Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften
19/2008/4: Geschichte der Kybernetik


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Editorial

Geschichte der Kybernetik

 

Albert Müller

Zur Geschichte der Kybernetik. Ein Zwischenstand, ÖZG 19/2008/4, 6-27. [Abstract]

 

Stuart A. Umpleby

A Short History of Cybernetics in the United States, ÖZG 19/2008/4, 28-40. [Abstract]

 

Peter Asaro

Computer als Modelle des Geistes. Über Simulation und das Gehirn als Modell des Designs von Computern, ÖZG 19/2008/4, 41-72. [Abstract]

 

Margit Rosen

The control of control - Gordon Pasks kybernetische Ästhetik, ÖZG 19/2008/4, 73-110. [Abstract]

  

Gespräche

 

Kybernetik in Österreich. Ein Gespräch zwischen Robert Trappl und Albert Müller, ÖZG 19/2008/4, 113-125

 

Kybernetik in Urbana. Ein Gespräch zwischen Paul Weston, Jan Müggenburg und James Andrew Hutchinson, ÖZG 19/2008/4, 126-139

 

Forum

 

Wolfgang Neurath

Neue Perspektiven für die Geschichtswissenschaft durch Soziale Netzwerkanalyse (SNA), ÖZG 19/2008/4, 140-153

 


 

Editorial, ÖZG 19/2008/4, 5

 

Geschichte der Kybernetik

 

Nicht zum ersten Mal beschäftigt sich die Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften mit Problemen von Kybernetik, Systemtheorie und Konstruktivismus. Und auch diesmal sind es die Unabgeschlossenheit der Fragen und die Vorläufigkeit der möglichen Antworten, die uns faszinieren.

 

Einleitend skizziert Albert Müller den aktuellen Zwischenstand der wissenschaftsgeschichtlichen Forschungen zu einer Geschichte der Kybernetik. Stuart Umpleby gibt eine hilfreiche Übersicht über die Geschichte der Gründungen und Ausdifferenzierungen kybernetischer Forschung unter verschiedenen Begriffen: Computer science, artificial intelligence, robotics, systems engineering, cybernetics of so cial systems, biofeedback, management cybernetics  u. a. Peter Asaro beschäftigt sich mit einem zentralen Thema der Geschichte der Kybernetik in den 1940er und 1950er Jahren: den Leitmotiven, Gehirn-Modellen und Metaphern, die beim Bau der ersten Computer-Maschinen wegweisend waren. Margit Rosen setzt sich mit den künstlerischen Beiträgen des englischen Kybernetikers Gordon Pask auseinander. Von MusiColour  bis zum Colloquy of Mobiles  reicht die von ihr vorgestellte Reihe kunstvoll gebauter und künstlerischer Computer-Maschinen. Rosen macht uns auch mit der Logik von Pasks berühmten Lehr- und Lernmaschinen vertraut.

 

Zwei Gespräche liefern nicht nur Anekdoten zur Geschichte der Kybernetik. Albert Müller spricht mit Robert Trappl, emeritierter Professor für Medizinische Kybernetik und Artificial Intelligence, über die schwierigen Anfänge der kybernetischen Forschung in Österreich in den 1960er Jahren. Jan Müggenburg und Jamie Hutchinson fragen den renommierten Kybernetiker Paul Weston nach Erinnerungen an seine jahrelange Zusammenarbeit mit Heinz von Foerster am Biological Computer Laboratory  in Urbana, Illinois.

 

Wolfgang Neurath gibt einen Überblick über die Möglichkeiten der Sozialen Netzwerkanalyse (SNA) und plädiert für deren Anwendung in geschichtswissenschaftlichen Forschungsprojekten, in denen es auf die Rekonstruktion der Struktur und der Veränderung von sozialen Netzwerken ankommt.

 

Albert Müller (Wien)

 

 

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Abstracts, ÖZG 19/2008/4, 111-112

 

Albert Müller: On the History of Cybernetics: an Interim Report, pp. 6-27

 

The article starts by reminding on the wide spread popular use of the term 'cybernetics' in composita such as 'cyberspace' which seems to be in apparent contrast with the lacking success of cybernetics in academia. The article deals with the indetermination of cybernetics which always provided a certain amount of openness. A survey of the history of cybernetics is made including ego-documents and oral history as produced by cyberneticians themselves as well as recent contributions from the side of history of science and technology. Against Peter Galison’s widely repeated verdict of cybernetics as a kind of war-science it is argued that cybernetics has an interesting tradition as a social science as well as a source of societal reforms.

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Stuart A. Umpleby: A Short History of Cybernetics in the United States, pp. 28-40

 

Key events in the history of cybernetics and the American Society for Cybernetics are discussed, among them the origin of cybernetics in the Macy Foundation conferences in the late 1940s and early 1950s; different interpretations of cybernetics by several professional societies; reasons why the U.S. government did or did not support cybernetics in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s; early experiments in cyberspace in the 1970s; conversations with Soviet scientists in the 1980s; the development of "second order" cybernetics; and increased interest in cybernetics in Europe and the United States in the 2000s, due at least in part to improved understanding of the assumptions underlying the cybernetics movement. The history of cybernetics in the United States is viewed from the perspective of the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) and several questions are addressed as to its future.

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Peter Asaro: Computers as Models of the Mind: On Simulations and the Infl uence of Brains on the Design of Computers, pp. 41-72

 

The article considers the complexities of thinking about the computer as a model of the mind. It examines the computer as being a model of the brain in several very different senses of 'model'. On the one hand the basic architecture of the first modern stored-program computers was "modeled on" the brain by John von Neumann. Von Neumann also sought to build a mathematical model of the biological brain as a complex system. A similar but different approach to modeling the brain was taken by Alan Turing, who on the one hand believed that the mind simply was a universal computer, and who sought to show how brain-like networks could self-organize into Universal Turing Machines. And on the other hand, Turing saw the computer as the universal machine that could simulate any other machine, and thus any particular human skill and thereby could simulate human intelligence. This leads to a discussion of the nature of 'simulation' and its relation to models and modeling. The article applies this analysis to a written correspondence between Ashby and Turing in which Turing urges Ashby to simulate his cybernetic Homeostat device on the ACE computer, rather than build a special machine.

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Margit Rosen, The Control of Control - Gordon Pask’s cybernetic aesthetics, pp. 73-110

 

The article focuses on music and art projects of the British cybernetician Gordon Pask from the 1950ies to the end of the 1970ies. These projects are seen as embedded in Pask’s general scientific work. Project Musicoulour is described as a learning machine which produces light effects according to the variety of the performance of a piano player. Thus theatres and dancing halls became cybernetic laboratories. Another example of Pask’s activities in the field of art was Fun Palace, which was described as a system for encouraging the creative behaviour that is necessary in an automated society. Participation of the audience was a key element of project Fun Palace and a projected central part of it, the Cybernetic Theatre. Finally the Colloquy of Mobiles, Gordon Pask’s most famous installation which has been prepared for the exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity, is discussed.

 

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