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The Human Story of Cybernetics

The Human Story of Cybernetics is a 9 lecture course on the cultural and intellectual history of cybernetics delivered by Colin Williams.

Professor Williams is a Director of SBL as well as an academic and Honorary Fellow of the University of Warwick at the Cyber Security Centre within WMG. As such, interested customers and partners of SBL are able to attend these lectures.

Find out more about the Human Story of Cybernetics course at Warwick, and how to register, here.

Context

We are inhabitants of the Cyber domain. Citizens of Cyberspace. Actors in the Information Age.

Soon, we will share the realms of our existence with Others. Machines; robots that move and act autonomously amongst us, with us, and upon us.

Some will look like us, others will not. Some will teach and heal us. Some will kill and imprison us.

Soon, we will see humans, and humanity, reinvented as Cyborg.

Soon, we will birth the dream, whispered by J. B. S. Haldane in 1923. And, by the conquest of evolution through science and technology we will create a new species of life: Homo Sapiens Cyber; Humanity V2.0.

We marvel in bewildered awe at the unfathomable complexity of our Cyber creation. Our attempts at comprehension repeatedly confounded by untraceable and indeterminate vortices of non-linear cause and effect.

We tremble at the burgeoning realisation of our existential dependence upon vast interconnected networks of machines and systems; creations wrought by our own hands but yet effortlessly surpassing our understanding.

We tell ourselves stories of the transformations and of the dark terrors to come.

The Singularity is nigh! The robots will rise! The AI will enslave us! The machine will fail! We are all doomed! Certitude and civilisation alike crumbling to chaos around us.

Entropy is at the gates! Our best hope? The puny human bred as living food for its greatest creation; organic batteries for the Matrix. At least then we will have the consolation of the consensually subjective steak.

Cyber has become the definitional and the transformative context for the humans and the humanity of the twenty first century.

Where, and when, and how, did this chapter of the human story start?

What are the relationships in history and in contemporary actuality between Cyber and Cybernetics?

What is Cybernetics? How did the narratives of Cybernetics and Cyber coalesce?

From what yarns have the fabrics of our discourses been woven?

When, and how, and why did Cybernetics contract and reduce to Cyber?

Did all of this arise as a serendipitous consequence of a haphazard cascade of happenstance, or is there a teleology of Cyber and Cybernetics at play?

If so, from whence did the purpose arise? What then is the telos toward which we are bidden?

Our fate at the hands of our greatest creation is far from being the inevitable consequence of our hubris or the ineluctable outcome of an irresistible technological determinism. Our fate will be determined by our choices and by our actions. The purpose of this short course at University of Warwick, running weekly throughout the Winter Term, is therefore to make a contribution to the improvement of the quality of our thoughts and deeds in relation to Cyber.



Published: 29/09/2016

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