dark hero

"[I]n the summer of 1950, Donald Theall, a young American graduate student at the university of Toronto, introduced his English professor, Marshall McLuhan, to Wiener's work and to the new thinking of the cybernetics group. Theall handed McLuhan copies of Cybernetics and The Human use of Human Beings and witnessed McLuhan's reaction. 'The relevance of Wiener in McLuhan's mind had to do with Wiener's image of the communications network as the contemporary image for the 'age of communications and control,' Theall recalled. Wiener's ideas stimulated McLuhan's thinking and spurred him on to build 'a foundation for a contemporary theory of artistic communication' that became a conduit for the flow of cybernetic ideas into art, literature, and the whole of popular culture."

“Cyber” is from the Greek word for navigator. Norbert Wiener coined “cybernetics” around 1948 to denote the study of “teleological mechanisms” [systems that embody goals].

The term itself began its rise to popularity in 1947 when Norbert Wiener used it to name a discipline apart from, but touching upon, such established disciplines as electrical engineering, mathematics, biology, neurophysiology, anthropology, and psychology. Wiener, Arturo Rosenblueth, and Julian Bigelow needed a name for their new discipline, and they adapted a Greek word meaning "the art of steering" to evoke the rich interaction of goals, predictions, actions, feedback, and response in systems of all kinds (the term "governor" derives from the same root) [Wiener 1948]. Early applications in the control of physical systems (aiming artillery, designing electrical circuits, and maneuvering simple robots) clarified the fundamental roles of these concepts in engineering; but the relevance to social systems and the softer sciences was also clear from the start. Many researchers from the 1940s through 1960 worked solidly within the tradition of cybernetics without necessarily using the term, some likely (R. Buckminster Fuller) but many less obviously (Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead).