This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.
If the appearance in 1948 of Norbert Wiener's "Cybernetics" was not in itself a major biologic breakthrough, it did confer a sort of ontologic and semantic validity on a concept long known to workers in nonbiologic sciences. Indeed, it helped pave the way for an interdisciplinary approach to biology long before that adjective had lost its respectability. Cybernetics—"control and communication in the animal and the machine," as Wiener would have it—concerns itself with self-regulating feedback systems. The fly-ball governor of a steam engine is a classic example of a negative feedback arrangement. So, too, is a thermostatically regulated electric oven—the hotter it gets, the less current is supplied—thus, negative feedback. And, of course, such systems are at the heart of the newer computer technology. Biologically, cybernetics constitutes an approach to understanding integrated function in living organisms—someting evident to the ancients but awaiting modern insights before earning a scientifically reputable name
Laforet EG. Kybernetics of Mind and Brain. Arch Intern Med. 1972;129(6):998. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.1972.00320060146026
Browse and subscribe to JAMA Network podcasts!
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: