnar Myrdal, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, Herbert Marcuse, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, Seymour Hersh, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game

Stahlman, “Wiener’s Genius Project” (invited paper, IEEE 2014 Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century, 2014). 17.Steve J. Heims, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1980), 343. 18.Norbert Wiener, God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1964), 29. 19.“Machines Smarter Than Men? Interview with Dr. Norbert Wiener, Noted Scientist,” U.S. News & World Report, February 24, 1964, http://21stcenturywiener.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Machines-Smarter-Than-Man-Interview-with-Norbert-Wiener.pdf. 20.Defense Science Board, “The Role of Autonomy in DoD Systems,” U.S.

“Transportation and Material Moving Occupations,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/home.htm. 11.Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly, July 1, 1945, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881. 12.Peter Norvig, keynote address, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Conference, Stanford, California, February 5, 2014. 3|A TOUGH YEAR FOR THE HUMAN RACE 1.John Markoff, “Skilled Work, without the Worker,” New York Times, August 18, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/business/new-wave-of-adept-robots-is-changing-global-industry.html. 2.Ibid. 3.Norbert Wiener, Collected Works with Commentaries, ed. Pesi Masani (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 272. 4.“Father of Cybernetics Norbert Wiener’s Letter to UAW President Walter Reuther,” August 13, 1949, https://libcom.org/history/father-cybernetics-norbert-wieners-letter-uaw-president-walter-reuther. 5.Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, The Father of Cybernetics, Kindle ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2009), Kindle location 246. 6.Anthony Carew, Walter Reuther (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1993). 7.Conway, Dark Hero of the Information Age, 246. 8.Stephen Meyer, “‘An Economic “Frankenstein”’: UAW Workers’ Response to Automation at the Ford Brook Park Plant in the 1950s,” Michigan Historical Review 28 (2002): 63–90. 9.

Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, has frequently hosted me and is always a decade or two ahead in seeing where computing is heading. Mark Stahlman was generous in offering insights on Norbert Wiener and his impact. Mark Seiden, whose real-world computing experience stretches back to the first interactive computers, took time away from his work to help with editing, offering technical insight. Anders Fernstedt delved into the archives for gems from Norbert Wiener that had been lost for far too long. He painstakingly went through several of my drafts, offering context and grammar tips. Finally, to Leslie Terzian Markoff for sharing it all with me.


The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal by M. Mitchell Waldrop

Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Apple II, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bill Atkinson, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, functional programming, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Rulifson, John von Neumann, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert Metcalfe, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Wiener process, zero-sum game

Licklider, Psychologist" (unpublished address given before the Acousti- cal Society of America, 1 991). 7. Steve Heims, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1980), 379. 8. Jerome B. Wiesner, "The Communications Sciences-Those Early Days," in R. L. E.: 1946+20 (Cambridge, Mass.: Research Laboratory for Electronics, MIT, 1966), 13. 9. Pesi R. Masanl, Norbert Wiener (Basel: Blfkhauser, 1990), 16. 10. Wiesner, "The CommunICations Sciences-Those Early Days," 13. 11. Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics, or Control and Communicatzon in the Animal and the Machine, 2d ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1961),43.

Wiesner, "The Communications Sciences-Those Early Days," in R.L.E.: 1946+20 (Cambridge, Mass.: Research Laboratory for Electronics, MIT, 1966), 12. 4. Steve Helms, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1980), 206. 5. Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics, or Control and CommunicatiOn in the Animal and the Machine, 2d ed. (Cambndge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1961),23. 6. Heims, Von Neumann/Wiener, 189. 7. Norbert Wiener, "A Scientist Rebels," Atlantic Monthly, January 1947, and Bulletin of the Atomic Sci- entlSts, January 1947. 8. Helms, Von Neumann/Wiener, 334-35. 9.

CHAPTER 2: THE LAST TRANSITION 1. Norbert Wiener, I Am a MathematiCian: The Later Life of a Prodigy (Cambndge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1956),112. 2. Vannevar Bush, "The Inscrutable 'Thirties" (1933), in From Memex to f(ypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine, ed. James M. Nyce and Paul Kahn (San DIego: AcademIC Press, 1991),74. 3. Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think" (1945), in Nyce and Kahn, eds., From Memex to f(ypertext, 89. 4. Qpoted in James M. Nyce and Paul Kahn, "A Machine for the Mind: Vannevar Bush's Memex," In From Memex to Hypertext, 53-54. 5. Bush, "As We May Think," 101-2. 6. Norbert Wiener, "Memorandum on the MechanICal Solution of Partial Differential Equations" NOTES 477 (1940), in Norbert Wiener: Collected Works, ed.


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Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology by Howard Rheingold

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, card file, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, popular electronics, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Robert Metcalfe, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture

Grattan-Guiness, "The Russell Archives: Some New Light on Russell's Logicism," Annals of Science, vol. 31 (1974), 406. [3] M. D. Fagen, ed., A history of Engineering and science in the Bell System: National Service in War and Peace (1925-1975) (Murray Hill, N.J.: Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., 1978), 135. [4] Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1948), 8. [5] Adam Rosenblueth, Norbert Wiener, and John Bigelow, "Behavior, Purpose, and Teleology," Philosophy of Science, vol. 10 (1943), 18-24. [6] Warren McCulloch, Embodiments of Mind Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1965). [7] Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts, "A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity," Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics, vol. 5 (1943), 115-133

John von Neumann was the center of the group who created the "stored program" concept that made truly powerful computers possible, and he specified a template that is still used to design almost all computers--the "von Neumann architecture." When he died, the Secretaries of Defense, the Army, Air Force, and Navy and the Joint Chiefs of staff were all gathered around his bed, attentive to his last gasps of technical and policy advice. Norbert Wiener, raised to be a prodigy, graduated from Tufts at fourteen, earned his Ph.D. from Harvard at eighteen, and studied with Bertrand Russell at nineteen. Wiener had a different kind of personality than his contemporary and colleague, von Neumann. Although involved in the early years of computers, he eventually refused to take part in research that could lead to the construction of weapons.

The emergence of the digital computer, based on the principles of Turing's machine, was stimulated by World War II, which was still four years in the future. In 1936, Claude Shannon had yet to discover that the algebra invented by George Boole to formalize logical operations was identical with the mathematics used to describe switching circuits. John von Neumann and his colleagues had yet to devise the concept of stored programming. Norbert Wiener hadn't formalized the description of feedback circuits in control systems. Several crucial electronic developments were yet to come. Although only a half-dozen metamathematicians thought about such things during the 1930s, the notion of machines whose functions depend on the descriptions of how they operate happened to have one real-world application that suddenly became very important toward the end of the decade.


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The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lifelogging, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce

♦ “AN INFANT PRODIGY NAMED WIENER”: Bertrand Russell to Lucy Donnelly, 19 October 1913, quoted in Steve J. Heims, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1980), 18. ♦ “HE IS AN ICEBERG”: Norbert Wiener to Leo Wiener, 15 October 1913, quoted in Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Weiner, the Father of Cybernetics (New York: Basic Books, 2005), 30. ♦ “WE ARE SWIMMING UPSTREAM AGAINST A GREAT TORRENT”: Norbert Wiener, I Am a Mathematician: The Later Life of a Prodigy (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1964), 324. ♦ “A NEW INTERPRETATION OF MAN”: Ibid., 375

.♦ He meant cybernetics to be a field that would synthesize the study of communication and control, also the study of human and machine. Norbert Wiener had first become known to the world as a curiosity: a sport, a prodigy, driven and promoted by his father, a professor at Harvard. “A lad who has been proudly termed by his friends the brightest boy in the world,” The New York Times reported on page 1 when he was fourteen years old, “will graduate next month from Tufts College.… Aside from the fact that Norbert Wiener’s capacity for learning is phenomenal, he is as other boys.… His intense black eyes are his most striking feature.”♦ When he wrote his memoirs, he always used the word prodigy in the titles: Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth and I Am a Mathematician: The Later Life of a Prodigy.

♦ “I CONSIDER HOW MUCH INFORMATION IS PRODUCED”: Claude Shannon to Norbert Wiener, 13 October 1948, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Archives. ♦ “THAT SOME OF US SHOULD VENTURE TO EMBARK”: Erwin Schrödinger, What Is Life?, reprint ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), 1. ♦ “SCHRÖDINGER’S BOOK BECAME A KIND OF UNCLE TOM’S CABIN”: Gunther S. Stent, “That Was the Molecular Biology That Was,” Science 160, no. 3826 (1968): 392. ♦ “WHEN IS A PIECE OF MATTER SAID TO BE ALIVE?”: Erwin Schrödinger, What Is Life?, 69. ♦ “THE STABLE STATE OF AN ENZYME”: Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, 2nd ed.


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Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code by Matthew Cobb

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, anti-communist, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, phenotype, post-materialism, Stephen Hawking

S. 7, 17, 74, 80–1, 84, 86 Hapsburg lip 12 Hartley, Ralph 27 Harvey, William 2 Hawking, Stephen 73 Heaton, Norma 210, 310 helical structures the α-helix 95, 97, 100, 105 DNA as 58, 70–1, 94, 99–101, 104–5 triple helix models 99–100, 104, 106 X-ray signature of 102, 106 see also double helix Heppel, Leon 176, 180 herbicides and GM crops 270 heredity concept of the gene 3 genetic code and views of 312 inheritance of acquired characteristics 138, 260 patterns of, in humans 2 Schrödinger’s code-script and 13 see also genes Herriott, Roger 66–7 Hershey, Al 60, 65–70, 215 Hertwig, Oscar 3 Hinshelwood, Sir Cyril 71–2, 114, 214 hippo 239 Hiroshima 18, 28–9, 75, 86, 89, 151 histones, epigenetic marks 257 Hitler, Adolph Mrs Norbert Wiener and 21 Schrödinger and 11 Hoagland, Mahlon 134–5 Holliger, Philipp 274–5 Homo floresiensis 242n horizontal gene transfer 270–1, 284 Hotchkiss, Rollin 38, 59–60, 65, 68, 197 RNA world hypothesis 289 human beings On the human use of …, by Norbert Wiener 83, 268 information content 84 number of anticodons 211 patterns of heredity 2 human brain, computer parallels 30–1 Human Genome Project 231–2 human genomes base pair frequency 295 ENCODE project 247–8, 296 evolutionary insights 239–42 information content 85 mass sequencing 236 number of protein-encoding genes 242, 244 proportion of transposons 245 variability of 234 100,000 genomes project 236 Huntington’s disease 231, 304 Hurst, Laurence 293 Hurwitz, Jerry 183, 187–8 Hutchinson, G.

The NRDC went on to mobilise more than 6,000 American scientists, including those working on the ultra-secret Manhattan Project, which eventually produced the atomic bomb.1 The scale of spending was immense: by 1944, the federal research budget was $700m per year – more than ten times the amount spent in 1938.* One of the scientists involved in this work was a brilliant and mercurial mathematician from MIT named Norbert Wiener (pronounced Wee-ner). In September 1940, 46-year-old Wiener – a portly, cigar-smoking vegetarian, who was short-sighted and wore a rakish van Dyke beard – wrote to Vannevar Bush offering his services: ‘I hope you may find some corner of the activity in which I may be of use during the emergency.’

–FIVE– THE AGE OF CONTROL In his 1988 best-seller A Brief History of Time, the physicist Stephen Hawking recounts that his editor told him that every equation he used would halve the potential readership. Hawking obligingly included just one equation (e = mc2) and the book went on to sell more than 10 million copies. Things were clearly different back in the 1940s – Norbert Wiener’s 1948 popular science book Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine was stuffed full of hundreds of complicated equations, and yet it became a publishing sensation around the world. With its weird title and its promise of a new theory of nearly everything, Cybernetics took the bookstores by storm.


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Inside the Robot Kingdom: Japan, Mechatronics and the Coming Robotopia by Frederik L. Schodt

carbon-based life, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, factory automation, game design, guest worker program, industrial robot, Jacques de Vaucanson, Norbert Wiener, post-industrial society, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, V2 rocket, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce

Devol's idea was a form of flexible automation, a transfer apparatus or manipulator that could do many things, such as pick cartons off a series of pallets and then put them on a conveyor belt to be transferred into a truck-a simple operation usually performed by hand that was, he wrote, "a waste of manpower that is here corrected."3 The Programmed Article Transfer was made possible by advances in feedback and servomechanism technology during World War II. As MIT mathematician-genius Norbert Wiener articulated it in 1948, in his theory of cybernetics, or control and communication, feedback is used by both animals and automatic machines when "behavior is scanned for its result, and . . . the success or failure of this result modifies future behavior."4 In humans, when an arm is extended, nerve cells in the joints sense and send the brain information on its position.

With robots, AGV, and other computer-controlled machinery, the Casio factory is a true FMS system; over sixteen different models of calculators in a variety of different sizes can be produced in virtually any quantity desired. By simply instructing the system from the plant's computer control room (manned by Casio computers), the appropriate model changes can be made in not months, but one minute. * * * * * * * * * * * * In 1950, before industrial robots existed, Norbert Wiener saw that feedback and servo technology would make possible not only programmable tools, but even an "automatic" factory. "The overall system," he predicted, "will correspond to the complete animal with sense organs, effectors, and proprioceptors, and not, as in the ultra-rapid computing machine, to an isolated brain, dependent for its experiences and for its effectiveness on our intervention."16 Today's unmanned factory increasingly resembles his vision.

Whatever robots are, and whatever they become, they will be hard to define. And it may be best not to try too hard; like children outgrowing their clothes, robots will evolve out of any definitions we give them. PART TWO Before Industrial Robots: A State of Mind The First Japanese Robot * * * Every tool has a genealogy. NORBERT WIENER, 1950 * * * When asked about the origins of their nation's interest in robots, many Japanese refer to a seventeenth-century mechanical doll. Its image—that of a kimono-clad boy servant carrying a cup of tea—is used today in advertisements for factory automation, and a replica of the original is on display at the National Science Museum in Tokyo.


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A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar

"Robert Solow", Al Roth, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Brownian motion, business cycle, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, experimental economics, fear of failure, Gunnar Myrdal, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, linear programming, lone genius, longitudinal study, market design, medical residency, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, Ronald Coase, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, spectrum auction, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, upwardly mobile, zero-sum game

., April 22 and 23, 1953. 21. Samuelson, interview. 22. Martin, interview. 23. Ibid. 24. See, for example, Wiener’s obituary, New York Times, 3.19.64; Paul Samuelson, “Some Memories of Norbert Wiener,” 1964, Xerox provided by Samuelson; and Norbert Wiener, Ex-Prodigy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1953) and I Am a Mathematician (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1956). 25. Samuelson, “Some Memories of Norbert Wiener,” op. cit. 26. Ibid. 27. Zipporah Levinson, interview, 9.11.95. 28. Samuelson, “Some Memories of Norbert Weiner,” op. cit. 29. Z. Levinson, interview. 30. Ibid. 31. Ibid. 32. Ibid. 33.

Nash would climb another mountain altogether and from that distant peak would shine a searchlight back onto the first peak.”5 No one was more obsessed with originality, more disdainful of authority, or more jealous of his independence. As a young man he was surrounded by the high priests of twentieth-century science — Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, and Norbert Wiener — but he joined no school, became no one’s disciple, got along largely without guides or followers. In almost everything he did — from game theory to geometry — he thumbed his nose at the received wisdom, current fashions, established methods. He almost always worked alone, in his head, usually walking, often whistling Bach.

He walked into the common room one winter morning in 1959 carrying The New York Times and remarked, to no one in particular, that the story in the upper left-hand corner of the front page contained an encrypted message from inhabitants of another galaxy that only he could decipher.27 Even months later, after he had stopped teaching, had angrily resigned his professorship, and was incarcerated at a private psychiatric hospital in suburban Boston, one of the nation’s leading forensic psychiatrists, an expert who testified in the case of Sacco and Vanzetti, insisted that Nash was perfectly sane. Only a few of those who witnessed the uncanny metamorphosis, Norbert Wiener among them, grasped its true significance.28 At thirty years of age, Nash suffered the first shattering episode of paranoid schizophrenia, the most catastrophic, protean, and mysterious of mental illnesses. For the next three decades, Nash suffered from severe delusions, hallucinations, disordered thought and feeling, and a broken will.


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The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bob Geldof, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, lifelogging, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Metcalfe’s law, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer rental, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, San Francisco homelessness, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, The future is already here, The Future of Employment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, Thomas L Friedman, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator

Where do the origins of the Internet lie? Forebears They lie with those Luftwaffe bombers flying at up to 250 miles an hour and at altitudes of over 30,000 feet above London at the beginning of World War II. In 1940, an eccentric Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor of mathematics named Norbert Wiener, “the original computer geek,” according to the New York Times,8 began working on a system to track the German aircraft that controlled the skies above London. The son of a Jewish immigrant from Białystok in Poland, Wiener had become so obsessed with lending his scientific knowledge to the war against Germany that he’d been forced to seek psychoanalytical help to control his anti-Nazi fixation.9 Technology could do good, he was convinced.

In the middle decades of this century, the Institute became a seething cauldron of ideas about information, computing, communications and control,” explains the Internet historian John Naughton. “And when we dip into it seeking the origins of the Net, three names always come up. They are Vannevar Bush, Norbert Wiener and J. C. R. Licklider.”10 In the 1930s, Wiener had been part of the team that worked on Vannevar Bush’s “differential analyser,” a 100-ton electromagnetic analog computer cobbled together out of pulleys, shafts, wheels, and gears and which was designed to solve differential equations. And in 1941 Wiener had even pitched a prototype of a digital computer to Bush, more than five years before the world’s first working digital device, the 1,800-square-foot, $500,000 Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), funded by the US Army and described by the press as a “giant brain,” was unveiled in 1946.

There may not have been an electronic communications network yet, but the idea of a self-correcting information system between man and machine, “a thing of almost natural beauty that constantly righted its errors through feedback from its environment,” in the words of the technology writer James Harkin,12 was born with Wiener’s revolutionary flight path predictor machine. While Norbert Wiener’s technical challenge was making sense of scarce information, Vannevar Bush was worried about its overabundance. In September 1945, Bush published an article titled “As We May Think,” in the Atlantic Monthly magazine. The purpose of the essay was to answer the question “What are scientists to do next?”


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In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence by George Zarkadakis

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, animal electricity, anthropic principle, Asperger Syndrome, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, British Empire, business process, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, continuous integration, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Snowden, epigenetics, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kickstarter, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, millennium bug, Moravec's paradox, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, off grid, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, post-industrial society, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

I will return to the very interesting connection of cybernetics, Plato and global governance later in the book. For now, I want to focus on four individuals who took part in the Macy Conferences, and whose work laid the foundations for Artificial Intelligence: Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, Warren McCulloch and John von Neumann. We have already met the first two. Norbert Wiener was the grand visionary of cybernetics. Inspired by mechanical control systems, such as artillery targeting and servomechanisms, as well as Claude Shannon’s mathematical theory of communication and information, he articulated the theory of cybernetics in his landmark book, Cybernetics, of 1948.4 Godfather number two, Claude Shannon, was the genius who gave us information theory.

And that’s how my journey into Artificial Intelligence began. And quite a journey it was, too, for I literarily had to pack my suitcases and fly to London to study at university. My choice of subject was Control and Systems Engineering, a discipline based on the theory of cybernetics as developed by the American mathematician Norbert Wiener in the 1940s. Wiener is one of the demigods of Artificial Intelligence. Born in Missouri in 1894, he was a child prodigy who earned a degree in mathematics at the age of fourteen and a doctorate at seventeen. A polymath with an insatiable appetite for knowledge, Wiener studied philosophy as well as zoology, then travelled to Europe to learn from the most prominent mathematical celebrities of the early twentieth century: Bertrand Russell at Cambridge and David Hilbert at Göttingen.

Born in Leipzig at the end of the Thirty Years War that devastated the German-speaking countries, Leibniz became one of the foremost intellectuals of all time, making important contributions to just about every branch of science. He was also an engineer and inventor. He is considered to be the first computer scientist and information theorist. He advanced the binary numerical system that computers use today. He built calculating machines. Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics, claimed to have found in Leibniz’s writings the first mention of the concept of feedback, the central idea of cybernetics. And, yes, Leibniz had a solution to the body–mind problem, too! Not satisfied with Descartes’ hypothesis concerning the pineal gland, Leibniz proposed the existence of elementary particles that could ‘perceive’ one another.


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Darwin Among the Machines by George Dyson

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, backpropagation, British Empire, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer age, Danny Hillis, Donald Davies, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, IFF: identification friend or foe, independent contractor, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, low earth orbit, Menlo Park, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, phenotype, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, spectrum auction, strong AI, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture, zero-sum game

Good, “Some Future Social Repercussions of Computers,” International Journal of Environmental Studies 1 (1970): 69. 24.Burks, interview. 25.Ralph Slutz, interview by Christopher Evans, June 1976, OH 86, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. 26.Ware, interview. 27.Herman H. Goldstine, interview by Nancy Stern, 11 August 1980, OH 18, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. 28.Norbert Wiener, I Am a Mathematician (New York: Doubleday, 1956), 242–243. 29.Julian Bigelow, Arturo Rosenblueth, and Norbert Wiener, “Behavior, Purpose and Teleology,” Philosophy of Science 10, no. 1 (1943): 22. 30.Warren S. McCulloch, “The Imitation of One Form of Life by Another—Biomimesis,” in Eugene E. Bernard and Morley R. Kare, eds., Biological Prototypes and Synthetic Systems, Proceedings of the Second Annual Bionics Symposium sponsored by Cornell University and the General Electric Company, Advanced Electronics Center, held at Cornell University, August 30–September 1, 1961, vol. 1 (New York: Plenum Press, 1962), 393. 31.Ware, interview. 32.Ibid. 33.Julian Bigelow, “Computer Development at the Institute for Advanced Study,” in Nicholas Metropolis, J.

In the second, posthumous volume of Ampère’s Essay, published by his son in 1843, Ampère explains how he came to recognize a field of knowledge “which I name Cybernétique, from the word κυβερνετική, which was applied first, in a restricted sense, to the steering of a vessel, and later acquired, even among the Greeks, a meaning extending to the art of steering in general.”21 Ampère, an early advocate of the electromagnetic telegraph and mathematical pioneer of both game theory and electrodynamics, thereby anticipated the Cybernetics of Norbert Wiener, who, another century later, reinvented both Ampère’s terminology and Hobbes’s philosophy in their current, electronic form. “Although the term cybernetics does not date further back than the summer of 1947,” wrote Wiener in 1948, “we shall find it convenient to use in referring to earlier epochs of the development of the field.”22 Wiener, who was involved in the development of radar-guided anti-aircraft fire control, which marked the beginning of rudimentary perception by electronic machines, was unaware until after the publication of Cybernetics of the coincidence in choosing a name coined by the same Ampère we now honor in measuring the flow of electrons through a circuit.

But their preparation required enormous numbers of complex calculations, largely performed by hand. The task resembled preparing the annual nautical almanac, except that it was necessary to prepare a separate almanac for each gun. Mathematician Oswald Vehlen (1880–1960), the proving ground’s first director, assembled a notable constellation of mathematicians, including Norbert Wiener, at Aberdeen during World War I. The group dispersed its talent widely, contributing to every facet of computational mathematics and computer technology between World War I and World War II. Veblen became department head at Princeton University, soon making Princeton the rival of Göttingen in mathematics.


Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Writing Science) by Thierry Bardini

Apple II, augmented reality, Bill Duvall, conceptual framework, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, Grace Hopper, hiring and firing, hypertext link, index card, information retrieval, invention of hypertext, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Rulifson, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Leonard Kleinrock, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, packet switching, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, Ted Nelson, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, unbiased observer, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog

In the eight years between 1946, the year of the first in the series of conferences supported by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, multidisciplinary meetings of the group of psycholo- gists, mathematicians, engineers, and social scientists who created cybernetics, and 1954, when the second edition of Norbert Wiener's The Human Use of Human BeIngs: CybernetIcs and SocIety was published, cybernetic concepts, methods, and metaphors gained a huge popularity. 10 As we will see in greater depth later, the writings of Ashby, Wiener, and others on cybernetics deeply influenced Engelbart, then in his maturing years, just as they influenced many computer scientists in the 1950'S and 1960'S.11 To understand Engelbart's con- nection with cybernetics also helps us make sense of the solution to the prob- lem of complexity and urgency that Engelbart proposed, and, more impor- tantly, helps to situate that solution in the environment of post-World War II American culture.

