Publication 2781

Richards L. D. (2016) A history of the history of cybernetics: An agenda for an ever-changing present. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 23(1): 42–49. Fulltext at
This paper is a slightly modified transcript of an invited talk at the 50th anniversary meeting of the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) held in Washington, DC, in August 2014. Past ASC presidents were invited to give a twenty minute presentation offering their perspectives on the history of cybernetics and ASC in the context of their terms of office. The author of this paper served a three-year term as ASC President from 1986 to 1988. The paper takes the perspective that a history of cybernetics should take into account the cybernetics of the concept of history. As such, it offers some premises on the concepts of history and time, claiming that these premises can be derived from concepts in cybernetics. The premise that history is continually being transformed serves as the point of departure for reflections on cybernetics in the 1980s and especially the time period 1986–1988. The author presents his recollections of the thought process that guided his role as ASC President in advancing cybernetic thinking and of the topics of discussion at that time that he wishes to conserve for continuing conversation. The paper concludes with a proposal to change the name of the ASC to reflect its international membership.

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