Publication 6245

Krippendorff K. (2019) My scholarly life in cybernetics. World Futures 75(1–2): 69–91. Fulltext at
This article narrates how I discovered cybernetics, who inspired me to make the contributions of which I am proud, and the ideas that led me to recognize the importance of understanding the social world we live in as a consequence of what we do in language. It took me some time before I recognized that circular causality and digitalization that made cybernetics the driver of the current revolution toward a computationally autonomous information society had serious limitations. When used to explain human involvements, the mathematics of cybernetics trivializes what we do to each other and blinds us to recognize how cybernetics transformed society. Studying conversations and discourses made me aware of how cybernetic vocabularies, guiding concepts, and computational metaphors were enacted. By contrast to (first- or second-order) cybernetics, I learned that a cybernetics that is practiced in conversations and acknowledges the social consequences of what it generates had to be reflexive. Shifting attention from causal circularities to reflexive circularities opens up huge new areas for exploring socially meaningful contributions and criticizing the epistemologies of mindless discursive practices (e, g., of claiming the superiority of artificial intelligence and the power of computers). Such claims merely entrap their believers into inaction.

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