(quoted in Gibson 19 80 , 57) SRI provided Engelbart with an environment that he saw was perhaps suited to the implementation of his crusade and that at the same time was connected to the industrial and business world, relatively free of academic commitments and burdens, but still in something resembling an academic setting. For an out- sider on a crusade, it was about the best he could do. Scouting the Frontier Most of the individuals who directly influenced Engelbart, as we will see, also were outsiders, other "free intellectuals" such as Norbert Wiener,12 Alfred 16 ln oduchon Korzybski, and Benjamin Lee Whorf, and all of whom directly suffered from the pervasive anti-intellectualism of American culture before and after World War II. Engelbart, however, was a radar technician turned computer engineer, and therefore certainly was well positioned to be absorbed into some large organization as a "technical expert."

I happen to thInk that none among our "big thInkers" can stretch his mind to the dimensions needed for anticipating the extent of the com- puter's future role in our society. This covers both breadth and depth - How many kind of ways are computers going to be applied, and how sIgnificantly? Engelbart here was not just deploying the rhetoric of the American frontier, but also following Norbert Wiener, who "had redefined the function of a 18 IntroductIon scientist or engineer from mere expertise to competence and sophistication in the difficult, exacting task of anticipating the social effects of his work" (Heims 1980,337). In a paper entitled "Some Moral and Technical Consequences of Automation" that appeared in Science a few months before Engelbart's writ- ing, Wiener had claimed that "for the individual scientist, even the partial ap- praisal of the liaison between the man and the [historical] process requires an imaginative forward glance at history which is difficult, exacting and only lim- itedlyachievable" (quoted in Heims 1980, 337).


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The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr

Airbnb, Airbus A320, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, Bernard Ziegler, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Charles Lindbergh, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, computerized trading, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, turn-by-turn navigation, US Airways Flight 1549, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Langewiesche

Mindell, Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 247. 41.Stuart Bennett, A History of Control Engineering, 1800–1930 (London: Peter Peregrinus, 1979), 99–100. 42.Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (New York: Da Capo, 1954), 153. 43.Eric W. Leaver and J. J. Brown, “Machines without Men,” Fortune, November 1946. See also David F. Noble, Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), 67–71. 44.Noble, Forces of Production, 234. 45.Ibid., 21–40. 46.Wiener, Human Use of Human Beings, 148–162. 47.Quoted in 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), 251. 48.Marc Andreessen, “Why Software Is Eating the World,” Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2011.

Macfarlane Gray patented a steamship steering mechanism that was able to register the movement of a boat’s helm and, through a gear-operated feedback system, adjust the angle of the rudder to maintain a set course.41 But the development of fast computers, along with other sensitive electronic controls, opened a new chapter in the history of machines. It vastly expanded the possibilities of automation. As the mathematician Norbert Wiener, who helped write the prediction algorithms for the Allies’ automated antiaircraft gun, explained in his 1950 book The Human Use of Human Beings, the advances of the 1940s enabled inventors and engineers to go beyond “the sporadic design of individual automatic mechanisms.” The new technologies, while designed with weaponry in mind, gave rise to “a general policy for the construction of automatic mechanisms of the most varied type.”

The dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, when for a few euphoric years riches flooded out of computer networks and into personal brokerage accounts, seemed to herald the start of a golden age of unlimited economic opportunity—what technology boosters dubbed a “long boom.” But the good times proved fleeting. Now we’re seeing that, as Norbert Wiener predicted, automation doesn’t play favorites. Computers are as good at analyzing symbols and otherwise parsing and managing information as they are at directing the moves of industrial robots. Even the people who operate complex computer systems are losing their jobs to software, as data centers, like factories, become increasingly automated.


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Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control by Stuart Russell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Alfred Russel Wallace, algorithmic bias, Andrew Wiles, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, blockchain, brain emulation, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer vision, connected car, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, Garrett Hardin, Gerolamo Cardano, ImageNet competition, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the wheel, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Mark Zuckerberg, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, positional goods, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit maximization, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, robotic process automation, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, surveillance capitalism, Thales of Miletus, The Future of Employment, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, Thomas Bayes, Thorstein Veblen, Tragedy of the Commons, transport as a service, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, Von Neumann architecture, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, zero-sum game

Wiener’s prescient discussion of technological control over humanity and a plea to retain human autonomy: Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings (Riverside Press, 1950). 6. The front-cover blurb from Wiener’s 1950 book is remarkably similar to the motto of the Future of Life Institute, an organization dedicated to studying the existential risks that humanity faces: “Technology is giving life the potential to flourish like never before . . . or to self-destruct.” 7. An updating of Wiener’s views arising from his increased appreciation of the possibility of intelligent machines: Norbert Wiener, God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion (MIT Press, 1964). 8.

Finally, in statistics, learning algorithms are designed to minimize an expected loss function that defines the cost of making prediction errors. Evidently, this general scheme—which I will call the standard model—is widespread and extremely powerful. Unfortunately, we don’t want machines that are intelligent in this sense. The drawback of the standard model was pointed out in 1960 by Norbert Wiener, a legendary professor at MIT and one of the leading mathematicians of the mid-twentieth century. Wiener had just seen Arthur Samuel’s checker-playing program learn to play checkers far better than its creator. That experience led him to write a prescient but little-known paper, “Some Moral and Technical Consequences of Automation.”10 Here’s how he states the main point: If we use, to achieve our purposes, a mechanical agency with whose operation we cannot interfere effectively . . . we had better be quite sure that the purpose put into the machine is the purpose which we really desire.

If the gorilla problem can be solved only in this way, it isn’t going to be solved. The only approach that seems likely to work is to understand why it is that making better AI might be a bad thing. It turns out that we have known the answer for thousands of years. The King Midas Problem Norbert Wiener, whom we met in Chapter 1, had a profound impact on many fields, including artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and control theory. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he was particularly concerned with the unpredictability of complex systems operating in the real world. (He wrote his first paper on this topic at the age of ten.)


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Emergence by Steven Johnson

A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, edge city, epigenetics, game design, garden city movement, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Murano, Venice glass, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, pez dispenser, phenotype, Potemkin village, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, slashdot, social intelligence, Socratic dialogue, stakhanovite, Steven Pinker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush

Turing and Shannon had argued over the future musical tastes of the “electronic brain” during lunch hour at Bell Labs, while their colleague Norbert Wiener had written a best-selling paean to the self-regulatory powers of feedback in his 1949 manifesto Cybernetics. “Mostly my participation in all of this is a matter of good luck for me,” Selfridge says today, sitting in his cramped, windowless MIT office. Born in England, Selfridge enrolled at Harvard at the age of fifteen and started his doctorate three years later at MIT, where Norbert Wiener was his dissertation adviser. As a precocious twenty-one-year-old, Selfridge suggested a few corrections to a paper that his mentor had published on heart flutters, corrections that Wiener graciously acknowledged in the opening pages of Cybernetics.

The system Selfridge described—with its bottom-up learning, and its evaluating feedback loops—belongs in the history books as the first practical description of an emergent software program. The world now swarms with millions of his demons. * * * Among the students at MIT in the late forties was a transplanted midwesterner named John Holland. Holland was also a pupil of Norbert Wiener’s, and he spent a great deal of his undergraduate years stealing time on the early computer prototypes being built in Cambridge at that time. His unusual expertise at computer programming led IBM to hire him in the fifties to help develop their first commercial calculator, the 701. As a student of Wiener’s, he was naturally inclined to experiment with ways to make the sluggish 701 machine learn in a more organic, bottom-up fashion—not unlike Selfridge’s Pandemonium—and Holland and a group of like-minded colleagues actually programmed a crude simulation of neurons interacting.

In the contemporary rendition, it’s not that the slave technology grows stronger than us and learns to disobey our commands—it’s that we deteriorate to the level of the machines. Smart technology makes us dumber. The critique certainly has its merits, and even among the Net community—if it’s still possible to speak of a single Net community—intelligent software remains much villified in some quarters. Decades ago, in a curiously brilliant book, God and Golem, Inc., Norbert Wiener argued that “in poems, in novels, in painting, the brain seems to find itself able to work very well with material that any computer would have to reject as formless.” For many people the distinction persists to this day: we look to our computers for number crunching; when we want cultural advice, we’re already blessed with plenty of humans to consult.


The Fractalist by Benoit Mandelbrot

Albert Einstein, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, business cycle, Claude Shannon: information theory, discrete time, double helix, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, linear programming, Louis Bachelier, Louis Blériot, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Olbers’ paradox, Paul Lévy, Richard Feynman, statistical model, urban renewal, Vilfredo Pareto

These two men were the only living proof that my Keplerian dream was not an idle one—that it was possible to put together and develop a new mathematical approach to a very old, very concrete problem that overlapped several disciplines. Matching the sterling quality of their accomplishments was far beyond my ambitions, and I couldn’t think of less exalted advisers. Norbert Wiener of MIT The towering Keplerian achievements of Norbert Wiener (1894–1964) were his mathematical theory of Brownian motion and cybernetics—the word and the book. Isaac Newton knew around 1700 that prisms decompose light into components of different colors. But the mathematical theory was given much later, by Wiener. A related achievement, his theory of Brownian motion, strongly affected me later in my life—as a miserable model of the variation of competitive prices, and as a wiggle with an interesting boundary that forms fractal islands.

Two examples of sweet irony: Szolem loved and faithfully served through his life two topics of truly classical mathematics: the Taylor and the Fourier series. In the twentieth century, both developed into fields self-described as “fine” or “hard” mathematical analysis. They forgot their roots in physics, except for a massive contribution from another man who was to play an important role in my life, Norbert Wiener. After Szolem made me learn these topics, I flew away—but never jettisoned what I had learned. In Szolem’s theorems, the list of assumptions could take pages. The distinctions he enjoyed were elusive, and at his preferred level of complexity, no condition was both necessary and sufficient. The issues he tackled had a long pedigree within pure mathematics.

The timing was ideal because several new developments that had been “bottled up” by war conditions were being revealed in a kind of fireworks I saw on no other occasion. My restless curiosity led me to read works that were widely discussed when they appeared: Mathematical Theory of Communication by Claude Shannon, Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine by Norbert Wiener, and Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. Except for a fleeting thought that I might return to mathematics in 1949 via the University of Chicago, I was beginning to think that the examples of Wiener and von Neumann might guide me to an idea big enough to make me, in some way, the Delbrück of a new field.


pages: 524 words: 120,182

Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Garrett Hardin, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, scientific worldview, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tragedy of the Commons, Turing machine

These meetings were organized by a small group of scientists and mathematicians who were exploring common principles of widely varying complex systems. A prime mover of this group was the mathematician Norbert Wiener, whose work on the control of anti-aircraft guns during World War II had convinced him that the science underlying complex systems in both biology and engineering should focus not on the mass, energy, and force concepts of physics, but rather on the concepts of feedback, control, information, communication, and purpose (or “teleology”). Norbert Wiener, 1894–1964 (AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives) In addition to Norbert Wiener, the series of Macy Foundation conferences included several scientific luminaries of the time, such as John von Neumann, Warren McCulloch, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Claude Shannon, W.

CHAPTER 14 Prospects of Computer Modeling BECAUSE COMPLEX SYSTEMS ARE TYPICALLY, as their name implies, hard to understand, the more mathematically oriented sciences such as physics, chemistry, and mathematical biology have traditionally concentrated on studying simple, idealized systems that are more tractable via mathematics. However, more recently, the existence of fast, inexpensive computers has made it possible to construct and experiment with models of systems that are too complex to be understood with mathematics alone. The pioneers of computer science—Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, and others—were all motivated by the desire to use computers to simulate systems that develop, think, learn, and evolve. In this fashion a new way of doing science was born. The traditional division of science into theory and experiment has been complemented by an additional category: computer simulation (figure 14.1).

Ross Ashby’s “Design for a Brain,” an influential proposal for how the ideas of dynamics, information, and feedback should inform neuroscience and psychology; Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts’ model of neurons as logic devices, which was the impetus for the later field of neural networks; Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson’s application of cybernetic ideas in psychology and anthropology; and Norbert Wiener’s books Cybernetics and The Human Use of Human Beings, which attempted to provide a unified overview of the field and its relevance in many disciplines. These are only a few examples of works that are still influential today. In its own time, the research program of cybernetics elicited both enthusiasm and disparagement.


pages: 332 words: 109,213

The Scientist as Rebel by Freeman Dyson

Albert Einstein, Asilomar, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, dark matter, double helix, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, kremlinology, Mikhail Gorbachev, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, undersea cable

The day after his arrival, he died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism on the steps of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Dark Hero of the Information Age5 is the third biography of Norbert Wiener, unless there are others of which I am ignorant. First came a joint biography of Wiener and the mathematician John von Neumann, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, by Steve Heims in 1980.6 Then came Norbert Wiener, 1894–1964, by Pesi Masani in 1990.7 The main justification for a new biography is that the three biographies emphasize different aspects of Wiener’s life and character.

Several chapters in this book are devoted to famous scientists who were also famous rebels. Thomas Gold (Chapter 3) was a great astronomer with heretical opinions about many subjects. Joseph Rotblat (Chapter 12) was unique as a scientist who walked out of the wartime Los Alamos bomb project when he learned that the threat of a German atomic bomb had disappeared. Norbert Wiener (Chapter 22) was a great mathematician who refused on moral grounds to have anything to do with either industry or government. Desmond Bernal (Chapter 24) was one of the founding fathers of molecular biology, and also a faithful member of the Communist Party and a passionate believer in Marxism.

Szilard had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Rutherford that a neutron chain reaction was a practical and dangerous possibility. It is interesting to speculate how different the history of the last century might have been if Rutherford had taken Szilard’s warning seriously. 22 THE TRAGIC TALE OF A GENIUS NORBERT WIENER WAS famous at the beginning of his life and at the end. For thirty years in the middle during which he did his best work, he was comparatively unknown. He was famous at the beginning as a child prodigy. His father, Leo Wiener, the first Jew to be appointed a professor at Harvard, was a specialist in Slavic languages.


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Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex by Yasha Levine

23andMe, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Anne Wojcicki, anti-communist, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bitcoin, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, collaborative editing, colonial rule, computer age, computerized markets, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, digital map, disinformation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global village, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Hangouts, Hacker Conference 1984, Howard Zinn, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Jacob Appelbaum, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, life extension, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, private military company, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, Snapchat, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Hackers Conference, uber lyft, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks

Hafner and Lyon, Where Wizards Stay Up Late, 30–32; Benj Edwards, “The Never-Before-Told Story of the World’s First Computer Art (It’s a Sexy Dame),” The Atlantic, January 24, 2013. 14. In Your Defense (motion picture) (SAGE Programming Agency, US Air Force, 1950). 15. Family interviews and other personal details about Norbert Wiener are informed by the great biography by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics (New York: Basic Books, 2006). 16. Conway and Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age, chap. 1. 17. Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (New York: Doubleday, 1950). 18. Paul N. Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996). 19.

It was a small but vital component of SAGE, and the work opened his eyes to the possibilities of building tools that integrated people and computers into one continuous system: a man-machine that broke through human physical limitations and created powerful new hybrid beings. Cyborgs and Cybernetics The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was ground zero for a new science called cybernetics. Developed by MIT professor Norbert Wiener, cybernetics defined the world as a giant computational machine. It offered a conceptual and mathematical framework for thinking about and designing complex information systems. Wiener was an odd and brilliant man. He was short, pudgy, with a meaty round head and thick glasses. In his later years, he looked a bit like Hans Moleman from The Simpsons.

Neoclassical economists integrated cybernetics into their theories and began looking at markets as distributed information machines.19 Ecologists began to look at the earth itself as a self-regulating computational “bio system,” and cognitive psychologists and cognitive scientists approached the study of the human brain as if it were literally a complex digital computer.20 Political scientists and sociologists began to dream of using cybernetics to create a controlled utopian society, a perfectly well-oiled system where computers and people were integrated into a cohesive whole, managed and controlled to ensure security and prosperity.21 “Put most clearly: in the 1950s both the military and U.S. industry explicitly advocated a messianic understanding of computing, in which computation was the underlying matter of everything in the social world, and could therefore be brought under state-capitalist military control—centralized, hierarchical control,” writes historian David Golumbia in The Cultural Logic of Computation, a groundbreaking study of computational ideology.22 In a big way, this intermeshing of cybernetics and big power was what caused Norbert Wiener to turn against cybernetics almost as soon as he introduced it to the world. He saw scientists and military men taking the narrowest possible interpretation of cybernetics to create better killing machines and more efficient systems of surveillance and control and exploitation. He saw giant corporations using his ideas to automate production and cut labor in their quest for greater wealth and economic power.


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What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing by Ed Finn

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic bias, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bitcoin, blockchain, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Claude Shannon: information theory, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, factory automation, fiat currency, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, game design, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Conference 1984, High speed trading, hiring and firing, Ian Bogost, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, late fees, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Lyft, Mother of all demos, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, ride hailing / ride sharing, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, software studies, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, wage slave

2 Building the Star Trek Computer 3 House of Cards: The Aesthetics of Abstraction 4 Coding Cow Clicker: The Work of Algorithms 5 Counting Bitcoin Coda: The Algorithmic Imagination Works Cited Figure Credits Index List of Illustrations Figure 1.1 “This is a Turing Machine implemented in Conway’s Game of Life.” Designed by Paul Rendell. Figure 1.2 Norbert Wiener and his “moth” circa 1950. Alfred Eisenstaedt / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images. Figure 2.1 Siri playing up its human affect. Figure 2.2 Insert to the Encyclopédie, a disruptive knowledge ontology. Figure 2.3 “Search Story,” an ad for Google Search. Figure 3.1 “Do You Know When You Were Hooked?

In its heyday cybernetics, as the field was known, was a sustained intellectual argument about the place of algorithms in material culture—a debate about the politics of implementing mathematical ideas, or claiming to find them embodied, in physical and biological systems. The polymathic mathematician Norbert Wiener published the founding text of this new discipline in 1949, calling it Cybernetics; or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Wiener names Leibniz the patron saint of cybernetics: “The philosophy of Leibniz centers about two closely related concepts—that of a universal symbolism and that of a calculus of reasoning.”27 As the book’s title suggests, the aim of cybernetics in the 1940s and 1950s was to define and implement those two ideas: an intellectual system that could encompass all scientific fields, and a means of quantifying change within that system.

In fact, as historian Ronald Kline describes, the entire enterprise was a public relations stunt, the construction of the robot financed by Life magazine, which planned to run an article on cybernetics.41 Wiener’s demonstration machine presaged future spectacles of human–machine interaction like early Silicon Valley icon Douglas Engelbart’s “mother of all demos,” which first showcased several aspects of a functional personal computer experience in 1968. Figure 1.2 Norbert Wiener and his “moth” circa 1950. Alfred Eisenstaedt / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images. The theoretical aspirations of cybernetics were always dependent on material implementation, a fact that has challenged generations of artificial intelligence researchers pursuing the platonic ideal of neural networks that effectively model the human mind.42 Kline reports that Life never ran photos of Wiener’s moth because an editor felt the machine “illustrated the analogy between humans and machines by modeling the nervous system, rather than showing the human characteristics of computers, which was Life’s objective.”43 In the end, Wiener had built a bug.


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The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values by Brian Christian

Albert Einstein, algorithmic bias, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, butterfly effect, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer vision, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, effective altruism, Elon Musk, game design, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hedonic treadmill, ImageNet competition, industrial robot, Internet Archive, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Kenneth Arrow, longitudinal study, mandatory minimum, mass incarceration, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, premature optimization, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Saturday Night Live, selection bias, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, Steve Jobs, strong AI, the map is not the territory, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, zero-sum game

Other material is drawn from oral histories of Pitts’s contemporaries, particularly Jerome (Jerry) Lettvin in Anderson and Rosenfeld, Talking Nets, as well as the essays and recollections in McCulloch, The Collected Works of Warren S. McCulloch. For other accounts of Pitts’s life, see, e.g., Smalheiser, “Walter Pitts”; Easterling, “Walter Pitts”; and Gefter, “The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic.” Further details exist in biographies of McCulloch, Norbert Wiener, and the cybernetics group—e.g., Heims, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener and The Cybernetics Group, and Conway and Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age. 2. Whitehead and Russell, Principia Mathematica. 3. Thanks to the staff at the Bertrand Russell Archives at McMaster University for their help in attempting to locate a copy of this letter; unfortunately, no extant copy is known. 4.

“There had been several thousand papers published on perceptrons up to 1969,” says Minsky. “Our book put a stop to those.”8 It is as if a dark cloud has settled over the field, and everything falls apart: the research, the money, the people. Pitts, McCulloch, and Lettvin, who have all three moved to MIT, are sharply exiled after a misunderstanding with MIT’s Norbert Wiener, who had been like a second father figure to Pitts and now won’t speak to him. Pitts, alcoholic and depressed, throws all of his notes and papers into a fire, including an unpublished dissertation about three-dimensional neural networks that MIT tries desperately to salvage. Pitts dies from cirrhosis in May 1969, at the age of 46.9 A few months later Warren McCulloch, at the age of 70, succumbs to a heart seizure after a long series of cardiopulmonary problems.

Indeed, the seminal 1943 cybernetics paper “Behavior, Purpose and Teleology”—which, incidentally, coined the term “feedback” in its now common sense of “information used for adjustment”—set out to distinguish purposeful from purposeless (or random) behavior.18 For the cyberneticists, purpose was tantamount to a goal that could be arrived at as a place of rest. For arch-cyberneticist Norbert Wiener, one of the canonical “intrinsically purposeful” machines is a thermostat: when the temperature is too low, it turns on the heat, and when the temperature gets high enough, it shuts it off. He thought also of the “governor” of an engine—more than coincidentally, the term is an etymological kin to the word “cybernetics” itself, coming from the same Greek root kybernetes.19 (Thus “cybernetics,” for all its exotic sci-fi flavor, could well have been the much blander and more bureaucratic-sounding field of “governetics.”)


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Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Thomas Ramge

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, banking crisis, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Bear Stearns, bitcoin, blockchain, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, cognitive bias, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, gig economy, Google Glasses, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, land reform, lone genius, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market design, market fundamentalism, means of production, meta-analysis, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, Parag Khanna, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price anchoring, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, random walk, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, universal basic income, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

the general theory of feedback: See George Dyson, Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (New York: Pantheon Books, 2012), 109–114. in choosing the term “cybernetics”: On the ambivalence of Norbert Wiener’s work, see 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). “their control over the rest of the human race”: Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings (Boston: Da Capo Press, 1988), 247–250. Champagne fairs of the Middle Ages: Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan, The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—and They Shape Us (New York: PublicAffairs, 2016).

In most cases, the feedback loop of such a human-machine system works well, and even if it doesn’t, it fails gracefully. But systems based on complex feedback loops are tricky: they work so well in so many routine cases that we are tempted to disregard—even forget about—any built-in risk of extreme failure. Seven decades earlier, MIT professor Norbert Wiener, a child prodigy turned accomplished mathematician, conceived the general theory of feedback and its role in helping humans and machines control their actions. Feedback loops lie at the very core of Wiener’s concept: collecting and interpreting feedback data enables control over a system and adjustment of its goals.

At least Cybersyn was transparent: the centralization of planning and decision-making was obvious to all Chileans. By contrast, government control of adaptive machine learning systems in data-rich markets retains the trappings of decentralized coordination and the appearance of free will, but turns Norbert Wiener’s powerful concept of cybernetics into Big Brother riding data-rich feedback loops. It’s precisely what Wiener was worried about. The system, even if perhaps appearing to promote liberal values, would make George Orwell blush and the East German Stasi salivate: seeming freedom on the outside but total state control on the inside.


