Rise of the Machines: The lost history of cybernetics by Thomas Rid

Reviewed by
October 2016, no. 385
Gary N. Lines reviews 'Rise of the Machines: The lost history of cybernetics' by Thomas Rid

Rise of the Machines: The lost history of cybernetics

by Thomas Rid

Scribe $35 pb, 316 pp, 9781925321425

Rise of the Machines: The lost history of cybernetics by Thomas Rid

Reviewed by
October 2016, no. 385

What is the definition of the postmodern concept known as cybernetics? Englishman and mathematician Thomas Rid, a professor in the War Studies department at King's College, London, comprehensively documents the history of cybernetics in his book Rise of the Machines. First, though, he discusses the problem of defining cybernetics. It seems like a logical place to start. Logical it may be, but easy it isn't.

Cybernetics is a postmodern concept; it resists attempts to be pigeonholed with one universally accepted definition. It employs the usual suspects, such as self-awareness, great promise, paradox, parody, and a god complex. Stafford Beer, a UK theorist, specialising in management cybernetics, relates a joke which sums up the dilemma of defining cybernetics.

Gary N. Lines reviews 'Rise of the Machines: The lost history of cybernetics' by Thomas Rid

Rise of the Machines: The lost history of cybernetics

by Thomas Rid

Scribe $35 pb, 316 pp, 9781925321425

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