Systems, Man & Cybernetics - April 2015 - 18

Defining
Cybernetics
Reflections on the Science of Governance

by Qiangfu Zhao, John Brine, and Dimitar P. Filev

C

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© IST
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The Origins of Cybernetics
The term cybernetics stems from the ancient
Greek κυβερνήτης (kyberne- te- s), meaning
"steersman, governor, pilot, and rudder." This
word was first used by Plato in The Alcibiades to signify the governance of people [1].
From Plato's philosophy and his historical
background [2], it is reasonable to assume
that he used cybernetics to represent a study
for acquiring ideal knowledge related to the
governance of human society. The word cybernétique was used in 1834 by Ampère to denote
the sciences of government [1]. In this sense,
Ampère used cybernetics in a way similar to
Plato. That is, the original meaning of cybernetics is "the science of governance."

NO V
AN D

IJK

ybernetics, as defined by Plato and later by
André-Marie Ampère, is the science of governance. In the 1940s, Norbert Wiener used
cybernetics as an umbrella term to cover
control and communication in animals and
machines. Later, the term was defined in various ways by
different researchers, and, for this reason, cybernetics
has been perceived rather generally as a "nomad science." In our time, few people understand the true
meaning of cybernetics. For the healthy development of the field, we think it is necessary to reconsider the meaning and the scope of cybernetics so
that we can have a relatively clear mission in our
research. In this article, we try to provide a sort
of governance message that can be advisory but
nevertheless helpful for the cybernetics community
to become cybernetic itself.

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MSMC.2015.2421325
Date of publication: 16 September 2015

18

IEEE SYSTEMS, MAN, & CYBERNETICS MAGAZINE A pr il 2015

2333-942X/15©2015IEEE


http://www.ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/MENNO

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Systems, Man & Cybernetics - April 2015

Systems, Man & Cybernetics - April 2015 - Cover1
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - April 2015 - Cover2
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - April 2015 - 1
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Systems, Man & Cybernetics - April 2015 - Cover3
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - April 2015 - Cover4
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