Artificial Whiteness by Yarden Katz

affirmative action, AI winter, algorithmic bias, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, blue-collar work, cellular automata, cloud computing, colonial rule, computer vision, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, David Graeber, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, Ferguson, Missouri, housing crisis, income inequality, information retrieval, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, Menlo Park, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, rent control, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Seymour Hersh, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, surveillance capitalism, talking drums, telemarketer, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

The American logician John McCarthy coined the label “Artificial Intelligence” to describe a meeting (with all men attendees) he co-organized in 1956 at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. McCarthy never defined the term explicitly and had in fact considered several options before picking “AI.” He thought of using “cybernetics” but decided against it, because that would mean embracing MIT mathematician Norbert Wiener, who coined the term, as the field’s “guru.”6 Cybernetics was already too close to the field McCarthy was trying to claim. Cybernetics was loosely structured around the notion of feedback—when systems react to their own actions—which was presented as a unifying principle for how both organisms and machines operate.

Yerkes’s report from 1921 on psychologists’ services to the military, “Psychological Examining in the United States Army,” in Readings in the History of Psychology, ed. Wayne Dennis (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948), 528–40.     6.   Nils J. Nilsson, The Quest for Artificial Intelligence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 53.     7.   Peter Galison, “The Ontology of the Enemy: Norbert Wiener and the Cybernetic Vision,” Critical Inquiry 21, no. 1 (1994): 228–66.     8.   See V. Rajaraman, “John McCarthy—Father of Artificial Intelligence,” Resonance 19, no. 3 (2014): 198–207. To McCarthy’s disappointment, the collection coedited with Shannon, published under the heading “Automata Studies,” ended up attracting conventional cyberneticians.

Martin Shubik, “Bibliography on Simulation, Gaming, Artificial Intelligence and Allied Topics,” Journal of the American Statistical Association 55, no. 292 (1960): 736–51.   13.   Seymour Papert, “The Summer Vision Project,” Vision Memo No. 100, MIT Artificial Intelligence Group, July 1966.   14.   Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener—Father of Cybernetics (New York: Basic Books, 2005), 321.   15.   Patrick H. Winston, oral history interview, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, 1990, 19.   16.   Conway and Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age, 321.   17.   A. Müller and K. H. Müller, eds., An Unfinished Revolution?


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Protocol: how control exists after decentralization by Alexander R. Galloway

Ada Lovelace, airport security, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Bretton Woods, computer age, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, discovery of DNA, disinformation, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, John Conway, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, linear programming, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, phenotype, post-industrial society, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, semantic web, SETI@home, stem cell, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, The future is already here, the market place, theory of mind, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Yochai Benkler

Kittler’s two ages, symbolized by the two years 1800 and 1900, correspond structurally (but less so chronologically) to the social periodization supplied by Foucault and Deleuze. The passage from the modern disciplinary societies to those of the control societies, as I have already suggested, is the single most important historical transformation in this book. Norbert Wiener is also an important character. His books laid important groundwork for how control works within physical bodies. The provocative but tantalizingly thin Pandemonium: The Rise of Predatory Locales in the Postwar World from architect Branden Hookway, looks at how cybernetic bodies permeate twentieth-century life.

He says as much: “One retains the general form of Marxist analysis . . . , but admits that the classical definition of productive forces is too restricted, so one expands the analysis in terms of productive forces to the whole murky field of signification and communication.”13 While ostensibly non-Marxist, it is worth noting here the work of Norbert Wiener and Vannevar Bush, two of the most important thinkers in the history of computers and electronic media. 9. Enzensberger, “Constituents,” p. 105. 10. Enzensberger, “Constituents,” p. 105. 11. Enzensberger, “Constituents,” p. 121. 12. Jean Baudrillard, “Requiem for the Media,” in Video Culture, ed.

., the emergence of autonomous vital forms appears as a distinct trend in the last two hundred years of contemplative thought. Much work has been done on this subject in the field of epistemology and cognitive science. During a 1959 meeting organized by the New York University Institute of Philosophy entitled “The Dimensions of Mind,” Norbert Wiener and others pondered the epistemological condition of mind in the context of the machine. Later, writers such as Marvin Minsky and Daniel Dennett have considered the theoretical possibilities and limits of computerized thought. Several theories of life are at play in this intellectual milieu. In what might be dubbed the “computers can never do what our brains can do” ideology, Hubert Dreyfus argues that there are theoretical limits to any type of artifi- Chapter 3 102 cial intelligence.72 In a similar vein, Leopoldseder recounts that “[i]n a personal interview, the biophysician and cybernetics researcher Heinz von Foerster—one of the fathers of constructivism—answered the question of whether there is a relation between the human brain and the computer with a ‘yes and no.’


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Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, From Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, assortative mating, business cycle, Claude Shannon: information theory, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, New Economic Geography, Norbert Wiener, p-value, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, price mechanism, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, working-age population

So the knowledge amplification powers of the economy are essential to liberate the creative capacities that allow our species to create new products—which continue to augment us—and endow us with new forms of artistic expression. Our capacity to create products that augment us also helps define the overall complexity of our society. To illustrate this seemingly far-fetched connection, I will move our gaze away from humans and consider instead ant colonies, an example suggested by Norbert Wiener in his 1950 book The Human Use of Human Beings.3 Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics, understood that the ability to embody information outside our bodies is not unique to our species. In fact, our ability to print information in our environment makes us similar to other eusocial species, such as ants. Single ants are not very clever, but their ability to deposit information in the form of pheromones can make ant colonies extremely savvy.

Mathematicians continued to formalize the idea of information, but they framed their efforts in the context of communication technologies, transcending the efforts to decipher intercepted messages. The mathematicians who triumphed became known as the world’s first information theorists or cyberneticists. These pioneers included Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver, Alan Turing, and Norbert Wiener. In the 1950s and 1960s the idea of information took science by storm. Information was welcomed in all academic fields as a powerful concept that cut across scientific boundaries. Information was neither microscopic nor macroscopic.3 It could be inscribed sparsely on clay tablets or packed densely in a strand of DNA.

v=UPNPpdBCqzU. 2. George Johnson, The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments (New York: Knopf, 2008), 76–86. 3. I have taken the liberty of expanding this example substantially, since in Wiener’s book it is not mentioned in a very straightforward way and furthermore is woven into a weird Cold War political argument. Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950). CHAPTER 6: THIS TIME, IT’S PERSONAL 1. The question of which industries locate where and why has given rise to at least four theoretical streams of literature: the literature on industrial clusters, the “new economic geography” (which is the neoclassical stream of this literature), the economic geography literature focusing on institutions and culture, and the evolutionary economic geography literature.


The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel

Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, British Empire, computer age, Copley Medal, creative destruction, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, the market place, upwardly mobile

• • • As a spokesman for the new rigor, Hardy exerted his impact not alone by what he had to say, but through the force, grace, and elegance with which he said it, both in print and in person. In lectures, his enthusiasm and delight in the subject fairly spilled over. “One felt,” wrote one of his later students, E. C. Titchmarsh, “that nothing else in the world but the proof of these theorems really mattered.” Norbert Wiener, the American mathematical prodigy who would later create the field known as “cybernetics,” attended Hardy’s lectures. “In all my years of listening to lectures in mathematics,” he would write, “I have never heard the equal of Hardy for clarity, for interest, or for intellectual power.” Around this time, a pupil of E.

All through Britain, workers struck and militant suffragettes smashed windows. Ireland seethed. But in Cambridge, things were as they always were. Hardy neared his thirty-sixth birthday with his face bearing scarcely a mark of it. He’d visit Bertrand Russell in Nevile’s Court and discuss Bergson and the philosophy of religion; once, Norbert Wiener and his father met him there and took him to be an undergraduate. In 1912, Hardy published nine more papers, including his first collaborative one with Littlewood, “Some Problems of Diophantine Approximation.” His first key paper on Fourier series was coming out later in 1913, the revised edition of his popular textbook the following year.

A plush-lined prison, perhaps, but a prison nonetheless. And while driven back into it by the English reserve, the winter chill, and the dark streets and wartime gloom, he was lured back into it by the delight he got from his work with Hardy. 3. “A SINGULARLY HAPPY COLLABORATION” Mathematician Norbert Wiener would one day note how, in one sense, number theory blurs the border between pure and applied mathematics. In search of concrete applications of pure math, one normally turns to physics, say, or thermodynamics, or chemistry. But the number theorist has a multitude of real-life problems before him always—in the number system itself, a bottomless reservoir of raw data.


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Prisoner's Dilemma: John Von Neumann, Game Theory, and the Puzzle of the Bomb by William Poundstone

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, cuban missile crisis, Douglas Hofstadter, Frank Gehry, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Jacquard loom, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, statistical model, the market place, zero-sum game

There were many small acts of kindness and generosity. In 1946 von Neumann sent $20 to his former teacher Feher upon learning of a financial reverse. In 1954 he asked the institute to transfer $3,500 allocated to him to the visiting Japanese mathematician Hirotada Anzai. Von Neumann nursed a minor feud with mathematician Norbert Wiener. At one lecture of Wiener’s, von Neumann sat up front and noisily read the New York Times. But Wiener was hardly an enemy. Wiener once tried to get the von Neumanns an invitation to visit China, and described them to Yuk Wing Lee of Tsing Hua University in flattering terms (letter dated May 4, 1937, M.I.T.

Another admits: “We both have nasty tempers, but let’s quarrel less. I really love you, and, within the limitations of my horrible nature, I do want to make you happy—as nearly as possible, as much of the time as possible.” What was the horrible nature? In an interview with journalist Steve J. Heims (in John Von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, 1980), Eugene Wigner asserted that “Johnny believed in having sex, in pleasure, but not in emotional attachment. He was interested in immediate pleasures but had little comprehension of emotions in relationships and mostly saw women in terms of their bodies.”

A decade after the publication of Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, there was a correction to the early euphoria. Game theory was deprecated, distrusted, even reviled. To many, game theory, ever intertwined with the figure of John von Neumann, appeared to encapsulate a callous cynicism about the fate of the human race. A few examples will show the severity of this reappraisal. In a 1952 letter to Norbert Wiener, anthropologist Gregory Bateson wrote: What applications of the theory of games do, is to reinforce the players’ acceptance of the rules and competitive premises, and therefore make it more and more difficult for the players to conceive that there might be other ways of meeting and dealing with each other.... its use propagates changes, and I suspect that the long term changes so propagated are in a paranoidal direction and odious.


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The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

1960s counterculture, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, beat the dealer, Bill Atkinson, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Byte Shop, c2.com, call centre, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, desegregation, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Leonard Kleinrock, linear model of innovation, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Terrell, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Yochai Benkler

What made the demonstration exciting was that Stibitz’s computer was sitting at Bell’s building in lower Manhattan, transmitting data over a Teletype line. It was the first computer to be used remotely. For three hours it solved problems submitted by the audience, taking about a minute for each. Among those at the demonstration was Norbert Wiener, a pioneer of information systems, who tried to stump Stibitz’s machine by asking it to divide a number by zero. The machine didn’t fall for the trap. Also present was John von Neumann, the Hungarian polymath who was soon to play a major role with Mauchly in the development of computers.46 When he decided to build a vacuum-tube computer of his own, Mauchly did what good innovators properly do: he drew upon all of the information he had picked up from his travels.

Increasingly interested in the relationship between psychology and technology, how human brains and machines interacted, he moved to MIT to start a psychology section based in the Electrical Engineering Department. At MIT Licklider joined the eclectic circle of engineers, psychologists, and humanists gathered around Professor Norbert Wiener, a theorist who studied how humans and machines worked together and coined the term cybernetics, which described how any system, from a brain to an artillery aiming mechanism, learned through communications, control, and feedback loops. “There was tremendous intellectual ferment in Cambridge after World War II,” Licklider recalled.

“The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly,” he wrote, “and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today.” This sentence bears rereading, because it became one of the seminal concepts of the digital age.22 Licklider sided with Norbert Wiener, whose theory of cybernetics was based on humans and machines working closely together, rather than with their MIT colleagues Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy, whose quest for artificial intelligence involved creating machines that could learn on their own and replicate human cognition. As Licklider explained, the sensible goal was to create an environment in which humans and machines “cooperate in making decisions.”


Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City by Richard Sennett

Buckminster Fuller, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, creative destruction, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Downton Abbey, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Frank Gehry, ghettoisation, housing crisis, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Masdar, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, open borders, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Richard Florida, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, surveillance capitalism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, urban planning, urban renewal, Victor Gruen, Yochai Benkler

Whereas the parts in a non-linear, open system can’t be broken up this way; ‘the whole system has to be examined all at once, as a coherent entity.’ His idea is easy to grasp if you think of chemicals interacting to form a compound: it becomes a new substance of its own.6 Such views had a solid grounding at MIT. The Media Lab was built on the intellectual foundations of the Electronic Systems Laboratory, which Norbert Wiener, arguably the greatest systems analyst of the twentieth century, founded at MIT in the 1940s. Wiener stood on the cusp of an era in which large amounts of information could be digested by machines; he explored different ways to organize the digestive process. He was particularly intrigued by electronic feedback which is complex, ambiguous or contradictory in character rather than straightforward.

By 1934, when Mumford published arguably his best book, Technics and Civilization, he had moved beyond thinking about how to plan a socialist garden city; he pondered how the effort to wrest form out of flux, beginning in the great technological revolution of the seventeenth century, came to influence the machine culture of the twentieth. In Newton’s time, or so Mumford argued, the powers of technology expanded control over the city; now technology has become a self-contained force, displacing people. Mumford knew Norbert Wiener slightly, and admired Wiener’s late criticism of cybernetics; he once said to me in the same vein that Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World should be the bible of every urbanist. In old age, Mumford sunk into bleak pessimism on this account, believing that high tech could not be coupled to socialist politics.

Prescription tells you what is the most efficient route; people neither have to ponder what if it were different nor what is the most experience-rich route. Of course, much of the daily round has to be framed in terms of sheer efficiency. It’s a question of balance: the prescriptive city becomes unbalanced in divorcing functioning from questioning. Norbert Wiener foresaw this danger: in old age he came to fear that his brain-child would prove a monster – ‘big data’ (Wiener coined the term), controlled by ‘Big Brother’, can reduce people’s lives to digital bits of needs and desires serviced by a few monopolies. Tech as Big Brother has perhaps become a cliché, but Wiener feared something deeper: by using machines, people would stop learning.


Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression by Geoff Cox, Alex McLean

4chan, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, bash_history, bitcoin, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Conference 1984, Ian Bogost, Jacques de Vaucanson, Larry Wall, late capitalism, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Slavoj Žižek, social software, social web, software studies, speech recognition, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, Turing machine, Turing test, Vilfredo Pareto, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, Yochai Benkler

See Leo Findeisen, “Some Code to Die For: On the Birth of the Free Software Movement in 1887” (2003; available at http://www.monochrom.at/codetodiefor/). 5. Although the relationship between the study of machines and religious thinking is not the concern of this book, it is worth registering that Norbert Wiener identified commonalities in that machines must learn and reproduce in accordance with what he called the rules of the game, a game increasingly set by the dark forces of informational capitalism and the industrial-military complex. See Norbert Wiener, God and Golem, Inc. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1964). 6. “Twitspeak” is the vernacular form of language used with Twitter, such as the use of hashtags (see http://twitter.com/). 7.

Cullens (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990). (The German title of his book, Aufschreibesysteme [inscription systems], was first used by Daniel Paul Schreber in his Memoirs of My Nervous Illness [1903] to designate how strange heavenly powers were tracking and recording his every move.) 27. Norbert Wiener commented that the accomplishments of artificial intelligence were as “fraudulent” as the chess-playing machine; see his Cybernetics: or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (1948; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1965), 165. 28. Walter Benjamin, “On the Concept of History,” in Benjamin, Selected Writings, vol. 4, 1938– 1940, ed.


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The Cultural Logic of Computation by David Golumbia

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, American ideology, Benoit Mandelbrot, borderless world, business process, cellular automata, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, corporate governance, creative destruction, en.wikipedia.org, finite state, future of work, Google Earth, Howard Zinn, IBM and the Holocaust, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, late capitalism, means of production, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Stallman, semantic web, Shoshana Zuboff, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Stewart Brand, strong AI, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, web application, Yochai Benkler

Following a line of criticism that extends at least as far back as Kant (at least on one interpretation of Kant’s views), and that has recent avatars in figures as diverse as established scholars like Lewis Mumford (1934, 1964), Harold Innis (1950, 1951), Jacques Ellul (1964, 1980, 1990), Joseph Weizenbaum, Martin Heidegger, Norbert Wiener (1954, The Cultural Functions of Computation p5 1964), Terry Winograd, and Theodore Roszak (1986), and more recent writers like Langdon Winner (1977, 1988), Mark Poster (1990, 2000, 2006), Michael Adas, Philip Agre (1997), Christopher May (2002), Kevin Robins and Frank Webster (1999), Alison Adam, McKenzie Wark, Scott Lash (2002), Vincent Mosco, Dan Schiller, Lisa Nakamura, and others discussed below, I argue that computationalism meshes all too easily with the project of instrumental reason.

The book itself begins with Weaver’s famous, (until-then) privately circulated “memorandum” of 1949, here published as “Translation,” and was circulated among many computer scientists of the time who dissented from its conclusions even then.3 At the time Weaver was president of the Rockefeller Foundation, and tried unsuccessfully to enlist major figures like Norbert Wiener, C. K. Ogden, Ivor Richards, Vannevar Bush, and some others in his project (see Hutchins 1986, 25–27). In contemporary histories we are supposed to see these figures as being short-sighted, but it seems equally plausible that they saw the inherent problems in Weaver’s proposal from the outset.

Weaver’s intuition, along with those of his co-researchers at the time, therefore begins from what might be thought an entirely illegitimate analogy, between code and language, that resembles Chomsky’s creation of a language hierarchy, according to which codes are not at all dissimilar from the kind of formal logic systems Chomsky proves are not like human language. Thus it is not at all surprising that intellectuals of Weaver’s day were highly skeptical of his project along lines that Weaver dismisses with a certain amount of hubris. In the 1949 memorandum Weaver quotes correspondence he had with Norbert Wiener (whose own career reveals, in fact, a profound knowledge of and engagement with human language).4 Weaver quotes from a private letter written by Wiener to him in 1947: As to the problem of mechanical translation, I frankly am afraid the boundaries of words in different languages are too vague and the emotional and international connotations are too extensive to make any quasimechanical translation scheme very hopeful . . . .


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Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, bond market vigilante , business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, debt deflation, deskilling, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Sam Peltzman, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tragedy of the Commons, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce

The specter of mass joblessness as machines displaced workers had incited fear many times in the past—going all the way back to Britain’s Luddite uprising in 1812—but in the 1950s and ’60s, the concern was especially acute and was articulated by some of the United States’ most prominent and intellectually capable individuals. In 1949, at the request of the New York Times, Norbert Wiener, an internationally renowned mathematician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote an article describing his vision for the future of computers and automation.5 Wiener had been a child prodigy who entered college at age eleven and completed his PhD when he was just seventeen; he went on to establish the field of cybernetics and made substantial contributions in applied mathematics and to the foundations of computer science, robotics, and computer-controlled automation.

Those who did dare to entertain such thoughts risked being labeled a “neo-Luddite.” Given that the dire circumstances predicted by the Triple Revolution report did not come to pass, we can ask an obvious question: Were the authors of the report definitively wrong? Or did they—like many others before them—simply sound the alarm far too soon? Norbert Wiener, as one of the early pioneers of information technology, perceived the digital computer as being fundamentally different from the mechanical technologies that preceded it. It was a game changer: a new kind of machine with the potential to usher in a new age—and, ultimately, perhaps rend the very fabric of society.

Chapter 3 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: AN UNPRECEDENTED FORCE FOR DISRUPTION Imagine depositing a penny in a bank account. Now, double the account balance every day. On day three you would go from 2 cents to 4 cents. The fifth day would take your balance from 8 to 16 cents. After less than a month, you would have more than a million dollars. If we had deposited that initial penny in 1949, just as Norbert Wiener was writing his essay about the future of computing, and then let Moore’s Law run its course—doubling the amount roughly every two years—by 2015, our technological account would contain nearly $86 million. And as things move forward from this point, that balance will continue to double. Future innovations will be able to leverage that enormous accumulated balance, and as a result the rate of progress in the coming years and decades is likely to far exceed what we have become accustomed to in the past.


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Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, Freestyle chess, Gödel, Escher, Bach, job automation, Leonard Kleinrock, low earth orbit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nate Silver, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, rising living standards, rolodex, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

RISE OF THE CHESS MACHINES In “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess.” Claude Shannon, “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess,” Philosophical Magazine 41, ser. 7, no. 314, March 1950. It was first presented at the National Institute of Radio Engineers Convention, March 9, 1949, New York. This insight echoes Norbert Wiener’s note. Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics or Control and Communication in Animal and Machine (New York, Technology Press, 1948), 193. made an accurately calculated piece sacrifice. Mikhail Tal, The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal (London: RHM, 1976), 64. enough to beat a very weak human player. This was indeed a very optimistic number, and a chess machine wouldn’t reach the speed of analyzing a million moves per second until the 1990s.

Since chess requires thinking, either a chess-playing machine thinks or thinking doesn’t mean what we believe it to mean. I also admire his use of the word “skillful,” since simply memorizing the rules and making random legal moves or regurgitating moves from memory (or a database) isn’t how he defines thinking. This insight echoes Norbert Wiener’s note at the end of his seminal 1948 book, Cybernetics: “Whether it is possible to construct a chess-playing machine, and whether this sort of ability represents an essential difference between the potentialities of the machine and the mind.” Shannon went on to describe the various factors a chess program would need, including the rules, piece values, an evaluation function, and, most critically, the possible search methods a future chess machine could use.

Matthias Wüllenweber and Frans Morsch created ChessBase and Fritz, the programs that defined the computer era of professional chess. Thomas Anantharaman, Murray Campbell, Joseph Hoane, and Feng-hsiung Hsu created Deep Thought at Carnegie Mellon, which turned into Deep Blue at IBM. They deservedly seized the grail dreamt of by Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, and Norbert Wiener, and it was my fortune, not misfortune, to be holding it at the time. My friend Shay Bushinsky and his colleague Amir Ban created the remarkable program Junior, my opponent in my final human-machine match in 2003. In recent years, many experts have had the patience to personally contribute to my education in artificial intelligence and robotics.


pages: 252 words: 74,167

Thinking Machines: The Inside Story of Artificial Intelligence and Our Race to Build the Future by Luke Dormehl

Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Alexey Pajitnov wrote Tetris, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, book scanning, borderless world, call centre, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, drone strike, Elon Musk, Flash crash, friendly AI, game design, global village, Google X / Alphabet X, hive mind, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet of things, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, out of africa, PageRank, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, remote working, RFID, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Before Ktesibios’s clock, only a living thing was thought to be capable of modifying its behaviour according to changes in the environment. After Ktesibios’s clock, self-regulating feedback control systems became a part of our technology. In the twentieth century, an influential AI pioneer named Norbert Wiener worked to formulate mathematical theories around feedback systems. Wiener proposed the idea that intelligent behaviour comes about as the result of receiving and processing information: a concept which came to be known as cybernetics. During World War II, Wiener’s theories regarding feedback systems were refined when he and a colleague named Julian Bigelow worked on a project designed to improve the accuracy of anti-aircraft guns.

It’s a theme since revisited time and again, in everything from the sci-fi stories of Isaac Asimov to the airport thrillers of Michael ‘Jurassic Park’ Crichton to recent movies like Ex Machina. Real scientists didn’t embrace the question quite as rapidly as science-fiction writers, but they weren’t far behind. In 1964, the same year as the New York World’s Fair, cybernetics pioneer Norbert Wiener predicted: ‘The world of the future will be an ever more demanding struggle against the limitations of our own intelligence; not a comfortable hammock in which we can lie down to be waited upon by our robot slaves.’ Wiener passed away in May 1964, aged sixty-nine. However, concerns about superintelligent machines continued.

