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December 6, 1965

Progress in Biocybernetics

JAMA. 1965;194(10):1156. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090230124061

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Biocybernetics is the study of regulating mechanisms observable in machines and in living organisms. As the brain recognizes messages in nerve impulses, computers recognize programmed instructions; both are communication regulators. As a metal thermostat regulates room temperature, the brain regulates body temperature; both are feedback regulators.

This second appearance of Progress in Biocybernetics contains two articles that define cybernetics fully and others that give some sophisticated examples of biological regulators that should interest physicians. I would suggest that a reading start with Rapaport's fine handling of "The Impact of Cybernetics on the Philosophy of Biology" and continue with Chapman's advice on teaching the subject; both authors are experts who define biocybernetics entirely verbally. The remaining articles rely more on mathematics which the reader may, however, overlook, for the authors often supplement equations verbally and pictorially.

Indeed, this book could interest a variety of readers. The analysis by Newell and Simon,

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