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Cybernetics as a usable past



DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9497-x ESSAY REVIEW Andrew Pickering: The cybernetic brain: Sketches of another future. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010, x+526pp, US$55.00 HB Ronald R. Kline Published online: 5 January 2011 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011 The Cybernetic Brain is a strange, wonderful, and frustrating book. Beautifully written, passionately argued, and based on a decade's worth of research, the book presents a detailed, wide-ranging history of British cybernetics as a usable past to challenge how we think about science and modernity. A sociologist of science who has written landmark books on quarks and ``posthumanist'' science studies, Pickering explains that Cybernetic Brain ``is very much my own history of cybernetics in Britain--not a comprehensive survey, but the story of a set of scientific, technological, and social developments that speak to me for reasons I will explain and that I hope will interest others'' (4). To create his own history of cybernetics, Pickering follows a strand of research extending from the work of two first-generation British cyberneticists--brain scientists W. Grey Walter and W. Ross Ashby--to that of second-generation researchers Stafford Beer and Gordon Pask, a strand that extends from the late 1940s to the 1970s. The psychiatric research of Gregory



MetascienceSpringer Journals

Published: Nov 1, 2011

DOI: 10.1007/s11016-010-9497-x

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