., ‘Stephen Hawking: “Transcendence Looks at the Implications of Artificial Intelligence … ”’, Independent, 1 May 2014: independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-transcendence-looks-at-the-implications-of-artificial-intelligence-but-are-we-taking-9313474.html 4 Hill, Doug, ‘The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again)’, Atlantic, 11 June 2014: theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/norbert-wiener-the-eccentric-genius-whose-time-may-have-finally-come-again/372607/ 5 Good, I. J., ‘Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine’, Advances in Computers, 1965. 6 Vinge, Vernor, ‘The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era’, Vision-21: Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering in the Era of Cyberspace, 1993. 7 Ulam, Stanislaw, ‘Tribute to John von Neumann,’ Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society: 5, May 1958. 8 Hemingway, Ernest, The Sun Also Rises (New York: Scribner, 1954). 9 Appleyard, Bryan, The Brain Is Wider than the Sky: Why Simple Solutions Don’t Work in a Complex World (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2011). 10 www.youtube.com/watch?


pages: 253 words: 80,074

The Man Who Invented the Computer by Jane Smiley

1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, British Empire, c2.com, computer age, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, IBM and the Holocaust, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Pierre-Simon Laplace, RAND corporation, Turing machine, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture

By mid-1950, Atanasoff felt that his career with the military had reached a dead end, and he was disheartened, too, by the idea that all of his enterprise and inventiveness had gone into making weapons. In the summer of 1949, Turing was interviewed by a newspaper in relation to a dispute between two other men about machine intelligence and the possibility of a machine having a sensibility. The two men were Norbert Wiener, who had just published Cybernetics, and a neurosurgeon, Geoffrey Jefferson, who gave a speech that attempted to debunk any ideas that a machine could have emotions or self-consciousness and could, therefore, be said to think in a human way (Jefferson was a pioneer of the frontal lobotomy). When Turing was interviewed by the Times (London), he declared that “the university [of Manchester] was really interested in the investigation of the possibilities of machines for their own sake.”

Back in the summer of 1946, when Atanasoff was told that the navy computer project was off, he was not told why, but part of the reason was that in late 1945, the very well connected John von Neumann had entertained letters of interest from the University of Chicago and MIT, with further feelers from Harvard and Columbia. Von Neumann was drawn to Princeton even though, as the letter from Norbert Wiener of MIT (soon to get in trouble with Dr. Jefferson) predicted, the problem that would plague the development of the IAS computer was that at “the Princestitute [the Institute for Advanced Studies] … you are going to run into a situation where you will need a lab at your fingertips, and labs don’t grow in ivory towers.”

Unable to get Eckert, von Neumann hired an engineer named Julian Bigelow to put together the IAS computer, thinking that the project would take ten people about three years. But von Neumann could not work with Bigelow, who, he felt, tended to go down blind alleys, trying things without a good sense ahead of time of how those ideas would work. And Norbert Wiener turned out to be correct about the lack of receptivity at the IAS toward the computer project. It was housed in a boiler room and then an outbuilding, and even then there were complaints about it from the other scholars. Work that was farmed out went to corporations that didn’t know what was really wanted.


pages: 308 words: 85,880

How to Fix the Future: Staying Human in the Digital Age by Andrew Keen

23andMe, Ada Lovelace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, digital map, disinformation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, Filter Bubble, Firefox, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, income inequality, independent contractor, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Parag Khanna, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, precariat, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, surveillance capitalism, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, the High Line, the new new thing, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, Yogi Berra, Zipcar

The word “cyberspace” was coined by the science fiction writer William Gibson in his 1984 novel Neuromancer and was invented to describe a new realm of communication among personal computers such as the Apple Macintosh. Gibson adapted it from the word “cybernetics,” a science of networked communications invented by the mid-twentieth-century Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) mathematician Norbert Wiener. And Wiener named his new science of connectivity after the ancient Greek word kybernetes, meaning a steersman or a pilot. It was no coincidence that Wiener—who, along with fellow MIT alumni Vannevar Bush and J.C.R. Lick-lider,1 is considered a father of the internet—chose to name his new science after kybernetes.

He then ran technology at the multinational media conglomerate Time Warner before founding Betaworks in 2008, and there he’s made his fortune investing in multibillion-dollar hits such as Twitter and Airbnb. “I fell in love with the idea of the internet,” Borthwick says, explaining why he became an internet entrepreneur, articulating the same faith as such mid-twentieth-century pioneers as Norbert Wiener that networked technology could pilot us to a better world. It was the idea that a new networked world could be better than the old industrial one. The idea that the internet could transform society by making it more open, more innovative, and more democratic. Over the last quarter century, however, Borthwick’s youthful faith in this idea has evolved into a more ambivalent attitude toward the transformative power of digital technology.

Private Superpowers: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse In 2015, I published my third book, The Internet Is Not the Answer,15 a work that addressed the skewed distribution of power and wealth in the network age. The tragedy of today’s digital revolution, I argued, is that the ideals of digital pioneers like Norbert Wiener, Tim Berners-Lee, Brewster Kahle, and Jimmy Wales—democracy, equality, enlightenment, freedom, universality, transparency, accountability, above all public space—have not, so far at least, been realized. Instead of Berners-Lee’s public World Wide Web, the online revolution has been appropriated by Garton Ash’s private Silicon Valley superpowers.


pages: 347 words: 97,721

Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby

AI winter, Andy Kessler, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, commoditize, conceptual framework, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, fixed income, follow your passion, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, game design, general-purpose programming language, global pandemic, Google Glasses, Hans Lippershey, haute cuisine, income inequality, independent contractor, index fund, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, lifelogging, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter Thiel, precariat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, robotic process automation, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Works Progress Administration, Zipcar

Also accept that some advantages are temporary; as machines keep getting better at certain tasks, today’s safe ground might be eroding very quickly under your feet. The question of what humans are good for is one that has been taken up by various thinkers since machines first showed glimmers of “intelligence.” The legendary Norbert Wiener, who published The Human Use of Human Beings in 1950, established a starting point for the discussion. While his objective was mainly to show how advancing automation could and must enable humans to embrace their humanity more, and he wasn’t as concerned with defining those human attributes too tightly, he did point to creativity and spirituality as parts of the human condition that machines do not share.

In 1962 he published a widely circulated paper: “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.”4 He even founded an Augmentation Research Center, which in 1969, by the way, constituted one end of the first Internet link ever made. (The University of California, Los Angeles, was the other end.) Jobs borrowed not only Engelbart’s interface ideas, but also his desire to create “wheels for the mind.” Going back further, Norbert Wiener, the MIT colleague of Vannevar Bush whom we mentioned earlier as the author of The Human Use of Human Beings, was expressing his hope already in 1950 that machines would free people from the drudgery of repetitive industrial work so that they could focus on more creative pursuits. Computers (or as he styled them, “computing machines”—the word “computer” referred then, even in an MIT professor’s writing, to the humans hired to perform calculations) had only recently proved their value by performing mathematical functions quickly and accurately, but it was easy to speculate that they would in time exceed humans’ intellect in other ways.

Engelbart, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework,” SRI Summary Report AFOSR-3223, prepared for Director of Information Sciences, Air Force, Office of Scientific Research, Washington 25, DC, Contract AF 49(638)-1024, SRI Project No. 3578 (AUGMENT,3906), October 1962, http://insitu.lri.fr/~mbl/ENS/FONDIHM/2012/papers/Englebart-Augmenting62.pdf. 5. Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (New York: Da Capo Press, 1988), 159. 6. Maddy Myers, “Google Glass: Inspired by Terminator,” Slice of MIT, May 30, 2013, https://slice.mit.edu/2013/05/30/google-glass-inspired-by-terminator/. 7. David Scott, remarks at the opening of the Computer Museum, June 10, 1982, transcript accessed October 29, 2015, http://klabs.org/history/history_docs/ech/agc_scott.pdf. 8.


pages: 208 words: 57,602

Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation by Kevin Roose

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic bias, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, automated trading system, basic income, Bayesian statistics, big-box store, business process, call centre, choice architecture, coronavirus, Covid-19, COVID-19, disinformation, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Freestyle chess, future of work, gig economy, Google Hangouts, hiring and firing, hustle culture, income inequality, industrial robot, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, Lyft, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta-analysis, Narrative Science, new economy, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Productivity paradox, QAnon, recommendation engine, remote working, risk tolerance, robotic process automation, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, surveillance capitalism, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Likewise, I will keep my earnest use of “robot”—a term many engineers hate, because it’s been tainted by sci-fi movies and can be used to describe everything from droids to dishwashers—to a minimum. Part I The Machines One Birth of a Suboptimist The machine’s danger to society is not from the machine itself but from what man makes of it. —Norbert Wiener The lights dimmed, a guitar lick boomed over the speakers, and a screen behind the stage lit up with the names of robots. Infosec Auditor Bot—Accenture Turbo Extractor Bot—Kraft Heinz Web Monitor Bot—Infosys It was April 2019, and I was in a hotel ballroom in Manhattan, watching a Silicon Valley start-up called Automation Anywhere show off its latest products to a few hundred corporate executives.

A great primer, written by a prominent AI researcher, and one of the only books about machine learning that has ever made me laugh. Future Shock by Alvin Toffler (1970). The book that kicked off the futurist craze, and still one of the best examples of writing about the psychological effects of technological change. The Human Use of Human Beings by Norbert Wiener (1950). An examination of the morality of machines, written by one of my all-time favorite technological thinkers. In the Age of the Smart Machine by Shoshana Zuboff (1988). Zuboff is better known these days as the author of Surveillance Capitalism, but her earlier book was a prescient look at the future of work during the first IT boom of the 1980s.


From Satori to Silicon Valley: San Francisco and the American Counterculture by Theodore Roszak

Buckminster Fuller, germ theory of disease, global village, Haight Ashbury, Internet Archive, Marshall McLuhan, megastructure, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, Silicon Valley, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog

Similarly, if Catalog, we can we turn back to the same hybrid find the and side the rustic skills tools, we Whole Earth taste. Along- discover high and instruments: stereo systems, industrial techniques cameras, cinematography, and, of course, computers. On one page the "Manifesto of the Mad Farmer Liberation Front" (Wendell Berry's plea for family-scaled organic agriculture); on the next, Norbert Wiener's cybernetics. when tried I to first I recall noticed restrain my how it. this But then doubts. juxtaposition jarred I thought again and There was, after all, something charming about the blithe eclecticism of this worldview. Granted that a catalog is by its very nature a melange.


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Memory Machines: The Evolution of Hypertext by Belinda Barnet

augmented reality, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Duvall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, game design, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, Ian Bogost, information retrieval, Internet Archive, John Markoff, linked data, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, publish or perish, Robert Metcalfe, semantic web, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, Vannevar Bush, wikimedia commons

As Bardini points out, his tool and human systems ‘communicate’ via a process of ‘feedback’ (Bardini 2000, 34), a fundamentally systemic process. Humans and technical machines are also articulated together as different kinds of systems – one of the hallmarks of cybernetics (Hayles 1999). This is not surprising; cybernetics influenced most engineers working in the 1950s (Bardini 2000). Like Norbert Wiener, Engelbart also has a systemic explanation for social structures and for life itself, a theory for the co-evolution of humans and technics. But for Engelbart, this is an unbalanced evolution; until now, it has been the tool system that has been driving human beings. The tool system moves faster than the human system, and it takes a lot of time (sometimes generations) before we can develop the appropriate human infrastructure to deal with changes.

At the moment it is an unbalanced evolution, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Changing the relationship in favour of human beings is possible. More deeply, this implies that Doug’s revolution requires a reversal of the current relationship between humans and technology; we need to be back in the driver’s seat.3 Hayles (1999) locates a similar contradiction in Norbert Wiener’s work. AUGMENTING THE INTELLECT: NLS 41 In particular, Engelbart feels we need to create tool systems that help us deal with knowledge work in a more effective way. This objective is something he claims he inherited from Bush’s 1945 paper, ‘As We May Think’ (Engelbart 1962), and it formed the basis of the ‘Conceptual Framework for Augmenting Man’s Intellect’ he would later erect to explain and support the development of the oN-Line System (NLS), a prototype hypertext system.


pages: 252 words: 79,452

To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Picking Challenge, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, cosmological principle, dark matter, disruptive innovation, double helix, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Extropian, friendly AI, global pandemic, impulse control, income inequality, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mars Rover, means of production, Norbert Wiener, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, San Francisco homelessness, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, uber lyft, Vernor Vinge

Pretty much the first thing he did upon sitting me down was to open his laptop and turn it around toward me—a courtly gesture, oddly reminiscent of the serving of tea—so that I could read a few paragraphs of a paper called “Some Moral and Technical Consequences of Automation,” by the cybernetics founder Norbert Wiener. The paper, originally published in the journal Science in 1960, was a brief exploration of the tendency of machines to develop, as they begin to learn, “unforeseen strategies at rates that baffle their programmers.” Stuart, an Englishman who radiated an aura of genial academic irony, directed me toward the last page of the paper, and sat in contemplative silence as I read on his screen the following passage: “If we use, to achieve our purposes, a mechanical agency with whose operation we cannot efficiently interfere once we have started it because the action is so fast and irrevocable that we have not the data to intervene before the action is complete, then we had better be quite sure that the purpose put into the machine is the purpose which we really desire and not merely a colorful imitation of it.”

If we want to be more than mere animals, we need to embrace technology’s potential to make us machines. The idea of the cyborg is mostly associated with science fiction—with Philip K. Dick and William Gibson, with RoboCop and The Six Million Dollar Man—but its origins are in the postwar field of cybernetics, which its founder, Norbert Wiener, defined as “the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the machine or in the animal.” In the posthumanist vision of cybernetics, human beings were not individuals acting autonomously toward their own ends, free agents in pursuit of their destinies, but machines acting within the deterministic logic of larger machines, biological components of vast and complex systems.


pages: 1,136 words: 73,489

Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software by Nadia Eghbal

Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), bitcoin, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, commoditize, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, death of newspapers, Debian, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, Firefox, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, Induced demand, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kubernetes, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Network effects, node package manager, Norbert Wiener, pirate software, pull request, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Ruby on Rails, side project, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, two-sided market, urban planning, web application, wikimedia commons, Yochai Benkler, Zimmermann PGP

I’m not threatening, just saying,”197 another user responded with amusement: “Forking is one thing, maintaining is another ;).”198 Denis Pushkarev, the project’s maintainer, chimed in, “Feel free to fork and maintain it - I will only be glad that core-js maintenance now it’s [sic] not my problem.”199 Maintenance costs make the difference between “forking as a credible threat” and “forking as a desirable outcome.” Code, while it’s being traded, appraised, or exchanged, assumes its static form, with all the properties that we’d expect of a commodity. But once it finds users, code springs to life, switching to an active state and incurring hidden costs. To quote Norbert Wiener, the mathematician who pioneered the field of cybernetics, “Information and entropy are not conserved, and are equally unsuited to being commodities.”200 THE HIDDEN COSTS OF SOFTWARE We can think about software as having three major types of costs: creation, distribution, and maintenance.201 Creation is frequently powered by intrinsic motivation.

.,” Core-js Issues comment, GitHub, June 13, 2019, https://github.com/zloirock/core-js/issues/571#issuecomment-501889710. 199 Denis Pushkarev (zloirock), “@revelt please, don’t say me what I should do . . .,” Core-js Issues comment, GitHub, June 14, 2019, https://github.com/zloirock/core-js/issues/571#issuecomment-502040557. 200 Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1950), 129. 201 Spencer Heath MacCallum, The Art of Community (Menlo Park, CA: Institute for Humane Studies, 1970), 48. 202 David Heinemeier Hansson, “Open Source beyond the Market,” Signal v. Noise, May 20, 2019, https://m.signalvnoise.com/open-source-beyond-the-market. 203 David Bollier, “The Growth of the Commons Paradigm,” in Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice, eds.


pages: 360 words: 85,321

The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling by Adam Kucharski

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, butterfly effect, call centre, Chance favours the prepared mind, Claude Shannon: information theory, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, diversification, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Thorp, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Flash crash, Gerolamo Cardano, Henri Poincaré, Hibernia Atlantic: Project Express, if you build it, they will come, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, locking in a profit, Louis Pasteur, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, p-value, performance metric, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, statistical model, The Design of Experiments, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

So, instead we approximate the process and assume it is unpredictable. We choose to simplify an intricate physical process for the sake of convenience. In life, we must often choose (either consciously or subconsciously) what abstractions to use. The most extensive abstraction would not omit a single detail. As mathematician Norbert Wiener said, “The best material model of a cat is another, or preferably the same, cat.” Capturing the world in such detail is rarely practical, so instead we must strip away certain features. However, the resulting abstraction is our model of reality, influenced by our beliefs and prejudices. Sometimes abstractions have tried to deliberately influence people’s perceptions.

“Picasso’s Lithograph(s) ‘The Bull(s)’ and the History of Art in Reverse” Art Without History, 75th Annual Meeting, College Art Association of America, February 12–14, 1987. 210Einstein once said of scientific models: Quoted by Sugihara, George. “On Early Warning Signs.” Seed Magazine, May 2013. http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_early_warning_signs/. 211“The best material model of a cat”: Widely attributed to Wiener. Quote appears in: Rosenblueth, Arturo, and Norbert Wiener. “The Role of Models in Science.” Philosophy of Science 12, no. 4 (1945): 316–321. 211In 1947, Time magazine published: Chapin, R. M. “Communist Contagion.” Time, April 1946. http://claver.gprep.org/fac/sjochs/communist-contagion-map.htm. 211a piece called “Europe from Moscow”: Chapin, R. M.


Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism by Quinn Slobodian

Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, central bank independence, collective bargaining, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, floating exchange rates, full employment, Garrett Hardin, Gunnar Myrdal, Hernando de Soto, invisible hand, liberal capitalism, liberal world order, Mahbub ul Haq, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mercator projection, Mont Pelerin Society, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Pearl River Delta, Philip Mirowski, price mechanism, quantitative easing, random walk, rent control, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, special economic zone, statistical model, The Chicago School, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, urban renewal, Washington Consensus, Wolfgang Streeck, zero-sum game

(Three volumes published in one, with corrections and revised preface.) Philip Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (New York: Verso, 2013), 54. Peter Galison, “The Ontology of the ­Enemy: Norbert Wiener and the Cybernetic Vision,” Critical Inquiry 21, no. 1 (Autumn 1994): 232. See Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1948). F. A. Hayek, “Degrees of Explanation (1955),” in Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, ed. F. A. Hayek (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967), 19. 348 NOTES TO PAGES 226–230 40.

Indeed, while Hayek disparaged the ­application of computers to economic policy, he offered, as scholars 226 GLOBALISTS have observed, a vision of the world economy itself as an enormous information pro­cessor beyond the capacity of the h ­ uman mind to e­ ither manufacture or comprehend.37 Cybernetics has its origins in the military research of self-­regulating systems during the Second World War, specifically the design of antiaircraft guns with so-­called servomechanisms that could follow a target without ­human guidance. It is most associated with Norbert Wiener, who coined the term in 1947 and helped pop­u­lar­ized it with his widely read book.38 Yet despite the association of cybernetics with what Wiener called “communication and control,” and the possibility of total oversight within a closed system, Hayek’s approach was to see cybernetics as a h ­ umble science, eschewing omniscience to identify rules of action and reaction at the micro level, which one could only extrapolate to the macro.


pages: 467 words: 149,632

If Then: How Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future by Jill Lepore

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, anti-communist, Buckminster Fuller, computer age, coronavirus, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, game design, George Gilder, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, Howard Zinn, index card, information retrieval, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Jeffrey Epstein, job automation, land reform, linear programming, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, packet switching, Peter Thiel, profit motive, RAND corporation, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, urban renewal, War on Poverty, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog

“One of the war’s top secrets, an amazing machine which applies electronic speeds for the first time to mathematical tasks hitherto too difficult and cumbersome for solution, was announced here tonight by the War Department,” reported the New York Times, in a front-page story that included a photograph of a thirty-ton machine the size of a room.5 A newsreel called it the world’s first “giant electronic brain.”6 It wasn’t only reporters who likened the new machines to the human brain. In 1948, the MIT mathematician Norbert Wiener published a book called Cybernetics, in which he compared the nervous systems of living things with the automatic control systems of machines.7 At Remington Rand, Hopper devised the first “compiler,” which allowed programmers to write code in something close to English.8 In an essay called “The Education of a Computer,” Hopper reported that “it is the current aim to replace, as far as possible, the human brain by an electronic digital computer.”9 Remington Rand unveiled the UNIVAC in 1951, but the machine made its real public debut on Election Night 1952, when CBS News commissioned it to predict the outcome of the election.

“It will be a narrative history telling of the key decisions and will describe the basic forces and background of the primary and election campaigns,” the New York Times reported about The Making of the President 1960.22 Pool planned a different sort of book. He had a few ideas for what to call it, including the tidy 1960 and the aspirational The People Decide.23 Morgan told him he ought to call it, simply, Simulmatics, an echo of Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics.24 By January, between Pool’s trumpeting of Simulmatics to reporters, Morgan’s essay in Harper’s, the radio coverage, and the wire service reports, news that a top secret robot had rigged the 1960 election was eliciting editorials, too. “Mouth more or less agape and breath more or less bated, we have been reading how by ‘simulmatics’ this marvelous contrivance gave young Mr.

Elizabeth Bernstein Rand, interview with the author, August 20, 2018. “Don’t Pity the Liberal Arts Grads—They’re Bossing the Engineers,” Hartford Courant, February 13, 1962. T. R. Kennedy Jr., “Electronic Computer Flashes Answers, May Speed Engineering,” NYT, February 15, 1946. See my discussion in These Truths, 557–65. Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics (New York: Wiley, 1948). Clive Thompson, “The Secret History of Women in Coding,” NYT, February 13, 2019. Grace Hopper, “The Education of a Computer [1952],” Annals of the History of Computing 9 (1988): 272. Louis Hyman, Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary (New York: Viking, 2018), 127.


pages: 761 words: 231,902

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

additive manufacturing, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business cycle, business intelligence, c2.com, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, coronavirus, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, factory automation, friendly AI, functional programming, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mitch Kapor, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Rodney Brooks, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, two and twenty, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

In his hypothesis there is a digital basic for apparently analog phenomena (such as motion and time) and for formulas in physics, and we can model our understanding of physics as the simple transformation of a cellular automaton. Others have proposed this possibility. Richard Feynman wondered about it in considering the relationship of information to matter and energy. Norbert Wiener heralded a fundamental change in focus from energy to information in his 1948 book Cybernetic and suggested that the transformation of information, not energy, was the fundamental building block of the universe.60 Perhaps the first to postulate that the universe is being computed on a digital computer was Konrad Zuse in 1967.61 Zuse is best known as the inventor of the first working programmable computer, which he developed from 1935 to 1941.

The system is almost as accurate as I would be and much faster. Markov Models. Another method that is good at applying probabilistic networks to complex sequences of information involves Markov models.170 Andrei Andreyevich Markov (1856–1922), a renowned mathematician, established a theory of "Markov chains," which was refined by Norbert Wiener (1894–1964) in 1923. The theory provided a method to evaluate the likelihood that a certain sequence of events would occur. It has been popular, for example, in speech recognition, in which the sequential events are phonemes (parts of speech). The Markov models used in speech recognition code the likelihood that specific patterns of sound are found in each phoneme, how the phonemes influence each other, and likely orders of phonemes.

See the classic article Edward Fredkin and Tommaso Toffoli, "Conservative Logic," International Journal of Theoretical Physics 21.3–4 (l982): 219–53, http://www.digitalphilosophy.org/download_documents/ConservativeLogic.pdf. Also, a set of concerns about the physics of computation analytically similar to those of Fredkin's may be found in Norman Margolus, "Physics and Computation," Ph.D. thesis, MIT/LCS/TR-415, MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, 1988. 65. I discussed Norbert Wiener and Ed Fredkin's view of information as the fundamental building block for physics and other levels of reality in my 1990 book, The Age of Intelligent Machines. The complexity of casting all of physics in terms of computational transformations proved to be an immensely challenging project, but Fredkin has continued his efforts.


pages: 299 words: 99,080

The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder

carbon-based life, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Mason jar, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, post-industrial society, silicon-based life

There were Datum, Data Pro and Data I/O, Tri Data, Epic Data, Facit Data, Control Data, Decision Data, Data General and Data Specialties. And we didn't have time even to glance at the wares of Itek, Pertec, Mostek, Wavetek, Intertek, Ramtek ... Ah, Ramtek. "In 'seventy-three," said Wallach, "there were two floors, and now there are four floors and it's just as crowded." Norbert Wiener coined the term cybernetics in order to describe the study of "control and communication in the animal and the machine." In 1947 he wrote that because of the development of the "ultra-rapid computing machine,... the average human being of mediocre attainments or less" might end up having "nothing to sell that is worth anyone's money to buy."

