Cybernetics and General Systems Theory

Foundational authors of Cybernetics and Systems theory:

Talcott Parsons
Niklas Luhmann
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Warren McCulloch
Jay Forrester
Gordon Brown
Jose Verela
Norbert Weiner
Claude Shannon
Ross Ashby
Alan Turing
James Maxwell
John von Neumann
Heinz von Forester
Anthony Wilden
Humberto Maturana
Ilya Prigogine
Gregory Bateson

These are a few names… but there are so many more that branched off into domain specific fields, though the origins of their ideas began with this complex systems background

It’s such a interdisciplinary subject. I’m constantly astonished how far reaching the topic is, and yet how completely unknown it is. As in, you discover that so many great minds contributed to it topic, and yet, it’s hardly known or understood. It’s like the ultimate platonic form.

Where should you start reading? Depends on what angle you want to approach it

Information theory and computation are the most popular, I would say. Just because…. well. Information technology and computation are really good at modeling this abstract system.
Sociology and economics have a lot to say about the subject. Physics too
Category Theory is mathematics attempt to synthesize these relational structures…. and they kinda contribute to a lot of fields
The reason I bring it up is fuckin networks.
Why networks? Why more data? Why more processing? What is the relationship between sensors, processors, and actuators.
These massive growing networks… laying down networks of physical layers…. so we can build higher order networks of ideas, in the cloud, giant imaginary ideological apparatus
You know?
All life possesses this cybernetic system.

All life is an open system, and has the ability to self preserve
Networks of bodies and minds
Power laws
The world is information
Information is the greatest value
The more structure to that information, the more order, the more value
The more noise, the more entropy, the less value
Basically General Systems Theory
I just want everyone in the world to be as insanely consumed by this topic.

So we can answer the question:

Why do we do what we do?
I can’t necessarily recommend a book on the subject. I just don’t know where a good place to start is. I could list a bunch of books that should be read, but not one book can properly summarize the breadth and depth of the topic. And the ability to relate to any one book will always be limited to the extent that we’re familiar with the topics addressed by that particular author.

If you are already deep into physics and math, I’d recommend starting with authors that approach it from that angle. .

If you’re familiar with Economics and sociology, I’d start there.

Biology and genetics and evolution, start there.

Psychology and neuroscience has a lot of authors on the subject, which intersect to machine vision systems.

Psychotherapy and spirituality and philosophy have many contribution.

Information technology and computers leverage have a lot of material on the subject.

the list goes on.

they’re all describing the same phenomenon.
But at the end of the day, it’s information is what defines this system
Why are we building these increasingly complex networks? Why do social systems function and evolve as they do?
Life has a preference
What is that preference?
If you drill down far enough, all your left with is information
Geoffrey West has a provocative book titled “Scale: The Universal Laws of Life and Death in Organisms, Cities and Companies”

It doesn’t discuss cybernetic systems, but it does discuss the mathematical phenomenon that emerge in complex network systems
Claude Shannon’s book The Mathematical Theory of Communication is a foundational text. It is foundational to cybernetics and just information technology in general

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