"Dazzling.” —Financial Times As lives offline and online merge even more, it is easy to forget how we got here. Rise of the Machines reclaims the spectacular story of cybernetics, one of the twentieth century’s pivotal ideas. Springing from the mind of mathematician Norbert Wiener amid the devastation of World War II, the cybernetic vision underpinned a host of seductive myths about the future of machines. Cybernetics triggered blissful cults and military gizmos, the Whole Earth Catalog and the air force’s foray into virtual space, as well as crypto-anarchists fighting for internet freedom. In Rise of the Machines, Thomas Rid draws on unpublished sources—including interviews with hippies, anarchists, sleuths, and spies—to offer an unparalleled perspective into our anxious embrace of technology.
Thomas Rid’s revelatory history of cybernetics pulls together disparate threads in the history of technology, from the invention of radar and pilotless flying bombs in World War Two to today’s age of CCTV, cryptocurrencies and Oculus Rift, to make plain that our current anxieties about privacy and security will be emphatically at the crux of the new digital future that we have been steadily, sometimes inadvertently, creating for ourselves. Rise of the Machines makes a singular and significant contribution to the advancement of our clearer understanding of that future – and of the past that has generated it. PRAISE FOR THOMAS RID ‘A fascinating survey of the oscillating hopes and fears expressed by the cybernetic mythos.’ The Wall Street Journal ‘Thoughtful, enlightening … a mélange of history, media studies, political science, military engineering and, yes, etymology … A meticulous yet startling alternate history of computation.’ New Scientist
This book is a philosophical exploration of the theoretical causes behind the collapse of classical cybernetics, as well as the lesson that this episode can provide to current emergent technologies. Alcibiades Malapi-Nelson advances the idea that the cybernetic understanding of the nature of a machine entails ontological and epistemological consequences that created both material and theoretical conundrums. However, he proposes that given our current state of materials research, scientific practices, and research tools, there might be a way for cybernetics to flourish this time. The book starts with a historical and theoretical articulation of cybernetics in order to proceed with a philosophical explanation of its collapse—emphasizing the work of Alan Turing, Ross Ashby and John von Neumann. Subsequently, Malapi-Nelson unveils the common metaphysical signature shared between cybernetics and emergent technologies, identifying this signature as transhumanist in nature. Finally, avenues of research that may allow these disruptive technologies to circumvent the cybernetic fate are indicated. It is proposed that emerging technologies ultimately entail an affirmation of humanity.
Cybernetics—the science of communication and control as it applies to machines and to humans—originates from efforts during World War II to build automatic anti-aircraft systems. Following the war, this science extended beyond military needs to examine all systems that rely on information and feedback, from the level of the cell to that of society. In The Cybernetics Moment, Ronald R. Kline, a senior historian of technology, examines the intellectual and cultural history of cybernetics and information theory, whose language of "information," "feedback," and "control" transformed the idiom of the sciences, hastened the development of information technologies, and laid the conceptual foundation for what we now call the Information Age. Kline argues that, for about twenty years after 1950, the growth of cybernetics and information theory and ever-more-powerful computers produced a utopian information narrative—an enthusiasm for information science that influenced natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, humanists, policymakers, public intellectuals, and journalists, all of whom struggled to come to grips with new relationships between humans and intelligent machines. Kline traces the relationship between the invention of computers and communication systems and the rise, decline, and transformation of cybernetics by analyzing the lives and work of such notables as Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, Warren McCulloch, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and Herbert Simon. Ultimately, he reveals the crucial role played by the cybernetics moment—when cybernetics and information theory were seen as universal sciences—in setting the stage for our current preoccupation with information technologies. -- Gregory J. Downey, University of Wisconsin'
Jerry Brotton is the presenter of the acclaimed BBC4 series 'Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession'. Here he tells the story of our world through maps. Throughout history, maps have been fundamental in shaping our view of the world, and our place in it. But far from being purely scientific objects, world maps are unavoidably ideological and subjective, intimately bound up with the systems of power and authority of particular times and places. Mapmakers do not simply represent the world, they construct it out of the ideas of their age. In this scintillating book, Jerry Brotton examines the significance of 12 maps - from the mystical representations of ancient history to the satellite-derived imagery of today. He vividly recreates the environments and circumstances in which each of the maps was made, showing how each conveys a highly individual view of the world - whether the Jerusalem-centred Christian perspective of the 14th century Hereford Mappa Mundi or the Peters projection of the 1970s which aimed to give due weight to 'the third world'. Although the way we map our surroundings is once more changing dramatically, Brotton argues that maps today are no more definitive or objective than they have ever been - but that they continue to make arguments and propositions about the world, and to recreate, shape and mediate our view of it. Readers of this book will never look at a map in quite the same way again.
