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Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics (1948, 2nd ed. 1961). This is a disorganized book that mixes super-brief mathematical treatment of statistical mechanics, ergodic theory, control theory and stochastic processes with an explanation of the difference between digital and analog computers, and speculations about learning machines and the human nervous system. It finds the same patterns of control and feedback occurring throughout the world, from the nervous system through society, and notes that while automatic control is not new (centrifugal governors on steam engines were invented by James Watt in the 18th century, and analyzed by James Clerk Maxwell in the 19th, as mentioned in this book), ever more powerful electronic digital computers will carry it to a new level. The book warns that humanity needs to be super-careful not to become a sorcerer's apprentice from the fairy tale, and have its power taken away by mindless computers. In the next 65 years, computers did become far more powerful, but they did not usurp power from humanity because they operate on data humans give to them, and if humans have an incentive to lie, garbage will both flow into the computers and come out of them. The Soviet economy was a classic example. If a factory manager was given a production plan, his compensation depended upon the fulfillment of the plan, but his suppliers let him down, he had an incentive to lie and to bribe any inspectors, and so on down the supply chain through the entire economy. As a child I heard adults say that the Soviet State Planning Committee had an American VAX computer acquired in circumvention of CoCom restrictions; a Cray would add and multiply fake numbers much faster, but the sums and products would be no less fake. A more modern example is the Enron bankruptcy scandal. If Enron executives reported fake profits, no stock-trading computer could understand that they are fake and make them stop; only human prosecutors and judges could.
In the Soviet Union in the early 1950s there was an ideological campaign against cybernetics, "a reactionary pseudoscience", "an ideological weapon of the imperialist reaction." Having read this book, I still don't understand the reason for the campaign. The idea that there are some common control and feedback patterns between mechanisms, animals, the human mind and human society can be construed as contradicting Marxism-Leninism, which proclaims the primacy of matter over immaterial information; at around the same time, genetics was also persecuted, and the idea that the development of an organism follows from the information in its DNA was denounced as a bourgeois pseudoscience. But then, every branch of non-Communist human thought can be construed as contradicting Marxism-Leninism.
Tags: books, science
I'd say more.
Every branch of human thought can be construed as contradicting Marxism-Leninism. That includes Communist human thoughts as well, for example, when they do not adhere to current local direction of party line or when specific Communist human falls out of favor.
|Date:||February 10th, 2013 04:27 am (UTC)|| |
I still don't understand the reason for the campaign
Ну так тогда было такое вемя, когда эти идеологические кампании (не только против разделов науки) шли во множестве и устраивались с энтузиазмом (что-то это мне напоминает, хе-хе). Кибернетика и генетика просто попались под руку (возможно, кто-то удачно подгадал с доносом). на то, чтобы разгромить вообще всю науку, скорее всего просто не хватило ресурсов (ну плюс физику Курчатов с Берией защитили предметно).
|Date:||February 10th, 2013 09:16 am (UTC)|| |
ну да, были ведь нападки и на "еврейскую физику"... пока бомбы не грохнули
вообще, банальное хунвейбинство, по сути
но это как-то не принято обсуждать... это (прямое) сравнение с китайами, а то и с въетнамцами
то ведь были "дикие люди", а в СССР -- самый передовой строй, да