Which is it, though: the technology or the way people use it? Who controls this technology? Can it be controlled? Jacques Ellul, throwing up his hands, wrote that technology operates by its own terrible laws, alterable by no human action except complete abandonment of technique. More sensible, I think, Norbert Wiener, prophesied that the computer would offer "unbounded possibilities for good and for evil," and he advanced, faintly, the hope that the contributors to this new science would nudge it in a humane direction. But he also invoked the fear that its development would fall "into the hands of the most irresponsible and venal of our engineers."


pages: 326 words: 103,170

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, defense in depth, Deng Xiaoping, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Firefox, Google Chrome, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, market bubble, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, packet switching, Paul Graham, price stability, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Vernor Vinge, zero day

But at the center it is dense, still, and even quiet, with the silently cranking algorithms of massively concentrated power. Yin. In fact, this debate hovers at the dawn of the network revolution. The computer-science pioneer Claude Shannon saw information in 1949 as pulsing with the instability of an entropic system. Yang. The machine architect Norbert Wiener, writing at nearly the same moment in 1948, saw the digital age differently, as an expression of stability and structure. Yin. His vision for a digital order, what he called cybernetics, emerged from the Greek concept of kibernetes—the orderly steering of a ship through sometimes chaotic waters.

Balasubramaniam, and Yevgeni Koucheryavy, “The Internet of Bio-Nano Things,” IEEE Communications Magazine 53, no. 3 (March 2015): 32–40. The computer-science pioneer: See David Bawden and Lyn Robinson, “Waiting for Carnot: Information and Complexity,” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 66, no. 11 (November 2015): 2177–86; Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics; or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1948); Warren Weaver, “Science and Complexity,” American Scientist 36, no. 4 (October 1948): 536–44. They are ordered: Carlos Gershenson, Péter Csermely, Péter Érdi, “The Past, Present and Future of Cybernetics and Systems Research,” arXiv:1308.6317v3, September 23, 2013.


pages: 372 words: 101,174

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray Kurzweil

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anesthesia awareness, anthropic principle, brain emulation, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, computer age, Dean Kamen, discovery of DNA, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, George Gilder, Google Earth, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, linear programming, Loebner Prize, mandelbrot fractal, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

The metaphorical leaps that we consider of significance tend to take place in the interstices of different disciplines. Working against this essential force of creativity, however, is the pervasive trend toward ever greater specialization in the sciences (and just about every other field as well). As American mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894–1964) wrote in his seminal book Cybernetics, published the year I was born (1948): There are fields of scientific work, as we shall see in the body of this book, which have been explored from the different sides of pure mathematics, statistics, electrical engineering, and neurophysiology; in which every single notion receives a separate name from each group, and in which important work has been triplicated or quadruplicated, while still other important work is delayed by the unavailability in one field of results that may have already become classical in the next field.

He went on to hypothesize a situation in which a system has such a hierarchy of linear sequences of states, but those are unable to be directly examined—hence the name hidden Markov models. The lowest level of the hierarchy emits signals, which are all we are allowed to see. Markov provides a mathematical technique to compute what the probabilities of each transition must be based on the observed output. The method was subsequently refined by Norbert Wiener in 1923. Wiener’s refinement also provided a way to determine the connections in the Markov model; essentially any connection with too low a probability was considered not to exist. This is essentially how the human neocortex trims connections—if they are rarely or never used, they are considered unlikely and are pruned away.


The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can't Think the Way We Do by Erik J. Larson

AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, Black Swan, Boeing 737 MAX, business intelligence, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, Elon Musk, Ernest Rutherford, Filter Bubble, Georg Cantor, hive mind, ImageNet competition, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Loebner Prize, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, retrograde motion, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Yochai Benkler

Billionaire tech entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel remarked recently that innovations seem to be drying up, not accelerating.1 Tech startups once dreamed of the next big idea to woo investors in the Valley, but now have exit strategies that almost universally aim for acquisitions by big tech companies like Google and Facebook, who have a lock on innovation anyway, since Big Data AI always works better for whoever owns the most data. The fix is in. The question is ­whether, as Thiel puts it, ­there is now a “derangement of the culture,” or w ­ hether the good ideas have already been 2 snatched up. M EG A BUCK SCI ENCE The polymathic MIT computer scientist and founder of cybernetics Norbert Wiener warned about what he called “megabuck” science in an unpublished manuscript, “Invention: The Care and Feeding of 270 T he F ­ uture of the M yth Ideas,” found among his papers ­a fter his death in 1964.3 In the early 1950s, Turing had completed his fundamental (and it turned out, final) turn t­ oward the f­ uture of invention as human-­level AI; Wiener during the same period had begun serious contemplation about a ­f uture bereft of ideas necessary for AI, and other fields.

Yong, “The H ­ uman Brain Proj­ect ­Hasn’t Lived Up.” Chapter 18: The End of Science? 1. Peter Thiel, interviewed by Eric Weinstein on “The Portal” podcast, Episode #001: “An Era of Stagnation & Universal Institutional Failure,” July 19, 2019, https://­w ww​.­youtube​.­com​/­watch​?­v​=­n M9f0W2KD5s&t​=­1216s. 2. Ibid. 3. Norbert Wiener, Invention: The Care and Feeding of Ideas (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994). 4. Ibid., 89. 5. Ibid., 96. 6. Ibid., 96. 7. Ibid., 87. 8. Ibid., 87. 9. John Horgan, The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age (Boston: Addison-­Wesley, 1996). A C K N O W L­E D G M E N T S Many ­people ­were involved both formally and informally in the creation of this book.


pages: 418 words: 102,597

Being You: A New Science of Consciousness by Anil Seth

artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, backpropagation, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, computer vision, coronavirus, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, Filter Bubble, John Markoff, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, speech recognition, stem cell, technological singularity, telepresence, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Turing test

— In the 1950s, at the dawn of the computer age, the emerging disciplines of cybernetics and artificial intelligence (AI) were equally promising and in many ways inseparable. Cybernetics – from the Greek kybernetes, meaning ‘steersman’ or ‘governor’ – was described by one of its founders, the mathematician Norbert Wiener, as ‘the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine’. The emphasis of cybernetics was squarely on control, and its primary applications were in systems – such as guided missiles – that involved closed-loop feedback from output to input. One conspicuous feature of this approach was that such systems could appear to have ‘purposes’ or ‘goals’, like hitting a target.

This view of consciousness and human nature does not exclude the possibility of conscious machines, but it does undercut the amped-up techno-rapture narrative of soon-to-be-sentient computers that propels our fears and permeates our dreams. From the beast machine perspective, the quest to understand consciousness places us increasingly within nature, not further apart from it. Just as it should. Notes a golem: In his 1964 book God and Golem, Inc., the polymathic pioneer Norbert Wiener treated golems as central to his speculations about risks of future AI. vast mound of paperclips: In the parable of the paperclip maximiser, an AI is designed to make as many paperclips as possible. Because this AI lacks human values but is otherwise very smart, it destroys the world in its successful attempt to do so.


pages: 394 words: 108,215

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, back-to-the-land, beat the dealer, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, California gold rush, card file, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, different worldview, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Thorp, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, general-purpose programming language, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, hypertext link, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, Jeff Rulifson, John Markoff, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mahatma Gandhi, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Robert X Cringely, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Hackers Conference, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, union organizing, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

In the early sixties, he was running a research program on computing at NASA headquarters. Although he was not a computer scientist, Taylor had read widely in the literature about the interaction of humans and computers. He had also been intrigued by Vannevar Bush’s Atlantic article when he was in college and had read the work of cyberneticist Norbert Wiener. Most important, however, was that he knew J. C. R. Licklider, who was a leading researcher in the area of psychoacoustics and a close friend of Taylor’s thesis adviser at Texas. Beginning in 1960, Licklider had sketched out a vision that closely paralleled Engelbart’s in a paper entitled “Man-Computer Symbiosis.”

It was the second half of the short introduction that neatly captured the various threads that would soon come together to liberate the computer from large, impersonal institutions: “a realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the WHOLE EARTH CATALOG.” In the first catalog, there wasn’t much computing power to tap into. The HP 9100A calculator, referred to as a computer on the title page, was given a glowing review; Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics and the September 1966 Scientific American issue on information were also reviewed. The scarcity of material in this particular area didn’t matter; the principle of valued tools controlled by the individual was established firmly. On the verge of publishing the first Catalog the following month, Brand saw himself not so much as an entrepreneur but as an artist who was exploring new media, and he was immediately struck by the possibilities of computers that were moving beyond being calculators.


pages: 389 words: 109,207

Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street by William Poundstone

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, asset allocation, Bear Stearns, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, buy and hold, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, correlation coefficient, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, high net worth, index fund, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Myron Scholes, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, publish or perish, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, risk free rate, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, short selling, speech recognition, statistical arbitrage, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, traveling salesman, value at risk, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

It has been claimed that this was the most important master’s thesis of all time. Vannevar Bush was so impressed that he insisted that the mathematics department accept Shannon for his doctoral work. The result was too momentous to be “mere” electrical engineering. Bush’s mercurial colleague Norbert Wiener was equally impressed. (When Wiener got upset with someone, which was often, he sometimes wrote an unflattering caricature of the person into a private, forever-unpublished novel. Bush was the villain of one of these novels.) Wiener realized the superiority of Shannon’s digital computation to that in Bush’s analog computer.

Shannon came to feel that information theory had been over-sold. In a 1956 editorial he gently derided the information theory “bandwagon.” People who did not understand the theory deeply were seizing on it as a trendy metaphor and overstating its relevance to fields remote from its origin. Other theorists such as Norbert Wiener and Peter Elias took up this theme. It was time, Elias acidly wrote, to stop publishing papers with titles like “Information Theory, Photosynthesis, and Religion.” To Shannon, Wiener, and Elias, the question of information theory’s relevance was more narrowly defined than it was for Marshall McLuhan.


The Deep Learning Revolution (The MIT Press) by Terrence J. Sejnowski

AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic bias, algorithmic trading, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bioinformatics, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Conway's Game of Life, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, delayed gratification, discovery of DNA, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, Frank Gehry, future of work, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Guggenheim Bilbao, Gödel, Escher, Bach, haute couture, Henri Poincaré, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, Minecraft, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Norbert Wiener, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, PageRank, pattern recognition, prediction markets, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Socratic dialogue, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra

Yes, it is true that a Turing machine can compute any computable function given enough memory and enough time, but nature had to solve problems in real The Dawn of Neural Networks 39 time. To do this, it made use of the brain’s neural networks that, like the most powerful computers on the planet, have massively parallel processors. Algorithms that run efficiently on them will eventually win out. Early Pioneers In the 1950s and 1960s, shortly after Norbert Wiener introduced cybernetics, based on communications and control systems in both machines and living creatures,3 there was an explosion of interest in self-organizing systems. As a small sample of the ingenious creations that explosion gave rise to, Oliver Selfridge created Pandemonium,4 a pattern recognition device in which feature-detecting “demons” vied with one another for the right to represent objects in images (a metaphor for deep learning; figure 3.3); and Bernard Widrow and his student Ted Hoff at Stanford invented the LMS (least mean squares) learning algorithm,5 which, along with its successors, is used extensively for adaptive signal processing in numerous applications from noise cancellation to financial forecasting.

At a local level, differences in cellular properties and connectivity are found between different parts of the cortex, which presumably reflect specialization for different sensory systems and different levels in the hierarchies. 2. P. C. Wason, “Self-Contradictions,” in P. N. Johnson-Laird and P. C. Wason, eds., Thinking: Readings in Cognitive Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977). 3. Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1948). 4. O. G. Selfridge, “Pandemonium: A Paradigm for Learning,” in D. V. Blake and A. M. Uttley, eds., Proceedings of the Symposium on Mechanisation of Thought Processes (1959): 511–529. Notes 291 5.


pages: 137 words: 36,231

Information: A Very Short Introduction by Luciano Floridi

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, carbon footprint, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, disinformation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Internet of things, invention of writing, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Laplace demon, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Nelson Mandela, Norbert Wiener, Pareto efficiency, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, RFID, Thomas Bayes, Turing machine, Vilfredo Pareto

Indeed, the classic debate on the ultimate nature of reality could be reconstructed in terms of the possible interpretations of that principle. All this explains why the physics of information is consistent with two slogans, this time popular among scientists, both favourable to the proto-physical nature of information. The first is by Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), the father of cybernetics: `information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.' The other is by John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008), a very eminent physicist, who coined the expression `it from bit' to indicate that the ultimate nature of physical reality, the `it', is informational, comes from the `bit'.


pages: 379 words: 113,656

Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age by Duncan J. Watts

Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business process, corporate governance, Drosophila, Erdős number, experimental subject, fixed income, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, independent contractor, industrial cluster, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Milgram experiment, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Savings and loan crisis, scientific worldview, Silicon Valley, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, the strength of weak ties, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Toyota Production System, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Vilfredo Pareto, Y2K

Synchrony The best way to learn about the subject of coupled oscillators is from Steve Strogatz himself in his recent book: Strogatz, S. H. Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order (Hyperion, Los Angeles, 2003). Strogatz has also written two shorter accounts of his (and related) work on the Kuramoto model: Strogatz, S. H. Norbert Wiener’s brain waves. In Levin, S. A. (ed.), Frontiers in Mathematical Biology, Lecture Notes in Biomathematics, 100 (Springer, New York, 1994), pp. 122–138. Strogatz, S. H., and Stewart, I. Coupled oscillators and biological synchronization. Scientific American, 269(6), 102–109 (1993). The Road Less Traveled Winfree’s original paper on the entrainment of coupled oscillators that kicked off much of the recent literature, and that was my initial reference point, is Winfree, A.

.), Lectures in the Sciences of Complexity, vol. I, Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1989), pp. 301–354. Strogatz, S. H. Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos with Applications to Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1994). ———. Norbert Wiener’s brain waves. In Levin, S. A. (ed.), Frontiers in Mathematical Biology, Lecture Notes in Biomathematics, 100 (Springer, New York, 1994), pp. 122–138. ———. Exploring complex networks. Nature, 410, 268–275 (2001). ———. Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order (Hyperion, Los Angeles, 2003).


pages: 429 words: 114,726

The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise by Nathan L. Ensmenger

barriers to entry, business process, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, deskilling, Donald Knuth, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, functional programming, future of work, Grace Hopper, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, loose coupling, new economy, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, performance metric, Philip Mirowski, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Shoshana Zuboff, sorting algorithm, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the market place, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture, Y2K

In reality, many of the predictions made by contemporaries about the revolutionary potential of the electronic computer were, if anything, wildly optimistic. Almost before there were any computers—functional, modern, electronic digital stored-program computers—enthusiasts for the new technology were confidently anticipating its influence on contemporary society. As early as 1948 the cybernetician Norbert Wiener was predicting a “second industrial revolution” enabled by the electronic computer.2 A year later, the computer consultant Edmund Berkeley, in his popular book Giant Brains; or, Machines That Think, described a near future in which computers radically transformed a broad range of human cognitive and occupational activities, including business, law, education, and medicine.3 Despite the fact that electronic computers were in this period little more than glorified calculating machines, the provocative image of the computer as a “giant” or “mechanical brain” quickly became established in the popular imagination.

David Morrison, “Software Crisis,” Defense 21, no. 2 (1989): 72. 67. John Shore, “Why I Never Met a Programmer I Could Trust,” Communications of the ACM 31, no. 4 (1988): 372. Chapter 2 1. I. Bernard Cohen, Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999). 2. Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics, or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (Cambridge, MA: Technology Press, 1948). 3. Edmund Callis Berkeley, Giant Brains; or, Machines That Think (New York: Wiley, 1949). 4. Steven P. Schnaars and Sergio Carvalho, “Predicting the Market Evolution of Computers: Was the Revolution Really Unforeseen,” Technology in Society 26, no. 1 (2004): 1–16. 5.


pages: 636 words: 202,284

Piracy : The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates by Adrian Johns

active measures, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business intelligence, commoditize, Corn Laws, demand response, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Marshall McLuhan, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pirate software, Republic of Letters, Richard Stallman, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, software patent, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, traveling salesman, Whole Earth Catalog

From 1941, moreover, Merton worked with Paul Lazarsfeld at Columbia’s Office of Radio Research, a group seen by the industry as allied to the critics of the communications monopoly. Lazarsfeld and Merton developed methods for studying radio as a social agent, which they subsequently took pains to discuss with Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics group. Social Theory and Social Structure (1949), the book that made Merton’s name, proceeded sequentially from the sociology of media to the sociology of science – something we miss today when we read only the latter sections. In fact, he had pursued the two fields simultaneously.

These phenomena occurred across a range of systems the outputs of which “fed back” into the system itself: guncontrol devices, engine governors, electronic circuits. All could in principle be treated as mathematically isomorphic. Tackling them as such, mathematicians and engineers like Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver, and Norbert Wiener developed a theory of what they called information. Piracy and patenting took on new and central roles in that theory. Wiener in particular took the commitments to openness voiced in the AT&T furor and by proponents of liberalism like Plant and Polanyi, and articulated for them a place in the creation of an information age.

He also directed them to Radical Software, a periodical emanating from a New York group of artists in the brandnew homeproduction medium of videotape. Operating oxymoronically as the Center for Decentralized Television, Radical Software was heavily influenced by Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller, and also by Norbert Wiener’s antiproprietorial vision of information. The magazine proclaimed in the first lines of its first issue the imperative to universalize access to information, not least by abjuring copyright. It included what it called a “pirated” interview with Fuller, and invented a symbol to represent the “antithesis” of ©.


Ellul, Jacques-The Technological Society-Vintage Books (1964) by Unknown

Bretton Woods, conceptual framework, do-ocracy, double entry bookkeeping, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, liberal capitalism, means of production, Norbert Wiener, price mechanism, profit motive, rising living standards, road to serfdom, spinning jenny, Thorstein Veblen, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto

.* The Technological Society (9 Pure science seems to be yielding its place to an applied science which now and again reaches a brilliant peak from which new technical research becomes possible. Conversely, certain technical modifications— in airplanes, for instance— which may seem simple and mechanical, presuppose complex scientific work. The problem of reaching supersonic velocities is one. The considered opinion of Norbert Wiener is that the younger generation of research workers in the United States consists primarily of technicians who are un­ able to do research at all without the help of machines, large teams of men, and enormous amounts of money. The relation between science and technique becomes even less clear when we consider the newer fields, which have no boundaries.

Indeed, the period which followed the Renaissance and the Reformation was much less fertile in invention than the period whichhad preceded them. Printing, the nautical compass, gunpowder (also copied from the East), all date from the fifteenth century. It would not do to minimize the importance of these inventions. For Norbert Wiener, they “constitute the locus of an industrial revolution which pre­ ceded the principal industrial revolution.” Wiener, in a remarkable way, relates the principal inventions of this period to navigation, which, he proposes, was the propulsive force behind research. Alongside these major inventions, this period also saw a multitude of discoveries and new applications in banking, armaments, ma­ chinery, architecture (for example, the discovery of a new system for constructing the dome, as applied to Sainte-Marie-des-Fleurs), and in agriculture and the making of furniture.

Mumford’s thesis is incomprehensible unless technique is re­ stricted to the machine; Mumford actually makes this identifica­ tion. His distinction is then valid as a plan for the historical study of machines, but it is totally invalid for the study of technical civilization. When technical civilization is considered as a whole, this classification and explanation are shockingly surr.rr.ary and superficial. Norbert Wiener likewise rejects tbe classification founded on the different sources of energy. For him there has been only one industrial revolution, and that consisted in the replace­ ment of human muscle as a source of energy. And, he adds, there is a second revolution in the making whose object is the replace­ ment of the human brain.


The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara

"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, hockey-stick growth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K

“I think the proposal points to the way all computers will be operated in the future,” McCarthy wrote to the head of MIT’s computing lab in early 1959, “and we have a chance to pioneer a big step forward in the way computers are used.”4 John McCarthy was hardly the only person in Boston who was thinking about how to improve the human-computer interface. A ferment of conversation had been brewing around the issue ever since the late 1940s, when the father of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener, had led a legendary series of weekly seminars in Cambridge to debate questions of man and machine. The notion of getting computers to talk to one another wasn’t impossible to imagine: digital networking had been around nearly as long as the digital computer itself via another born-in-Boston system, the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment, or SAGE.

Many were professionals in their twenties and thirties, with children, mortgages, and graduate degrees. Thus the gulf between the scientific Cold Warriors and the techno-utopians was not as great as it seemed. Many of the ideas that animated the personal-computer crusade, like human-computer interaction and networked collaboration, were the same ones that had consumed the Cambridge seminars of Norbert Wiener in the 1940s and the labs of McCarthy and Minsky and Licklider in the 1950s. The new generation believed in the same principle that had animated government science ever since Vannevar Bush celebrated its “endless frontier” in 1945: technological innovation would cure society’s problems and build a better American future.16 Such technophilia also made this change-the-world movement oddly conservative when it came to disrupting conventional gender roles, reckoning with society’s racism, or acknowledging yawning economic and educational inequalities.

The environmental and social costs of the era’s tech boom are explored in Lenny Siegel and John Markoff, The High Cost of High Tech (1985). On the culture wars on campus and beyond, see Andrew Hartman, A War for the Soul of America (2015). On broader cultural and political polarization, see Daniel T. Rodgers, Age of Fracture (2012). The literature on artificial intelligence and “machines that think” is rich and engaging. Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics (1948) and its popularizing contemporary, Edmund Callis Berkeley’s Giant Brains, or, Machines That Think (1949), remain fascinating and revealing reads. Secondary works that helped inform this part of the story include Daniel Crevier, AI (1993); John Markoff, Machines of Loving Grace (2015); and Thomas Rid, Rise of the Machines (2016).


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Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters With Reality and Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier

4chan, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Bill Atkinson, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative editing, commoditize, cosmological constant, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Firefox, game design, general-purpose programming language, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, impulse control, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, lifelogging, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, Mondo 2000, Mother of all demos, Murray Gell-Mann, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Bannon, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons

It proves you are real. 5. Bug in the System (About the Dark Side of VR) Paranoid Android After my mother died, sequences of words had shown me the way out of the hospital. “Choose life.” Now that I was a teenager, other sequences of words nearly sent me back in. Ellery had given me his copy of Norbert Wiener’s The Human Use of Human Beings when I started college and became interested in computer science. This is a profoundly terrifying book, written so early in the game that Wiener had to define basic terms. He articulated an approach to the future of computation that he called cybernetics. Wiener realized that someday, when computers would become thoroughly integrated into human affairs, we would only be able to understand people and computers as portions of a system that included both.

“I hadn’t noticed until you pointed it out.” On Track I had been building up a sense of mission for years and it was finally becoming more focused. I would prod the gang to build machines to make social VR possible, and promote VR as a suitably intense source of fascination to compete with the mind-control games and foolishness that Norbert Wiener worried about. VR would be the alternative to AI. If a high-level strategy was becoming clear, the ground-level tactical game was still vague. Should we try a startup? Try to cajole a university or big company into supporting us in a VR lab? Just earn enough money from games or whatever to make the stuff with no regard for any existing precedent?


pages: 675 words: 141,667

Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks (Cambridge Studies in the Emergence of Global Enterprise) by Andrew L. Russell

American ideology, animal electricity, barriers to entry, borderless world, Chelsea Manning, computer age, creative destruction, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, Edward Snowden, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Hacker Ethic, Herbert Marcuse, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Leonard Kleinrock, means of production, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, open economy, packet switching, pre–internet, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, web of trust

In 1939, the British Keynesian economist George Shackle published an article titled “The Multiplier in Closed and Open Systems,” a commentary on the theoretical uncertainties inherent in export and import values in an “open economy.”26 The language of open systems also appeared in the work of the sociologist Talcott Parsons, who in 1943 described the “Kinship System of the Contemporary United States” as an “open, multilineal, conjugal system,” one in which individuals choose their marriage partners rather than having marriages arranged on their behalf. In 1945, the term “open systems” appeared again in a different context – this time in the journal Philosophy of Science. Arturo Rosenblueth and Norbert Wiener published an article, “The Role of Models in Science,” where they contrasted theoretical models that they called “closed box” and “open box.” The distinction between these two types of models came from the number of fixed finite variables that each system had: fewer in closed boxes, many more in open boxes.

