What is Cybernetics?

Meaning of Cybernetics

Cybernetics is a poorly understood and primarily philosophical interdisciplinary field of study. It has been applied to physical and spatial relationships, social theory, and computer science, to name just a few of the many areas it touches on.

Cybernetics is defined as the study of control and communication processes in mechanical, electronic, and biological systems.

Essentially it is the study of how complex systems work through the use of information, feedback and interaction. On an individual level, for example, cybernetics looks at how a person can achieve his goals by planning and reacting to all the conditions and stimuli he encounters in the world around him; in other words, information and feedback on the system in which he or she lives.

The modern use of the word is attributed to Norbert Wiener, a 20th-century American engineer and mathematician, who defined it in the 1940s as the science of communication and control in animals and machines.

Many other definitions soon emerged and have continued to emerge, thus cybernetics is widely regarded as a fuzzy theoretical concept. Some experts think of cyber as the science of effective organization, and others think of it as focusing on form and pattern.

Cybernetic theory has four components: variety, circularity, process, and observation. Variety involves all the possible combinations of input and output in a given system: the conditions that can occur and the possible outcomes, depending on the choices that are made. Circularity refers to self-regulation based on feedback. The process is simply how the system works.

Observation implies decision making within the system.

As an interdisciplinary field, cybernetics is used in many areas of science, including mathematics, biology, engineering, and psychology. Its best known application is computing, in which it has been used in the development of technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and simulation.

Although the prefix ” cyber ” has been used in reference to computers or, more often, the Internet, cybernetics deals with more than just mechanical or electronic systems.

Among the nonmechanical systems to which it has been applied are the human brain, the environment, society, and economies—basically any system in which feedback is used to make changes in an effort to achieve a desired outcome.

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