By Flo Conway
In the midst of the final century, Norbert Wiener-ex-child prodigy and incredible MIT mathematician -founded the technology of cybernetics, igniting the information-age explosion of pcs, automation, and international telecommunications. Wiener used to be the 1st to articulate the trendy concept of "feedback," and his rules expert the paintings of desktop pioneer John von Neumann, details theorist Claude Shannon, and anthropologists Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead. His best-selling booklet, Cybernetics, catapulted him into the general public highlight, as did his chilling visions of the longer term and his ardent social activism. So what occurred? Why is his paintings nearly unknown at the present time? And what, actually, is Wiener's legacy? during this notable e-book, award-winning newshounds Conway and Siegelman got down to rescue Wiener's genius from obscurity and to discover the various ways that his groundbreaking rules proceed to form our lives. in accordance with a wealth of fundamental resources (including a few newly declassified WW II and chilly War-era files) and unique interviews with Wiener's kinfolk and closest colleagues, the publication finds a very advanced determine, whose high-pressure early life, manic melancholy, and afflicted relationships had a profound impact on his clinical paintings. nobody attracted to the intersection of know-how and tradition probably want to pass over this epic tale of 1 of the 20 th century's so much superb and colourful figures.
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Extra info for Dark Hero Of The Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener The Father of Cybernetics
His time in Europe seemed to provide an antidote. At no time in his letters home from abroad—not during his worst savagings by Russell at Cambridge or as the war descended—did he write openly of depression. But, late in his twenty-third year, the Slough of Despond again befell him. What's more, those earlier passing states of fatigue and nonspecific despair seemed to be congealing into a deeper, cyclical affliction, one characterized by recurring bouts of depression that could shift swiftly into periods of happiness and exultant feelings of well-being.
Drawing on Taylor's ideas, and on his own studies at Trinity with G. H. Hardy of the Lebesgue integral, a statistical method invented a few years earlier by the Frenchman Henri Lebesguc to measure complex sets of scattered points and curves, Wiener began to pry open the conundrum. To Wiener, those stock items in the mathematician's inventory—points and curves—resembled the spray of water droplets and skittering waves on the river. He tried plotting their complex paths using simple statistical methods of averaging and approximation, the most basic mathematical methods for analyzing random or uncertain events, and Lebesgue's newer, more sophisticated statistical method.
He sent preprints to Eliot, who responded with measured enthusiasm. At their bleak Christmas dinner, served as the fighting was heating up across the Channel, the Elephant's Child and the young literary lion chewed gamely on the new philosophical trends—two young men mulling over the demise of the old and the shock of the new. "You seem to be doing philosophy rather than math," Eliot observed before their dinner, pleased to see that Wiener had not fallen under the spell of Russell's new logic, which he could not fathom.
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