Shackle,” The Austrian Economics Newsletter (1983), available from http://mises.org/journals/aen/aen4_1_1.asp (accessed January 27, 2012). 27 Talcott Parsons, “The Kinship System of the Contemporary United States,” American Anthropologist, New Series, 45 (1943): 22–38; Arturo Rosenblueth and Norbert Wiener, “The Role of Models in Science,” Philosophy of Science 12 (1945): 316–321. 28 Ludwig von Bertalanffy, “The Theory of Open Systems in Physics and Biology,” Science New Series 111 (1950): 23–29; Ludwig von Bertalanffy, “An Outline of General System Theory,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 1 (1950): 139–164. 29 W.


Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley Phd

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Barry Marshall: ulcers, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Deng Xiaoping, disinformation, double helix, impulse control, Mahatma Gandhi, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Norbert Wiener, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, prisoner's dilemma, Richard Feynman, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stanford prison experiment, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, twin studies, union organizing, Y2K

Indeed, studies have shown that the borderline traits of affective instability and impulsivity run in families.54 But since each of the unlucky borderline traits involving impulsivity, mood disturbances, and cognitive dysfunction is, for the most part, separately heritable, it's unlikely that you'd inherit every one of them, even if one of your parents were to be borderline. We have reason to believe that the spotty heritability situation is similar with antisocial personality disorder (which can actually arise from many different causes, some of which are solely environmental), and even psychopathy. An Emergenic Prodigy Speaks of Jewish “Smarts” Norbert Wiener was a child prodigy who received his doctorate from Harvard at age eighteen; he would go on to discover important mathematical properties related to communications, robotics, computer control, and automation. Wiener's father claimed that it was his training methods alone that had made his son so brilliant—otherwise Norbert would have been a perfectly ordinary child.

Yolken, “Toxoplasma gondii and Schizophrenia,” Emerging Infectious Diseases 9, no. 11 (2003): 1375–80. 52. Ni et al., “Association between Serotonin”; A. E. Skodol et al., “The Borderline Diagnosis II: Biology, Genetics, and Clinical Course,” Biological Psychiatry 51, no. 12 (2002): 951–63. 53. Norbert Wiener, Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1953), p. 158. 54. Larry J. Siever, Harold W. Koenigsberg, and Deidre Reynolds, “Neurobiology of Personality Disorders: Implications for a Neurodevelopmental Model,” in Neurodevelopmental Mechanisms in Psychopathology, ed. Dante Cicchetti and Elaine Walker (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 416–17; A.


pages: 464 words: 127,283

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend

1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Donald Davies, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, off grid, openstreetmap, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Shenzhen special economic zone , Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, undersea cable, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

Will you accept that?”48 Asimov’s depiction of psychohistory was inspired by the new field of cybernetics. Along with nuclear fission and rocketry, the costarring technologies in the science fiction of the day, automated control systems were one of the great technological leaps of World War II. Led by Norbert Wiener at MIT, cybernetics built on wartime research in antiaircraft targeting techniques that used past observations of flight trajectories to improve predictions of an aircraft’s future position. Cybernetics took the idea of using sensing and feedback to optimize performance and extended it to the universe generally.

Thinking about the unthinkable dictated a whole new approach to building cities. By concentrating population, infrastructure, and industrial capacity in nice, big, juicy, megaton-sized targets, they had become a liability in the nuclear age. As early as 1950, none other than the father of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener, wrote in Life magazine, “The decentralization of our cities on the spots on which they stand, plus the release of our whole communications system from the threat of a disastrous tie-up, are reforms which are long overdue. . . . For a city is primarily a communications center, serving the same purpose as a nerve center in the body.”72 While suburbanization was driven by broader economic and technological forces, defense planners certainly welcomed and encouraged the decentralization of population.73 The federal government was much less subtle with businesses, intensively studying and promoting “industrial dispersion” throughout the 1950s.74 Today, our own doomsday scenario is also man-made.


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Barefoot Into Cyberspace: Adventures in Search of Techno-Utopia by Becky Hogge, Damien Morris, Christopher Scally

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, disintermediation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, Hacker Conference 1984, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, information asymmetry, Jacob Appelbaum, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, MITM: man-in-the-middle, moral panic, Mother of all demos, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, peer-to-peer, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Skype, Socratic dialogue, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Hackers Conference, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks

Opposite it sits a gushing review of the HP 9100A Calculator, “the best of the new tabletop number-crunchers”. On the previous page sits a review of The Human Biocomputer, an exploration into psychedelics and sensory deprivation by the neuroscientist John Lily, inventor of the flotation tank. The page following it features the McGraw-Hill encyclopaedia of Space. Sitting respectably on page 12, Norbert Wiener’s now seminal work on cybernetics, The Human Use of Human Beings is described as “social, untechnical, ultimate in most of its consideration. Its domain is the whole earth of mind.” Later in the catalogue, Wiener’s other great work, Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine is reviewed.


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Machine Translation by Thierry Poibeau

AltaVista, augmented reality, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, crowdsourcing, easy for humans, difficult for computers, en.wikipedia.org, Google Glasses, information retrieval, Internet of things, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, natural language processing, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, RAND corporation, Robert Mercer, Skype, speech recognition, statistical model, technological singularity, Turing test, wikimedia commons

The same goes for translation, which can be seen as decoding a given text (the text is considered “encoded” in an unknown language: in order to be comprehensible, it must therefore be translated; in other words, decoded in the target language). Beginning in 1947, Weaver corresponded with the cyberneticist Norbert Wiener concerning machine translation. He proposed that translation could be considered a “decoding” problem: One naturally wonders if the problem of translation could conceivably be treated as a problem in cryptography. When I look at an article in Russian, I say: “This is really written in English, but it has been coded in some strange symbols.


pages: 573 words: 157,767

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Andrew Wiles, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, computer vision, disinformation, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fermat's Last Theorem, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information asymmetry, information retrieval, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

This clarifies the physical environment in which all R&D must take place, but the R&D itself, the development of pattern-detection “devices” that can refine the ore, find the needles, is a process that we are only now beginning to understand in a bottom-up way. Up until now we have been able to reason about the semantic-level information needed for various purposes (to inform rational choices, to steer, to build a better mousetrap, to control an elevator) independently of considerations of how this semantic information was physically embodied. As Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics, once put it (1961, p. 132): “Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism that does not admit this can survive at the present day.” 23Colgate and Ziock (2010) provide a brief, useful summary of some of the history of definitions of information growing out of the work of Shannon and Weaver. 24Giulio Tononi (2008) has proposed a mathematical theory of consciousness as “integrated information” that utilizes Shannon information theory in a novel way and has a very limited role for aboutness: it measures the amount of Shannon information a system or mechanism has about its own previous state—that is, the states of all its parts.

Shannon’s enabling stroke was to abstract the concept of information away from thermodynamics, away from the concept of energy (and matter, as noted above); information is information whether electrons or photons or smoke signals or magnetic regions or microscopic pits in plastic disks are involved. It takes energy to transmit and transform information (it isn’t magic, after all) but we can isolate our understanding of the information processing from whatever energetic considerations are in play. Norbert Wiener created the field, and the term, cybernetics. He took the Greek verb for steer or govern—κυβερνάω—kybernao—from which the English word govern is also derived—and noted that while the controller (of a ship, a city, a body, an oil refinery) needs to use energy at some interface (to push the rudder, utter the decree, turn up the temperature), the energy required to run the control system itself is ad lib—whatever you like, and not very much.


pages: 498 words: 145,708

Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber

addicted to oil, AltaVista, American ideology, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, business cycle, Celebration, Florida, collective bargaining, creative destruction, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, G4S, game design, George Gilder, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Herbert Marcuse, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, informal economy, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, Marc Andreessen, McJob, microcredit, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, presumed consent, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, spice trade, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the market place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, X Prize

Still more recently, they were the pioneers of the electronic and digital revolution, Silicon Valley cowboys who made the imaginative leaps and took the risks in the 1960s and 1970s that allowed the consolidators and businessmen who established the monopolies and made the fortunes in the 1980s and 1990s to flourish. These were not the Bill Gateses of the cyberworld, but people like novelist William Gibson, John Perry Barlow (who wrote lyrics for the Grateful Dead), and the great cyber-pioneer Norbert Wiener. There is perhaps no better American model of this precapitalist swash-buckler archetype than John D. Rockefeller’s father. On his way to depicting the life of John D., biographer Ron Chernow offers a sidebar portrait of William Rockefeller that captures America’s precapitalist prelude right after the Civil War and immediately before the great capitalist breakout that would be called the Gilded Age.

Friedman rightly extols the pioneering work of Marc Andreessen in developing the Mosaic web browser, which set an industry standard and turned the internet into a usable technology.80 What he fails to notice is that it was not Andreessen the pioneer but Gates the rational consolidator who fashions the consumer monopoly and makes the fortune off of pioneers who came first. Let others test the market: then jump when the results are in. Let someone else invent: then buy the fruits of their invention. It was a field with pioneers aplenty, a plethora of brilliant people with ingenious ideas going all the way back to the father of modern cybernetics, Norbert Wiener of MIT. There were mathematicians like John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, who invented BASIC but never managed to commercialize their work, as well as other visionaries who either lacked the technical expertise (William Gibson or John Perry Barlow, for example), or creators like Ed Roberts, the inventor of the Altair 8800, whose careers floundered as their fledging companies were bought up before the big money was made.


pages: 202 words: 62,901

The People's Republic of Walmart: How the World's Biggest Corporations Are Laying the Foundation for Socialism by Leigh Phillips, Michal Rozworski

Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, call centre, carbon footprint, central bank independence, Colonization of Mars, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, corporate raider, decarbonisation, discovery of penicillin, Elon Musk, G4S, Garrett Hardin, Georg Cantor, germ theory of disease, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, independent contractor, index fund, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, linear programming, liquidity trap, mass immigration, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, post scarcity, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, recommendation engine, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, strikebreaker, supply-chain management, surveillance capitalism, technoutopianism, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, Turing machine, union organizing

The first edition of Beer’s 1959 book on the subject, Cybernetics and Management, does not even make reference to computers, and, as Medina is keen to stress, Beer himself was an intransigent critic of how business and government deployed computers. Cybernetics is not management by algorithm. It is not digital Taylorism. During World War II, MIT mathematician Norbert Wiener and his engineering colleague Julian Bigelow were tasked with developing ways of improving the targeting of enemy aircraft. Following consultations with an early neuropsychologist, the two developed an apparatus that automatically helped the human gunner to correct their aim through what they called feedback, a circular method of control through which the rules governing a process are modified in response to their results or effects.


pages: 210 words: 62,771

Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science by Chris Bernhardt

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, British Empire, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Conway's Game of Life, discrete time, Douglas Hofstadter, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture

McCulloch and Pitts realized that this was a simplified model of how brains actually worked, but studied neural nets to see how logic could be handled by them. Since their nets had basic features in common with neurons and the human brain, their work, they hoped, would shed some light on logical reasoning in people. Their paper caught the attention of both John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener. Both were very impressed. Wiener, the famous American mathematician and philosopher, saw the power of feedback loops. He realized that they were widely applicable and used this idea to develop the theory of cybernetics.1 Cybernetics naturally led to the idea of machines that could learn and, in turn, led to the birth of artificial intelligence.


pages: 542 words: 161,731

Alone Together by Sherry Turkle

Albert Einstein, Columbine, global village, Hacker Ethic, helicopter parent, Howard Rheingold, industrial robot, information retrieval, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Marshall McLuhan, meta-analysis, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rodney Brooks, Skype, social intelligence, stem cell, technoutopianism, The Great Good Place, the medium is the message, the strength of weak ties, theory of mind, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Wall-E, women in the workforce, Year of Magical Thinking

., Genesis Redux: Essays on the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); Gaby Wood, Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life (New York: Anchor, 2003); and Barbara Johnson, Persons and Things (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008). Johnson explores how relations between persons and things can be more fluid while arguing a central ethical tenet: persons should be treated as persons. 2 Norbert Wiener, God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1966). 3 The literature on the negotiation of technology, self, and social world is rich and varied. I have been particularly influenced by the perspectives described in Wiebe Bijker, Thomas P.

pagewanted=all (accessed September 9, 2009). 5 I cite this student in Sherry Turkle, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (1984; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), 271. The full Norbert Weiner citation is “This is an idea with which I have toyed before—that it is conceptually possible for a human being to be sent over a telegraph line.” See Norbert Wiener, God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1966), 36. 6 People drawn to sociable robots seem to hit a wall that has come to be known as the “uncanny valley.” This phrase is believed to have been coined by Masahiro Mori in “The Uncanny Valley,” Energy 7, no. 4 (1970): 33-35, An English translation by Karl F.


pages: 222 words: 70,132

Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Herbert Marcuse, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Bannon, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Tragedy of the Commons, transfer pricing, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, you are the product

It starts like this. Ready or not, computers are coming to the people. That’s good news, maybe the best since psychedelics. It’s way off the track of the “Computers—Threat or menace?” school of liberal criticism but surprisingly in line with the romantic fantasies of the forefathers of the science such as Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, J.C.R. Licklider, John von Neumann and Vannevar Bush. The trend owes its health to an odd array of influences: The youthful fervor and firm dis-Establishmentarianism of the freaks who design computer science; an astonishingly enlightened research program from the very top of the Defense Department; an unexpected market-Banking movement by the manufacturers of small calculating machines; and an irrepressible midnight phenomenon known as Spacewar.


pages: 281 words: 71,242

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer

artificial general intelligence, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, Colonization of Mars, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, global village, Google Glasses, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, income inequality, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, PageRank, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, yellow journalism

If some of these sentiments sound familiar, it is because they have echoed in dozens of Apple commercials over the years. In a way, this was a theory of radical individualism and self-reliance—a forerunner of Silicon Valley libertarianism. But Brand had studied the works of such thinkers as Buckminster Fuller, Norbert Wiener, and Marshall McLuhan. All of his intellectual heroes wrote about the importance of looking at systems and networks. This was where the notion of the Whole Earth came in. Brand wanted his readers to think ecologically, to see how everything relates to everything else, to understand their place in the web of life.


pages: 262 words: 65,959

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh

Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, cognitive dissonance, Donald Knuth, Erdős number, Georg Cantor, Grace Hopper, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, Kickstarter, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, P = NP, Paul Erdős, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Schrödinger's Cat, Simon Singh, Stephen Hawking, Wolfskehl Prize, women in the workforce

Curious about what else was making my fellow geeks chortle, I asked people to e-mail me their favorite mathematical jokes, and for the past decade I have received a steady flow of comedic offerings of a nerdy nature, ranging from dismal puns to rich anecdotes. One of my favorites is a story that was originally told by the historian of mathematics Howard Eves (1911–2004). The tale concerns the mathematician Norbert Wiener, who pioneered cybernetics: When [Wiener] and his family moved to a new house a few blocks away, his wife gave him written directions on how to reach it, since she knew he was absentminded. But when he was leaving his office at the end of the day, he couldn’t remember where he put her note, and he couldn’t remember where the new house was.


pages: 239 words: 56,531

The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine by Peter Lunenfeld

Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, anti-globalists, Apple II, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business cycle, butterfly effect, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, East Village, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Grace Hopper, gravity well, Guggenheim Bilbao, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, Ian Bogost, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-materialism, Potemkin village, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, social software, spaced repetition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, walkable city, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

Licklider 147 GENERATIONS There are many mathematicians, early computer scientists, and engineers who deserve to be considered part of the first generation of pioneering Patriarchs. They include Alan Turing, already discussed in chapter 2; mathematician and quantum theorist John von Neumann; cyberneticist Norbert Wiener; information theorist Claude Shannon; and computer architects like the German Konrad Zuse, and Americans J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, who developed ENIAC, the room-sized machine at the University of Pennsylvania that we recognize as the first general-purpose electronic computer. These were the Patriarchs who set the parameters for computer science, laying out the issues for software development, building the original architectures for hardware, and creating the cultures of computer science and engineering.


pages: 229 words: 68,426

Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing by Adam Greenfield

augmented reality, business process, defense in depth, demand response, demographic transition, facts on the ground, game design, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, James Dyson, knowledge worker, late capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, new economy, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, profit motive, QR code, recommendation engine, RFID, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, the built environment, the scientific method

Thesis 45 Users will understand their transactions with everyware to be essentially social in nature. There's good reason to believe that users will understand their transactions with ubiquitous systems to be essentially social in nature, whether consciously or otherwise—and this will be true even if there is only one human party to a given interaction. Norbert Wiener, the "father of cybernetics," had already intuited something of this in his 1950 book, The Human Use of Human Beings: according to Wiener, when confronted with cybernetic machines, human beings found themselves behaving as if the systems possessed agency. This early insight was confirmed and extended in the pioneering work of Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass, published in 1996 as The Media Equation.


pages: 241 words: 70,307

Leadership by Algorithm: Who Leads and Who Follows in the AI Era? by David de Cremer

algorithmic bias, bitcoin, blockchain, business climate, business process, corporate governance, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, future of work, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Mark Zuckerberg, meta-analysis, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, race to the bottom, robotic process automation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, Turing test, zero-sum game

Consider the following assertion made by the intellectual fathers of AI, that AI is not developed with the purpose of replacing the human race – and thereby reversing the power dynamics – in a society that is becoming increasingly automated. Instead, it aims to contribute to the optimization and well-being of a human society defined by the unique values that make it human. The following passage from a 1960 article by Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics, is particularly compelling in this respect: “If we use, to achieve our purposes, a mechanical agency with whose operation we cannot efficiently interfere once we have started it because the action is so fast and irrevocable that we have not the data to intervene before the action is complete, then we better be quite sure that the purpose put into the machine is the purpose which we really desire and not merely a colorful imitation of it.”²¹⁵ With this peculiar challenge in mind, I would like to return to the story that I told you earlier, about my executive students asking whether soft skills will have a place in the leadership of tomorrow.


Blindside: How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics by Francis Fukuyama

Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, cognitive bias, cuban missile crisis, energy security, flex fuel, global pandemic, income per capita, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, John von Neumann, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Norbert Wiener, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, packet switching, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Yom Kippur War

Or to put it another way, the act of computation had become an abstraction embodied in what is now known as software. The history of information technology offers many other examples of invention-by-convergence. Among them: —The modern concept of information and information processing was a synthesis of insights developed in the 1930s and 1940s by Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, Walter Pitts, and John von Neumann.12 —The hobbyists who sparked the personal computer revolution in the late 1970s were operating (consciously or not) in the context of ideas that had been around for a decade or more. There was the notion of interactive comput- 2990-7 ch11 waldrop 7/23/07 12:13 PM innovation and adaptation Page 125 125 ing, for example, in which a computer would respond to the user’s input immediately (as opposed to generating a stack of fanfold printout hours later); this idea dated back to the Whirlwind project, an experiment in real-time computing that began at MIT in the 1940s.13 There were the twin notions of individually controlled computing (having a computer apparently under the control of a single user) and home computing (having a computer in your own house); both emerged in the 1960s from MIT’s Project MAC, an early experiment in time-sharing.14 And then there was the notion of a computer as an open system, meaning that a user could modify it, add to it, and upgrade it however he or she wanted; that practice was already standard in the minicomputer market, which was pioneered by the Digital Equipment Corporation in the 1960s.15 —The Internet as we know it today represents the convergence of (among other ideas) the notion of packet-switched networking from the 1960s;16 the notion of internetworking (as embodied in the TCP/IP protocol), which was developed in the 1970s to allow packets to pass between different networks;17 and the notion of hypertext—which, of course, goes back to Vannevar Bush’s article on the memex in 1945. 2990-7 ch11 waldrop 7/23/07 12:13 PM Page 126 2990-7 ch12 kurth 7/23/07 12:14 PM Page 127 Part IV What Could Be 2990-7 ch12 kurth 7/23/07 12:14 PM Page 128 2990-7 ch12 kurth 7/23/07 12:14 PM Page 129 12 Cassandra versus Pollyanna A Debate between James Kurth and Gregg Easterbrook James Kurth: I am an optimist about the current pessimism, but a pessimist overall.


pages: 257 words: 80,100

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, augmented reality, butterfly effect, crowdsourcing, Doomsday Book, index card, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, The future is already here, wikimedia commons

“There is a strong temptation to throw up one’s hands and proclaim the whole thing is an illusion.” A landmark on that road is an essay published in 1908 by the journal Mind, “The Unreality of Time,” by John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart. He was an English philosopher, by then a fixture at Trinity College, Cambridge.*9 McTaggart was said (by Norbert Wiener) to have made a cameo appearance in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as the Dormouse, “with his pudgy hands, his sleepy air, and his sidelong walk.” He had been arguing for years that our common view of time is an illusion, and now he made his case. “It doubtless seems highly paradoxical to assert that Time is unreal,” he began.


pages: 829 words: 186,976

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don't by Nate Silver

"Robert Solow", airport security, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Bear Stearns, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business cycle, buy and hold, Carmen Reinhart, Claude Shannon: information theory, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disinformation, diversification, Donald Trump, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, Freestyle chess, fudge factor, George Akerlof, global pandemic, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, high batting average, housing crisis, income per capita, index fund, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Laplace demon, locking in a profit, Loma Prieta earthquake, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, negative equity, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pets.com, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, security theater, short selling, Skype, statistical model, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, University of East Anglia, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons

However, the Drake equation has nevertheless been a highly useful lens for astronomers to think about life, the universe, and everything. 90. George E. P. Box and Norman R. Draper, Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces (New York: Wiley, 1987), p. 424. 91. “Norbert Wiener,” Wikiquote.org. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Norbert_Wiener. CHAPTER 8: LESS AND LESS AND LESS WRONG 1. Roland Lazenby, The Show: The Inside Story of the Spectacular Los Angeles Lakers in the Words of Those Who Lived It (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006). 2. Mark Heisler, “The Times’ Rankings: Top to Bottom/NBA,” Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1999. 3.


pages: 289 words: 87,292

The Strange Order of Things: The Biological Roots of Culture by Antonio Damasio

Albert Einstein, algorithmic bias, biofilm, business process, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double helix, Gordon Gekko, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, invisible hand, job automation, mental accounting, meta-analysis, microbiome, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, Thomas Malthus

The entrenched dualism that began in Athens, was grandfathered by Descartes, resisted Spinoza’s broadside, and has been fiercely exploited by the computational sciences is a position whose time has passed. A new, biologically integrated position is now required. Nothing could be more different from the conception of the relation between minds and brains with which I started my career. I began reading Warren McCulloch, Norbert Wiener, and Claude Shannon when I was twenty, and due to several quirks of destiny McCulloch would soon become my first American mentor along with Norman Geschwind. This was a foundational, exhilarating time for science, one that opened the way for the extraordinary successes of neurobiology, the computational sciences, and artificial intelligence.


pages: 345 words: 86,394

Frequently Asked Questions in Quantitative Finance by Paul Wilmott

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, beat the dealer, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delta neutral, discrete time, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fixed income, fudge factor, implied volatility, incomplete markets, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, iterative process, lateral thinking, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, martingale, Myron Scholes, Norbert Wiener, Paul Samuelson, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, risk free rate, risk/return, Sharpe ratio, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, transaction costs, urban planning, value at risk, volatility arbitrage, volatility smile, Wiener process, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

The very first use of the finite-difference method, in which a differential equation is discretized into a difference equation, was by Lewis Fry Richardson in 1911, and used to solve the diffusion equation associated with weather forecasting. See Richardson (1922). Richardson later worked on the mathematics for the causes of war. 1923 Wiener Norbert Wiener developed a rigorous theory for Brownian motion, the mathematics of which was to become a necessary modelling device for quantitative finance decades later. The starting point for almost all financial models, the first equation written down in most technical papers, includes the Wiener process as the representation for randomness in asset prices.


pages: 369 words: 80,355

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger

airport security, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, book scanning, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, Debian, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, future of journalism, Galaxy Zoo, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, invention of the telegraph, jimmy wales, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, linked data, Netflix Prize, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pluto: dwarf planet, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, slashdot, social graph, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

I am assuming that a desktop computer these days has a terabyte of hard-disk space. 12 Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (Random House, 1970), p. 350. The term “information overload” appeared as early as 1962; see Bertram M. Gross, “Operation Basic: The Retrieval of Wasted Knowledge,” Journal of Communication 12 (1967): 67–83, DOI: 10.1111. And Norbert Wiener talked about overloading the nervous system even earlier in his 1948 book Cybernetics (MIT Press, reprinted in 1961). 13 The concept of sensory overload was itself new. It’s often traced back to an article by Georg Simmel, written in 1903, that explained how the overwhelming sensations experienced by city-dwellers can make them reserved and unresponsive.


pages: 795 words: 215,529

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick

Albert Einstein, American ideology, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, disinformation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Ernest Rutherford, gravity well, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Schrödinger's Cat, sexual politics, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, uranium enrichment

At that point photons have freed themselves from the pinball game of diffusion and can fly in a straight line until they scatter again, in the earth’s atmosphere or in the sensitive retina of one’s eye. The difference in brightness between the sun’s center and its edge gave an indirect means of calculating the nature of the internal diffusion. Or should have—but the mechanics proved difficult until a brilliant young mathematician at MIT, Norbert Wiener, devised a useful method. If the sun were a coolly radioactive metal ball a few inches across, with neutrons rattling about inside, it would start to look like a miniaturized version of the same problem. For a while this approach proved useful. Past a certain point, however, it broke down. Too many idealizing assumptions had to be made.