This Encyclopedia examines all aspects of the history of science in the United States, with a special emphasis placed on the historiography of science in America. It can be used by students, general readers, scientists, or anyone interested in the facts relating to the development of science in the United States. Special emphasis is placed in the history of medicine and technology and on the relationship between science and technology and science and medicine.
The term ‘science fiction’ has an established common usage, but close examination reveals that writers, fans, editors, scholars, and publishers often use this word in different ways for different reasons. Exploring how science fiction has emerged through competing versions and the struggle to define its limits, this Concise History: provides an accessible and clear overview of the development of the genre traces the separation of sf from a broader fantastic literature and the simultaneous formation of neighbouring genres, such as fantasy and horror shows the relationship between magazine and paperback traditions in sf publishing is organised by theme and presented chronologically uses text boxes throughout to highlight key works in sf traditions including dystopian, apocalyptic and evolutionary fiction includes a short overview and bullet-pointed conclusion for each chapter. Discussing the place of key works and looking forward to the future of the genre, this book is the ideal starting point both for students and all those seeking a better understanding of science fiction.
New Media: A Critical Introduction is a comprehensive introduction to the culture, history, technologies and theories of new media. Written especially for students, the book considers the ways in which 'new media' really are new, assesses the claims that a media and technological revolution has taken place and formulates new ways for media studies to respond to new technologies. The authors introduce a wide variety of topics including: how to define the characteristics of new media; social and political uses of new media and new communications; new media technologies, politics and globalization; everyday life and new media; theories of interactivity, simulation, the new media economy; cybernetics, cyberculture, the history of automata and artificial life. Substantially updated from the first edition to cover recent theoretical developments, approaches and significant technological developments, this is the best and by far the most comprehensive textbook available on this exciting and expanding subject. At www.newmediaintro.com you will find: additional international case studies with online references specially created You Tube videos on machines and digital photography a new ‘Virtual Camera’ case study, with links to short film examples useful links to related websites, resources and research sites further online reading links to specific arguments or discussion topics in the book links to key scholars in the field of new media.
Perspectives from historical, cultural, and educational studies
Author: David Bolt
Category: Social Science
Whilst legislation may have progressed internationally and nationally for disabled people, barriers continue to exist, of which one of the most pervasive and ingrained is attitudinal. Social attitudes are often rooted in a lack of knowledge and are perpetuated through erroneous stereotypes, and ultimately these legal and policy changes are ineffectual without a corresponding attitudinal change. This unique book provides a much needed, multifaceted exploration of changing social attitudes toward disability. Adopting a tripartite approach to examining disability, the book looks at historical, cultural, and education studies, broadly conceived, in order to provide a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to the documentation and endorsement of changing social attitudes toward disability. Written by a selection of established and emerging scholars in the field, the book aims to break down some of the unhelpful boundaries between disciplines so that disability is recognised as an issue for all of us across all aspects of society, and to encourage readers to recognise disability in all its forms and within all its contexts. This truly multidimensional approach to changing social attitudes will be important reading for students and researchers of disability from education, cultural and disability studies, and all those interested in the questions and issues surrounding attitudes toward disability.