The Cybernetics and Society reading group brings together researchers in history, information studies and the social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities, to examine the history of modern information and its changing role in social and economic life, starting in the postwar period. We will begin, therefore, with an investigation of cybernetics and its impact upon a wide range of late 20th century knowledge practices, including game theory, systems engineering, artificial intelligence, STS, theories of language and linguistics, psychoanalysis, anthropology and operations research. As new questions emerge about Big Data—its uses, possibilities and problems—returning to cybernetics provides a useful vantage point for addressing contemporary concerns about the political and social transformations wrought by complex information economies.
The group is open to all and does not presume prior knowledge or technical expertise. Readings will be posted to the group’s website (email firstname.lastname@example.org for details). Meetings will take place once a month. They will be held in the Faculty Meeting Room on the 2nd floor in the History Faculty Building on the Sidgwick Site. Light refreshments will be available.
Session 1: Monday, April 25, 3:00-4:30 pm
Wiener, N. Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine.
Conway, F. and J. Siegelman. Dark Hero of the Information Age.
Session 2: Monday, May 16, 3:00-4:30 pm
Wiener, N. The Human Use of Human Beings.
Galison, P. “The Ontology of the Enemy.”
Mirowski, P. Machine Dreams.
Session 3: Monday, June 6, 3:00-4:30 pm
Ashby, R. Design for a Brain.
Pickering, A. The Cybernetic Brain.
Andrew McKenzie-McHarg (CRASSH) - email@example.com
Nima Paidipaty (History) - firstname.lastname@example.org