His readers—and at first they were few—found no fancy mathematics, just this shift of vision, a bit of physical intuition laid atop a foundation of clean, classical mechanics. Few immediately recognized the power of Feynman’s vision. One who did was the Polish mathematician Mark Kac, who heard Feynman describe his path integrals at Cornell and immediately recognized a kinship with a problem in probability theory. He had been trying to extend the work of Norbert Wiener on Brownian motion, the herky-jerky random motion in the diffusion processes that so dominated Feynman’s theoretical work at Los Alamos. Wiener, too, had created integrals that summed many possible paths a particle could take, but with a crucial difference in the handling of time. Within days of Feynman’s talk, Kac had created a new formula, the Feynman-Kac Formula, that became one of the most ubiquitous of mathematical tools, linking the applications of probability and quantum mechanics.


pages: 366 words: 94,209

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business process, buy and hold, buy low sell high, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, centralized clearinghouse, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, corporate raider, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, Garrett Hardin, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global village, Google bus, Howard Rheingold, IBM and the Holocaust, impulse control, income inequality, independent contractor, index fund, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, loss aversion, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, medical bankruptcy, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, passive investing, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social graph, software patent, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, trade route, Tragedy of the Commons, transportation-network company, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Y Combinator, young professional, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Already in China, the implementation of 3-D printing and other automated solutions is threatening hundreds of thousands of high-tech manufacturing jobs, many of which have existed for less than a decade.43 American factories would be winning back this business but for a shortage of workers with the training necessary to run an automated factory. Still, this wealth of opportunity will likely be only temporary. Once the robots are in place, their continued upkeep and a large part of their improvement will be automated as well. Humans may have to learn to live with it. It’s a conundrum that was first articulated back in the 1940s by Norbert Wiener, the inventor of cybernetics and the feedback mechanisms that turned plain old machines into responsive, decision-making robots. Wiener understood that in order for people to remain valuable in the coming technologized economy, we were going to have to figure out what we can do—if anything—better than the technologies we have created.


Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child by Alissa Quart

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, cognitive dissonance, deliberate practice, Flynn Effect, haute couture, helicopter parent, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, meta-analysis, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, Thomas L Friedman, War on Poverty

By adulthood, however, in 1937, the New Yorker could present the adult Sidis as a freakish itinerant clerk working a string of low-level soul-crushing jobs, living in a sordid rooming house. To add to the pathos, Sidis had developed a mania for train schedules and nothing else. He died in 1944. An extensive account can be found in The Prodigy: A Biography of William Sidis, America’s Greatest Child Prodigy, by Amy Wallace (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1986). Norbert Wiener also started college at eleven and got a doctorate from Harvard at eighteen. Ultimately Wiener wrote that his father’s domination ruined his childhood in his remarkably good and honest memoir, Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1964). When he made a mathematical mistake, wrote Wiener, his “gentle and loving father was replaced by the avenger of the blood.”


Data Action: Using Data for Public Good by Sarah Williams

affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrei Shleifer, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, City Beautiful movement, commoditize, coronavirus, Covid-19, COVID-19, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, data is the new oil, digital twin, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, four colour theorem, global village, Google Earth, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Kibera, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, mass incarceration, megacity, Minecraft, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, openstreetmap, place-making, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, selection bias, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Steven Levy, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, transatlantic slave trade, Uber for X, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, Works Progress Administration

But while the analysis proved useful, some argue that the work of the bureau was never truly integrated into the planning processes of Los Angeles; with no pathways to create planning action, it ultimately failed. Despite that failure, the bureau performed the data analytics necessary to secure important grant funding and turned to more policy-driven questions, unlike some of the models developed by enthusiasts of cybernetics.82 Cybernetics, championed at MIT by Norbert Wiener, is an interdisci-plinary approach to examining how humans and machines communicate with and control each other. Its use for urban planning provided the ability to perform computational analysis that included theories of the city as a biological system and machine.83 Jay Forrester, a researcher and professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, applied cybernetics theory to modeling the dynamics of industry, including supply chains and resource flows.84 After a chance meeting with John F.


pages: 332 words: 93,672

Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy by George Gilder

23andMe, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Asilomar, augmented reality, Ben Horowitz, bitcoin, Bitcoin Ponzi scheme, blockchain, Bob Noyce, British Empire, Brownian motion, Burning Man, business process, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, crony capitalism, cross-subsidies, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Knuth, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fault tolerance, fiat currency, Firefox, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, game design, George Gilder, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, index fund, inflation targeting, informal economy, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Money creation, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, quantitative easing, random walk, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ross Ulbricht, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, Satoshi Nakamoto, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, software is eating the world, sorting algorithm, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, telepresence, Tesla Model S, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing complete, Turing machine, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Some, like Shannon, are widely celebrated. Andrew Viterbi is best known as a co-founder of Qualcomm, but perhaps his greatest feat was to develop a recursive algorithm for efficiently computing complex chains, overcoming the computing costs that grew exponentially with the size of the chain. The precocious MIT star Norbert Wiener, author of Cybernetics (1948), extended Markov sequences from discrete to continuous phenomena and contributed the idea of pruning improbable results.4 This advance helped calculations of rocket or airplane trajectories during World War II, using Markov math to predict the future location of moving objects by observing their current positions.


pages: 798 words: 240,182

The Transhumanist Reader by Max More, Natasha Vita-More

23andMe, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cellular automata, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, data acquisition, discovery of DNA, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, experimental subject, Extropian, fault tolerance, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, friendly AI, game design, germ theory of disease, hypertext link, impulse control, index fund, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, phenotype, positional goods, prediction markets, presumed consent, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, RFID, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, silicon-based life, Singularitarianism, social intelligence, stem cell, stochastic process, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, the built environment, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

., and Gruss, P. (1998) “Apaf1 (CED-4 Homolog) Regulates Programmed Cell Death in Mammalian Development.” Cell 94 (September 18), pp. 727–737. Published 5-10092. Göttingen: Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. Conway, Flo and Siegelman, Jim (2005) Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics. New York: Basic Books. 8 The Hybronaut Affair A Ménage of Art, Technology, and Science Laura Beloff Techno-Organic Environment Alfons Schilling began his long-term investigations on perception during the early 1960s by designing motion paintings,1 and continued the research with design of optical instruments called Vision Machines.2 Schilling’s experiments were constructed as head-worn objects, or instruments, in various shapes and sizes, which transformed the viewer’s perception through first-hand experience.

In Engines of Creation, Drexler gives a visionary and authoritative account of the consequences for “nature” of new technological developments, particularly of nanotechnology, the engineering of molecular computers which can self-assemble and replicate within human cells or build complex structures in outer space, which contains for artists some of the most radical implications since Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics (Wiener 1948), published in 1948. Wiener’s ideas led effectively to the computer revolution, the Information Society, and to the Telematic Culture. It may very well be that Drexler’s writing signals the stirrings of a twenty-first-century revolution, the molecular revolution, the first shots of which have already been fired with the synthesis of chemicals with internal moving parts, a prototype of the molecular machine which will lead us in a matter of decades to the optical molecular computers which may make our present “electronic space” an obsolescent environment But following McLuhan’s idea that the content of a new medium is the medium which preceded it, the rear-view mirror effect, we telematic artists can be optimistic that the molecular society of tomorrow will realize with ease the ideas of telepresence, connectivity, distributed authorship, and interactivity, which we are working with today.


pages: 879 words: 233,093

The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by Jeremy Rifkin

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, animal electricity, back-to-the-land, British Empire, carbon footprint, collaborative economy, death of newspapers, delayed gratification, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, feminist movement, global village, hedonic treadmill, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, off grid, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, scientific worldview, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, social intelligence, supply-chain management, surplus humans, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, working poor, World Values Survey

William James drew attention to the significance of the physiological trigger in inducing an emotional state. He observed that “[w]e feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, and afraid because we tremble.”29 We call this afferent feedback. (The term “feedback” was first popularized by Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics theory, in the 1950s.) In an interesting study conducted in the 1970s, researchers were able to lend scientific credibility to James’s theoretical musings. Electrodes were placed on the faces of subjects. The researcher then arranged the subjects’ faces into emotional expressions—smiles and frowns—without their realizing it, simply by asking them to contract various muscles.

The T-groups brought together a small number of strangers with the goal of teaching them how to function better in groups. The participants spent two to three weeks together to give them sufficient time to reorient their behavior and solidify their new psyche before returning to their communities. One of the critical features of T-groups is feedback—a concept that was just then being popularized by Norbert Wiener in his work in the new field of cybernetics. As part of the sensitivity training, each participant is asked to share his or her own perceptions of everyone else in the group. In doing so, the individual often reveals as much about himself—his attitudes, biases, emotional concerns, and his preconceived ideas and opinions about human nature and relationships, and so forth, all of which, in turn, become the subject of feedback from others.


America in the World by Robert B. Zoellick

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Corn Laws, coronavirus, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, energy security, European colonialism, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, foreign exchange controls, hypertext link, Ida Tarbell, illegal immigration, immigration reform, imperial preference, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, linear model of innovation, Mikhail Gorbachev, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, Nixon triggered the end of the Bretton Woods system, Norbert Wiener, Paul Samuelson, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, undersea cable, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty

He grew up in an era of invention—gas-powered cars, airplanes, X-rays for medicine, commercial motion pictures—and the expanding technologies of telephony, the phonograph, electricity, and the radio. Bush combined a high aptitude for math with a tinker’s spirit. He liked to shape things with his hands. The mathematician Norbert Wiener later described Bush as “one of the greatest apparatus men that America has ever seen—he thinks with his hands as well as his brain.”12 Bush’s attributes and interests drew him toward engineering. Zachary explains that Bush’s idea of an engineer was a “pragmatic polymath.” Bush described the engineer as “not primarily a physicist, or a businessman, or an inventor but [someone] who would acquire some of the skills and knowledge of each of these and be capable of successfully developing and applying new devices on the grand scale.”

Smith, American Science Policy Since World War II (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1990), 3–6 places Bush in the larger context of science policy development. Smith notes three phases, with Bush’s work critical to the first phase. 11. Zachary, Endless Frontier, 8, 23; Isaacson, Innovators, 218. 12. Zachary, Endless Frontier, 8, 21–22. For the original Wiener quote, see Norbert Wiener, I Am a Mathematician: The Later Life of a Prodigy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1964), 112. 13. See Zachary, Endless Frontier, 4 (for quotes) and 28 (organizing people). 14. See Zachary, Endless Frontier, 8 (moral code) and 149 (“public entrepreneur” phrase of Eugene Lewis). 15. When I was the U.S. trade representative—leading a small, entrepreneurial agency that had to coordinate with many others—my guidance to colleagues was, “Just keep pressing until someone says no, and then we’ll figure out what to do next.”


pages: 362 words: 97,862

Physics in Mind: A Quantum View of the Brain by Werner Loewenstein

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, complexity theory, dematerialisation, discovery of DNA, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, informal economy, information trail, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, Richard Feynman, stem cell, trade route, Turing machine

Well, you would be wrong. Mathematicians themselves insist that some of their most profound thinking is unconscious. There is firsthand testimony in a fascinating book by the mathematician Jacques Hadamard, in which he offers his insights and those of two other distinguished mathematicians, George Polya and Norbert Wiener. All three stress that many of their cogitations are unconscious. There is no shortage of other testimony of this sort, and quite a few go further back. Poincaré, for example, describes in one of his lectures how the crucial idea for one of his famous theorems (on the fuchsian function) suddenly came to him as he put his foot on the steps of a bus coming from the town of Coutances.


pages: 323 words: 95,939

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global pandemic, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, lateral thinking, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tragedy of the Commons, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero-sum game

As writer Archibald MacLeish described it, “To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know now that they are truly brothers.”11 Soon after that, the development of the Internet—also an outgrowth of the Cold War funding—concretized this sense of lateral, peer-to-peer relationships between people in a network. Hierarchies of command and control began losing ground to networks of feedback and iteration. A new way of modeling and gaming the activities of people would have to be found. The idea of bringing feedback into the mix came from the mathematician Norbert Wiener, back in the 1940s, shortly after his experiences working for the military on navigation and antiaircraft weapons. He had realized that it’s much harder to plan for every eventuality in advance than simply to change course as conditions change. As Wiener explained it to his peers, a boat may set a course for a destination due east, but then wind and tides push the boat toward the south.


pages: 420 words: 100,811

We Are Data: Algorithms and the Making of Our Digital Selves by John Cheney-Lippold

algorithmic bias, bioinformatics, Cass Sunstein, centre right, computer vision, dark matter, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Filter Bubble, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Ian Bogost, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, lifelogging, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, Mercator projection, meta-analysis, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, price discrimination, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software studies, statistical model, Steven Levy, technological singularity, technoutopianism, the scientific method, Thomas Bayes, Toyota Production System, Turing machine, uber lyft, web application, WikiLeaks, Zimmermann PGP

Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended,” 249. 63. Mauricio Santillana, D. Wendong Zhang, Benjamin Althouse, and John Ayers, “What Can Digital Disease Detection Learn from (an External Revision to) Google Flu Trends?,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 47, no. 3 (2014): 341–347. 64. Ibid. 65. See Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics; or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1961); William Ashby, Introduction to Cybernetics (London: Methuen, 1979); Heinz Von Foerster, Understanding Understanding: Essays on Cybernetics and Cognition (New York: Springer, 2002). 66.


pages: 350 words: 98,077

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, Bernie Sanders, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dark matter, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, ImageNet competition, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Mark Zuckerberg, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, performance metric, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, tail risk, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

HAL, unlike Asimov’s clueless robot, suffers from the psychological pain of this cognitive dissonance: “He was … aware of the conflict that was slowly destroying his integrity—the conflict between truth, and concealment of truth.”17 The result is a computer “neurosis” that turns HAL into a killer. Reflecting on real-life machine morality, the mathematician Norbert Wiener noted as long ago as 1960 that “we had better be quite sure that the purpose put into the machine is the purpose which we really desire.”18 Wiener’s comment captures what is called the value alignment problem in AI: the challenge for AI programmers to ensure that their systems’ values align with those of humans.


pages: 346 words: 97,890

The Road to Conscious Machines by Michael Wooldridge

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, algorithmic bias, Andrew Wiles, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, basic income, British Empire, call centre, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, DARPA: Urban Challenge, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, factory automation, future of work, gig economy, Google Glasses, intangible asset, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Loebner Prize, Minecraft, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Von Neumann architecture

The Turing Test The development of the first computers in the late 1940s and early 1950s prompted a flurry of public debate about the potential of these wondrous feats of modern science. One of the highest-profile contributions to the debate at the time was a book entitled Cybernetics, written by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) mathematics professor called Norbert Wiener. The book made explicit parallels between machines and animal brains and nervous systems, and touched on many ideas relating to AI. It attracted huge public interest, despite the fact that it was surely incomprehensible to any but the most dedicated and mathematically adept reader. Questions such as whether machines could ‘think’ began to be seriously debated in the press and on radio shows (in 1951, Turing himself participated in a BBC radio show on this very subject).


pages: 502 words: 107,657

Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die by Eric Siegel

Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, backtesting, Black Swan, book scanning, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, butter production in bangladesh, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, commoditize, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data is the new oil, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental subject, Google Glasses, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, lifelogging, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mass immigration, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, personalized medicine, placebo effect, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Shai Danziger, software as a service, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Levy, text mining, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Davenport, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Twenty-One Applications of Predictive Analytics Appendix C. Prediction People—Cast of “Characters” Notes Acknowledgments About the Author Supplement: A Cross-Industry Compendium of 147 Examples Index Foreword This book deals with quantitative efforts to predict human behavior. One of the earliest efforts to do that was in World War II. Norbert Wiener, the father of “cybernetics,” began trying to predict the behavior of German airplane pilots in 1940—with the goal of shooting them from the sky. His method was to take as input the trajectory of the plane from its observed motion, consider the pilot’s most likely evasive maneuvers, and predict where the plane would be in the near future so that a fired shell could hit it.


pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, disinformation, Downton Abbey, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, Herbert Marcuse, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, microservices, Money creation, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Nixon triggered the end of the Bretton Woods system, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wages for housework, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Yochai Benkler

Deloitte, who did these calculations, describes the falling price of basic info-tech as exponential: ‘The current pace of technological advance is unprecedented in history and shows no signs of stabilizing as other historical technological innovations, such as electricity, eventually did.’26 It has become commonplace to think of information as ‘immaterial’. Norbert Wiener, one of the founders of information theory once claimed: ‘Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.’27 But this is a fallacy. In 1961, IBM physicist Rolf Landauer proved, logically, that information is physical.28 He wrote: ‘Information is not a disembodied abstract entity; it is always tied to a physical representation.


The Future of Money by Bernard Lietaer

agricultural Revolution, banks create money, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, business cycle, clean water, complexity theory, corporate raider, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, diversification, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, Golden Gate Park, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the telephone, invention of writing, Lao Tzu, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, microcredit, Money creation, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Norbert Wiener, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, post-industrial society, price stability, reserve currency, risk free rate, Ronald Reagan, San Francisco homelessness, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, The Future of Employment, the market place, the payments system, Thomas Davenport, trade route, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, two and twenty, working poor

We won't any longer be able to identify ourselves with these 'production labels'. In other words, we will be forced to seek other identities, other reasons that give a purpose to our lives. Keynes concluded that 'no country can look forward ... without a dread' to this unprecedented historic shift. Nor was Keynes the only one to foresee such problems. Norbert Wiener, the originator of cybernetics, was also one of the very first to warn us of the social implications of computers: Let us remember that the automatic machine [i.e. computer-driven production equipment] ... is the precise economic equivalent of slave labour. Any labour, which competes with slave labour, must accept economic conditions of slave labour.


pages: 335 words: 107,779

Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson

airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, British Empire, cable laying ship, call centre, cellular automata, edge city, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Hacker Ethic, impulse control, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, Kim Stanley Robinson, music of the spheres, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shock, packet switching, pirate software, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Shenzhen special economic zone , Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social web, Socratic dialogue, South China Sea, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, trade route, Turing machine, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, X Prize

During Leibniz’s era, the only person who had thought seriously about such machines was Leibniz himself; building on earlier work by Blaise Pascal, he designed, and caused to be built, a mechanical computer, and envisioned coupling it to a formal logical system called the Characteristica Universalis. He invented binary arithmetic, and, according to no less an authority than Norbert Wiener, pioneered the idea of feedback. 3. In particular, the monads’ production rule scheme clearly presages the modern concept of cellular automata. Quoting from Mercer’s work: “The Production Rule of F is a rule for the continuous production of the discrete states of F so that it instructs F about exactly what to think at every moment of F’s existence.


Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold

A Pattern Language, augmented reality, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business climate, citizen journalism, computer vision, conceptual framework, creative destruction, disinformation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, experimental economics, experimental subject, Extropian, Garrett Hardin, Hacker Ethic, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hockey-stick growth, Howard Rheingold, invention of the telephone, inventory management, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Metcalfe's law, Metcalfe’s law, more computing power than Apollo, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, pez dispenser, planetary scale, pre–internet, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, slashdot, social intelligence, spectrum auction, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, ultimatum game, urban planning, web of trust, Whole Earth Review, Yochai Benkler, zero-sum game

By now, he’s been mediating reality for most of his life. Mann, now a professor at the University of Toronto, has wanted to be a cyborg since he was a teen. “Cyborg” stands for “cybernetic organism,” a word coined by Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline and popularized by the inventor of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener, to represent a merger of human and synthetic components. To many, the word and all it evokes is a chilly vision, mechanical and dehumanized, the ultimate bitter victory of technophilia at the expense of all that is humane about humans. Mann has always thought differently, and he wrote a passionate manifesto in 2001 that struck a chord with me after I had spent a year tasting augmented realities: Rather than smart rooms, smart cars, smart toilets, etc., I would like to put forward the notion of smart people.


pages: 453 words: 111,010

Licence to be Bad by Jonathan Aldred

"Robert Solow", Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, feminist movement, framing effect, Frederick Winslow Taylor, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, full employment, George Akerlof, glass ceiling, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, nudge unit, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, positional goods, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, spectrum auction, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators, zero-sum game

Quoted in Morgenstern (1976), ‘The Collaboration between Oskar Morgenstern and John von Neumann on the Theory of Games’, Journal of Economic Literature, 14 (3), 810. 7 Morgenstern’s diary, April–May 1942. Quoted in Leonard, Robert J. (1995), ‘From Parlor Games to Social Science: Von Neumann, Morgenstern, and the Creation of Game Theory 1928–1944’, Journal of Economic Literature, 33 (2), 730. 8 Nasar, 94. 9 Ibid. 10 Quoted in Heims, S. (1980). John Von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death (Cambridge: MIT Press), 327. 11 Quoted in Poundstone, W. (1992), Prisoner’s Dilemma (New York: Anchor Books), 168. 12 Quoted in Ferguson, N. (2017), The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook (London: Allen Lane), 260. 13 Hertzberg, H. (2001), ‘Comment: Tuesday, and After’, New Yorker, 24 September 2001, 27.


pages: 302 words: 82,233

Beautiful security by Andy Oram, John Viega

Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, corporate governance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, defense in depth, Donald Davies, en.wikipedia.org, fault tolerance, Firefox, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, market design, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Nick Leeson, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, packet switching, peer-to-peer, performance metric, pirate software, Robert Bork, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, security theater, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, statistical model, Steven Levy, The Wisdom of Crowds, Upton Sinclair, web application, web of trust, zero day, Zimmermann PGP

In 2003 he was included on the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum Wall of Fame, and in 2001 he was inducted into the CRN Industry Hall of Fame. In 1999 he received the Louis Brandeis Award from Privacy International, in 1998 a Lifetime Achievement Award from CONTRIBUTORS 267 Secure Computing Magazine, and in 1996 the Norbert Wiener Award from Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility for promoting the responsible use of technology. In 1995, Newsweek named Zimmermann one of the “Net 50,” the 50 most influential people on the Internet. Zimmermann received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Florida Atlantic University in 1978.


pages: 396 words: 112,748

Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

Benoit Mandelbrot, business cycle, butterfly effect, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, discrete time, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, experimental subject, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Herbert Marcuse, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Murray Gell-Mann, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, trade route

address at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, 29 December 1979. SUPPOSE THE EARTH Yorke. “PREDICTION, NOTHING” Lorenz, White. THERE MUST BE A LINK “The Mechanics of Vacillation.” FOR WANT OF A NAIL George Herbert; cited in this context by Norbert Wiener, “Nonlinear Prediction and Dynamics,” in Collected Works with Commentaries, ed. P. Masani (Cambridge, Mass.: The M.I.T. Press, 1981), 3:371. Wiener anticipated Lorenz in seeing at least the possibility of “self-amplitude of small details of the weather map.” He noted, “A tornado is a highly local phenomenon, and apparent trifles of no great extent may determine its exact track.”


pages: 420 words: 119,928

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth's Past) by Cixin Liu

back-to-the-land, cosmic microwave background, Deng Xiaoping, game design, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Norbert Wiener, Panamax, RAND corporation, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Von Neumann architecture

Of course, if we can’t figure out the pattern of the suns’ movements soon, the end of the world will not be too far away.” He bowed at Wang as well, a more modern bow. “Von Neumann.” “Didn’t you bring us thousands of miles to the East specifically to solve the problem of calculating these equations?” Newton asked. Then he turned to Wang. “Norbert Wiener and that degenerate who just ran away also came with us. We encountered some pirates near Madagascar. Wiener fought the pirates by himself so that the rest of us could escape, and he died valiantly.” “Why did you have to come to the East to build a computer?” Wang asked Von Neumann. Von Neumann and Newton looked at each other, puzzled.


A People’s History of Computing in the United States by Joy Lisi Rankin

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, Apple II, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, computer age, corporate social responsibility, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, Howard Zinn, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pink-collar, profit motive, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the market place, urban planning, Whole Earth Catalog, wikimedia commons

Other speakers included John Mauchly, well known to this community as the cocreator of World War II’s ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), Amer­i­ca’s first 112 A ­People’s History of Computing in the United States electronic computer; Marvin Minsky, the codirector of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence group; and Norbert Wiener, a leading proponent of cybernetics, an influential approach to scientific prob­lems of control and communication. McCarthy was in good com­pany, then, when he delivered his centennial lecture “Time-­Sharing Computer Systems”; what has been overlooked about McCarthy’s lecture is that he advocated for both time-­sharing and a public computing utility.


pages: 1,172 words: 114,305

New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI by Frank Pasquale

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, algorithmic bias, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, basic income, battle of ideas, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, commoditize, computer vision, conceptual framework, coronavirus, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Covid-19, COVID-19, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, decarbonisation, deskilling, digital twin, disinformation, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, finite state, Flash crash, future of work, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, high net worth, hiring and firing, Ian Bogost, independent contractor, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, late capitalism, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, medical malpractice, meta-analysis, Modern Monetary Theory, Money creation, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, obamacare, paradox of thrift, pattern recognition, payday loans, personalized medicine, Peter Singer: altruism, Philip Mirowski, pink-collar, Plutocrats, plutocrats, pre–internet, profit motive, QR code, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, smart cities, smart contracts, software is eating the world, South China Sea, Steve Bannon, surveillance capitalism, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, telepresence, telerobotics, The Future of Employment, Therac-25, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing test, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, wage slave, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working poor, Works Progress Administration, zero day

Frank Pasquale, “Reclaiming Egalitarianism in the Political Theory of Campaign Finance Reform,” University of Illinois Law Review (2008): 599–660. 6. AUTONOMOUS FORCES 1. David Silver, Julian Schrittwieser, Karen Simonyan, Ioannis Antonoglou, Aja Huang, Arthur Guez, Thomas Hubert et al., “Mastering the Game of Go without Human Knowledge,” Nature 550 (2017): 354–359. 2. Peter Galison, “The Ontology of the Enemy: Norbert Wiener and the Cybernetic Vision,” Critical Inquiry 21 (1994): 228–266. 3. Future of Life Institute, “Slaughterbots,” YouTube, November 13, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HipTO_7mUOw; Jessica Cussins, “AI Researchers Create Video to Call for Autonomous Weapons Ban at UN,” Future of Life Institute, November 14, 2017, https://futureoflife.org/2017/11/14/ai-researchers-create-video-call-autonomous-weapons-ban-un/?


pages: 472 words: 117,093

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, AI winter, Airbnb, airline deregulation, airport security, Albert Einstein, algorithmic bias, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, backtesting, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, British Empire, business cycle, business process, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, complexity theory, computer age, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, discovery of DNA, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, family office, fiat currency, financial innovation, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, independent contractor, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, law of one price, longitudinal study, Lyft, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta-analysis, Mitch Kapor, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Plutocrats, plutocrats, precision agriculture, prediction markets, pre–internet, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Snapchat, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, the strength of weak ties, Thomas Davenport, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, transportation-network company, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, yield management, zero day

.” ††† Very briefly, the answers to these questions are yes, kind of, and no. PART 1 MIND AND MACHINE CHAPTER 2 THE HARDEST THING TO ACCEPT ABOUT OURSELVES The tendency of these new machines is to replace human judgment on all levels but a fairly high one, rather than to replace human energy and power by machine energy and power. — Norbert Wiener, 1949 ABOUT TWENTY YEARS AGO, BUSINESSES AROUND THE WORLD settled on a division of work between people and computers that seemed very sensible. The machines would take care of basic math, record keeping, and data transmission. This would free up people to make decisions, exercise judgment, use their creativity and intuition, and interact with each other to solve problems and take care of customers.


pages: 481 words: 125,946

What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence by John Brockman

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, constrained optimization, corporate personhood, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, dark matter, discrete time, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, functional fixedness, global pandemic, Google Glasses, hive mind, Ian Bogost, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, loose coupling, microbiome, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, social intelligence, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Because of the power and influence of industrial technology, he believed that political power would flow to engineers, whose deep knowledge of technology would be transformed into control of the emerging industrial economy. It certainly didn’t work out that way. Veblen was speaking to the Progressive Era, looking for a middle ground between Marxism and capitalism. Perhaps his timing was off, but his basic point, as echoed some thirty years later at the dawn of the computer era by Norbert Wiener, may yet be proved correct. Perhaps Veblen wasn’t wrong, merely premature. Today, the engineers who design the artificial-intelligence-based programs and robots have a tremendous influence over how we use them. As computer systems are woven more deeply into the fabric of everyday life, the tension between intelligence augmentation and artificial intelligence becomes increasingly visible.


pages: 566 words: 122,184

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold

Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Eratosthenes, Grace Hopper, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, millennium bug, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, popular electronics, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture

Information theory is concerned with transmitting digital information in the presence of noise (which usually prevents all the information from getting through) and how to compensate for that. In 1949, he wrote the first article about programming a computer to play chess, and in 1952 he designed a mechanical mouse controlled by relays that could learn its way around a maze. Shannon was also well known at Bell Labs for riding a unicycle and juggling simultaneously. Norbert Wiener (1894–1964), who earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard at the age of 18, is most famous for his book Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and Machine (1948). He coined the word cybernetics (derived from the Greek for steersman) to identify a theory that related biological processes in humans and animals to the mechanics of computers and robots.


pages: 394 words: 118,929

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg

A Pattern Language, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, Bill Atkinson, c2.com, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, functional programming, George Santayana, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Larry Wall, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, Mitch Kapor, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Therac-25, thinkpad, Turing test, VA Linux, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

For decades it would inspire visionary inventors to devise balky new technologies in an effort to deliver an upgrade to the human brain. By far the most ambitious and influential acolyte of the Memex dream was Douglas Engelbart, best known today as the father of the computer mouse. Engelbart, a former radar technician and student of Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics, woke up one day in 1950 with an epiphany: The world had so many problems, of such accelerating complexity, that humankind’s only hope of mastering them was to find ways to get smarter faster. He vowed to devote his life to developing a “Framework for the Augmentation of Human Intellect.”


pages: 402 words: 126,835

The Job: The Future of Work in the Modern Era by Ellen Ruppel Shell

3D printing, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, big-box store, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer vision, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, follow your passion, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, game design, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, immigration reform, income inequality, independent contractor, industrial robot, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban renewal, WeWork, white picket fence, working poor, Y Combinator, young professional, zero-sum game

(As filmmaker Alex Rivera put it in his cult hit Sleep Dealer, “all the work without the worker.”) Amazon’s own website all but confirms this charge, boasting that the company “significantly lowers costs” by “leveraging the skills of Mechanical Turk Workers from around the world.” MIT mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener once warned that under capitalism the very job of new technology was to intensify the exploitation of workers. “Crowd-sourced” work marketplaces have certainly contributed to this problem. Many labor advocates and scholars believe that online platforms like MTurk are ripe for disruption, and some have designed alternatives.


pages: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Garrett Hardin, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, Tragedy of the Commons, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

Each node had no accountability, so nodes could accumulate in a “friction-free” way, even though there is no such thing as a free lunch, and the friction would surely appear later on in some fashion. We were all impatient and bored and leapt at the thrill of quick adoption. Ted was the source point for much of what we hold familiar today. For instance, he called the new medium “hypertext.” Ted was very fond of cyber-, which originally related to navigation, and which Norbert Wiener adopted into cybernetics because navigation was a great example of the core process of feedback in an information system. But Ted’s preferred prefix was hyper-, which, he once told me, when I must have still been a teenager, also captured something of the frenetic edge that digital obsessions seem to bring into human character.


pages: 436 words: 127,642

When Einstein Walked With Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought by Jim Holt

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, cellular automata, computer age, dark matter, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Edmond Halley, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fellow of the Royal Society, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, George Santayana, haute couture, Henri Poincaré, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, luminiferous ether, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Monty Hall problem, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Paul Erdős, Peter Singer: altruism, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, random walk, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, Skype, stakhanovite, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, union organizing, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, wage slave

Neither his uncle Szolem nor his dissertation committee (headed by Louis de Broglie, one of the founders of quantum theory) paid much heed to his effort to explain the significance of power laws, and for a long time thereafter Mandelbrot was the only mathematician to take such laws and their long tails seriously—which is why, when their importance was finally appreciated half a century later, he became known as the father of long tails. Having launched himself with his offbeat thesis as a “solo scientist,” Mandelbrot sought out other similarly innovative mathematicians. One such was Norbert Wiener, the founder (and coiner) of “cybernetics,” the science of how systems ranging from telephone switchboards to the human brain are controlled by feedback loops. Another was John von Neumann, the creator of game theory (and much else). To Mandelbrot, these two men were “made of stardust.” He served as postdoc to both: first to Wiener at MIT, and then to von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he had a nightmarish experience.


pages: 416 words: 129,308

The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant

Airbnb, animal electricity, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Hangouts, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, John Gruber, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Lyft, M-Pesa, MITM: man-in-the-middle, more computing power than Apollo, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, pirate software, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, Shenzhen special economic zone , Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, special economic zone, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Tim Cook: Apple, Turing test, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, Vannevar Bush, zero day

Albert Robida’s The Twentieth Century is a portentous look at how audiovisual technologies might evolve. Other sources include “As We May Think” by Vannevar Bush, which imagines the future of human knowledge augmentation and the memex; J.C.R. Licklider’s Man-Computer Symbiosis, which half predicted the iPhone through a skewed lens; Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics, which outlines the ways that a computer control system can influence lives; and Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg’s Personal Dynamic Media, which outlined a vision for personal computing that would set the enduring standard. The core of the chapter is Frank Canova, who was kind enough to demo the original Simon for me and whom I interviewed at his office in Santa Clara. 2.


pages: 505 words: 142,118

A Man for All Markets by Edward O. Thorp

3Com Palm IPO, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, Bear Stearns, beat the dealer, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, buy and hold, buy low sell high, caloric restriction, caloric restriction, carried interest, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Edward Thorp, Erdős number, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, Garrett Hardin, George Santayana, German hyperinflation, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, High speed trading, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jeff Bezos, John Meriwether, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Arrow, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, Mason jar, merger arbitrage, Murray Gell-Mann, Myron Scholes, NetJets, Norbert Wiener, passive investing, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, publish or perish, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Richard Feynman, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical arbitrage, stem cell, stocks for the long run, survivorship bias, tail risk, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Predators' Ball, the rule of 72, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Tragedy of the Commons, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Vanguard fund, Vilfredo Pareto, Works Progress Administration

Whether to try for this was a difficult decision. MIT had become one of the world’s great mathematics centers, following its transformation by projects for the government during World War II from a technical school to a scientific powerhouse. Simply walking down the hall, I would chat with people like the prodigy Professor Norbert Wiener (cybernetics) and the future Abel Prize winner Isadore Singer. The C. L. E. Moore Instructorship program, of which I was part, had brought in new PhDs like John Nash, who later won the Nobel for economics, and future Fields Medal winner Paul Cohen. Though there’s no Nobel Prize for mathematics, the Fields and the Abel prizes have that status.


pages: 454 words: 139,350

Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy by Benjamin Barber

airport security, anti-communist, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, computer age, Corn Laws, Corrections Corporation of America, David Brooks, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Gilder, global village, invisible hand, Joan Didion, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, late capitalism, Live Aid, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, Norbert Wiener, North Sea oil, pirate software, postnationalism / post nation state, profit motive, race to the bottom, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, undersea cable, young professional, zero-sum game

Tom Peters, Liberation Management: Necessary Disorganization for the Nano-second Nineties (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), p. 6. 15. William Gibson, with his trilogy of works in the early eighties (Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive), introduced the notion of cyberspace (from Norbert Wiener’s classic study of interactive communications technology and cybernetics in the late forties) into general parlance. Technically, the term refers to the invisible electronic information space between the computer keyboard (input) and the computer screen (output). The New York Times devoted nearly an entire issue of its Book Review to computer-generated books and the literary culture of cyberspace in 1994, and since then it has reviewed CD-ROM “books” as well. 16.


pages: 422 words: 131,666

Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back by Douglas Rushkoff

addicted to oil, affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, anti-globalists, banks create money, Bear Stearns, big-box store, Bretton Woods, car-free, Charles Lindbergh, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, Firefox, full employment, global village, Google Earth, greed is good, Herbert Marcuse, Howard Rheingold, income per capita, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, negative equity, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, peak oil, peer-to-peer, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, private military company, profit maximization, profit motive, prosperity theology / prosperity gospel / gospel of success, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social software, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, union organizing, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Victor Gruen, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, young professional, zero-sum game

In contradiction to popular mythology about them, these researchers had less allegiance to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. military than they did to the pure pursuit of knowledge and the expansion of human capabilities. Although their budgets may have come partly from the Pentagon, their aims were decidedly nonmilitary As seminal essays by World War II technologists Vannevar Bush, Norbert Wiener, and J.C.R. Licklider made clear, the job before them was to convert a wartime technology industry into a peacetime leap forward for humanity. Bush, FDR’s former war advisor, wrote of a hypothetical computer or “Memex” machine he intended as an extension of human memory. Wiener, the founder of “cybernetics,” believed that lessons in feedback learned by the Air Force during the war could be applied to a vast range of technologies, giving machines the ability to extend the senses and abilities of real people.


pages: 377 words: 21,687

Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight by David A. Mindell

1960s counterculture, Charles Lindbergh, computer age, deskilling, fault tolerance, interchangeable parts, Mars Rover, more computing power than Apollo, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand, telepresence, telerobotics

The Oxford English Dictionary shows that uses of the term system exploded after 1950, including systems engineering, systems analysis, systems dynamics, general systems theory, and a host of others.48 Each field had its own innovators, its own emphasis, and its own home institutions and professions, but they shared common concerns with feedback, dynamics, flows, block diagrams, human-machine interaction, signals, simulation, and the exciting new possibilities of computers.49 Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics (1948) exemplified the trend, arguing that feedback control and statistics evoked analogies between computers and organisms, social systems, even the mind itself.50 The idea of the cyborg, part human, part machine, emerged as Wiener-inspired NACA researchers considered the future mix of mechanical and organic necessary for spaceflight.51 Chauffeurs and Airmen in the Age of Systems 37 The management aspects of systems engineering formalized in the mid-1950s when the air force stretched its resources to quickly build an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).


pages: 528 words: 146,459

Computer: A History of the Information Machine by Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray, Nathan L. Ensmenger, Jeffrey R. Yost

Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, Byte Shop, card file, cashless society, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer age, deskilling, don't be evil, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, garden city movement, Grace Hopper, hockey-stick growth, Ian Bogost, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the wheel, Jacquard loom, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, light touch regulation, linked data, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pirate software, popular electronics, prediction markets, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the market place, Turing machine, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, young professional

Instead, most individuals who viewed computers as tools for liberation were politically agnostic, more focused on forming alternative communities, and inclined to embrace new technology as a means to better achieve personal liberty and human happiness—what one scholar has labeled as the “New Communalists.” Stewart Brand, Stanford University biology graduate turned publishing entrepreneur, became a leading voice for the New Communalists through creating The Whole Earth Catalog. Deeply influenced by cybernetics visionary Norbert Wiener, electronics media theorist Marshall McLuhan, and architect and designer Buckminster Fuller, Brand pressed NASA to publicly release a satellite photo of the Earth in 1966. Two years later the photo adorned the cover of the first edition of The Whole Earth Catalog. Publishing regularly between 1968 and 1971, Brand’s catalog identified and promoted key products or tools for communal living and, in doing so, sought to help “transform the individual into a capable, creative person.”


pages: 696 words: 143,736

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, backpropagation, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, fudge factor, functional programming, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, information retrieval, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jacquard loom, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, the medium is the message, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

Cybernetic chauffeur Self-driving cars that use special sensors in the roads. Self driving cars are being experimented with in the late 1990s, with implementation on major highways feasible during the first decade of the twenty-first century. Cybernetic poet A computer program that is able to create original poetry. Cybernetics A term coined by Norbert Wiener to describe the “science of control and communication in animals and machines.” Cybernetics is based on the theory that intelligent living beings adapt to their environments and accomplish objectives primarily by reacting to feedback from their surroundings. Database The structured collection of data that is designed in connection with an information retrieval system.


pages: 550 words: 154,725

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, Black Swan, business climate, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, Edward Thorp, horn antenna, Hush-A-Phone, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, James Watt: steam engine, Karl Jansky, knowledge economy, Leonard Kleinrock, Metcalfe’s law, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Picturephone, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Russell Ohl, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, traveling salesman, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

It seemed lost on Shannon that the scientist who had declared that any message could be sent through any noisy channel with almost perfect fidelity was now himself a proven exception. Transmissions could reach Claude Shannon. But then they would fail to go any farther. Information theory, in the meantime, was getting ready for the masses. In 1953, one of the premier science journalists of the era, Francis Bello of Fortune magazine, profiled Shannon along with Norbert Wiener, an MIT mathematician who was putting forward theories on the command and control of machines, a discipline closely related to Shannon’s work on information. Wiener called his work cybernetics. “Within the last five years a new theory has appeared that seems to bear some of the same hallmarks of greatness,” Bello wrote.


pages: 513 words: 152,381

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity by Toby Ord

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, availability heuristic, Columbian Exchange, computer vision, cosmological constant, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Ernest Rutherford, global pandemic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, p-value, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, survivorship bias, the scientific method, Tragedy of the Commons, uranium enrichment

At this point an ‘explosion’ will clearly occur; all the problems of science and technology will be handed over to machines and it will no longer be necessary for people to work. Whether this will lead to a Utopia or to the extermination of the human race will depend on how the problem is handled by the machines. The important thing will be to give them the aim of serving human beings.” The AI pioneer Norbert Wiener discussed the problem of retaining human oversight over advanced AI systems (Wiener, 1960): “Though machines are theoretically subject to human criticism, such criticism may be ineffective until long after it is relevant. To be effective in warding off disastrous consequences, our understanding of our man-made machines should in general develop pari passu with the performance of the machine.


pages: 486 words: 150,849

Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History by Kurt Andersen

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, always be closing, American ideology, American Legislative Exchange Council, anti-communist, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bear Stearns, Bernie Sanders, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Burning Man, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, centre right, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, corporate raider, Covid-19, COVID-19, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, Erik Brynjolfsson, feminist movement, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, game design, George Gilder, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Herbert Marcuse, High speed trading, hive mind, income inequality, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jitney, Joan Didion, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, mass incarceration, Menlo Park, Naomi Klein, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Picturephone, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-industrial society, Powell Memorandum, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Seaside, Florida, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, strikebreaker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, urban renewal, very high income, wage slave, Wall-E, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional, éminence grise

Specifically concerning what computers implied for the future of work and jobs, however, the consensus suddenly did the reverse: for two decades, experts had worried about where automation was leading our economy, but starting in the late 1960s the smart set couldn’t wait to get to superautomated Tomorrowland. A significant early worrier had been the mathematician Norbert Wiener—college graduate at fourteen, Harvard professor at nineteen, at MIT the godfather of artificial intelligence—who back in 1948 published Cybernetics, a groundbreaking book that gave a new technological field a name. It was remarkably popular, and talking about it to a reporter back then, Wiener succinctly and accurately foresaw the future of work—that is, our present.


pages: 661 words: 156,009

Your Computer Is on Fire by Thomas S. Mullaney, Benjamin Peters, Mar Hicks, Kavita Philip

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, affirmative action, Airbnb, algorithmic bias, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, Boeing 737 MAX, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, Covid-19, COVID-19, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, dark matter, deskilling, digital map, don't be evil, Donald Davies, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, financial innovation, game design, glass ceiling, global pandemic, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, hiring and firing, IBM and the Holocaust, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, Landlord’s Game, low-wage service sector, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, Menlo Park, meta-analysis, mobile money, moral panic, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, pink-collar, postindustrial economy, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart cities, Snapchat, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, telepresence, the built environment, the map is not the territory, Thomas L Friedman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, undersea cable, union organizing, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, Y2K

—are not yet good enough to represent network nodes and their gaps (even if the roughly fifty billion nodes on the internet stretch even machine abstraction). Rather, it is that such network design visuals are themselves the gaps in the modern understanding of networks.2 To twist that old line often attributed to the mathematician and early information age polymath Norbert Wiener, the best model of a cat is a cat, preferably the same cat: so too is the most reliable model of a complex large-scale network that same network at work in the world. A network on paper or screen is no computer network, and often computer network models obscure what embedded organizations might actually use the network for.


pages: 592 words: 161,798

The Future of War by Lawrence Freedman

Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, British Empire, colonial rule, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, disinformation, Donald Trump, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, Google Glasses, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), John Markoff, long peace, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, open economy, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, the scientific method, uranium enrichment, urban sprawl, Valery Gerasimov, WikiLeaks, zero day

The first was whether one side might be able to configure its nuclear forces so as to launch a disarming first strike, transforming an apparent balance of power into one-sided dominance. The other, even if there was no premium in striking first, was the potential interaction of human failings and technical malfunctions that would turn an otherwise manageable situation into a global cataclysm. Norbert Wiener, who had developed his ideas on cybernetics from his work on anti-aircraft weapons during the Second World War, had become increasingly alarmed at the implications of developing air defence systems which had to work so quickly that there was barely a chance for human intervention.4 The theme of lost control over a situation hurtling towards tragedy was the basis of the movies Dr.


pages: 584 words: 170,388

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

gravity well, invisible hand, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener

The breeze was suddenly cold; I hugged my arms. ‘How does all this . . . Old Earth, the resurrection projects, the cybrids . . . how does it lead to creating the Ultimate Intelligence?’ ‘I don’t know, Brawne. Eight standard centuries ago, at the beginning of the First Information Age, a man named Norbert Wiener wrote: “Can God play a significant game with his own creature? Can any creator, even a limited one, play a significant game with his own creature?” Humanity dealt with this inconclusively with their early AIs. The Core wrestles with it in the resurrection projects. Perhaps the UI program has been completed and all of this remains a function of the ultimate Creature/Creator, a personality whose motives are as far beyond the Core’s understanding as the Core’s are beyond humanity’s.’


pages: 604 words: 161,455

The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life by Robert Wright

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, British Empire, centre right, cognitive dissonance, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, fault tolerance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Garrett Hardin, George Gilder, global village, invention of gunpowder, invention of movable type, invention of the telegraph, invention of writing, invisible hand, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, planetary scale, pre–internet, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, social web, Steven Pinker, talking drums, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, Tragedy of the Commons, your tax dollars at work, zero-sum game

Rosenau, James (1983) “ ‘Fragmegrative’ Challenges to National Security,” in Terry L. Heyns, ed. (1983), Understanding U.S. Strategy: A Reader. National Defense University. ——— (1990) Turbulence in World Politics. Princeton University Press. Rosenau, James, and Ernst-Otto Czempiel, eds. (1992) Governance Without Government. Cambridge University Press. Rosenblueth, Arturo, Norbert Wiener, and Julian Bigelow (1943) “Behavior, Purpose and Teleology.” Philosophy of Science 10: 18–24. Rossabi, Morris, ed. (1983) China Among Equals: The Middle Kingdom and Its Neighbors, 10th–14th Centuries. University of California Press. Rothman, Mitchell S. (1994) “Evolutionary Typologies and Cultural Complexity,” in Stein and Rothman, eds. (1994).


pages: 574 words: 164,509