Rise of the Machines: the lost history of cybernetics

Thomas Rid

Rise of the Machines: the lost history of cybernetics
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Rise of the Machines: the lost history of cybernetics

Thomas Rid

As lives offline and online merge even more, it is easy to forget how we got here. Rise of the Machines reclaims the spectacular story of cybernetics, a control theory of manand-machine and one of the twentieth century’s pivotal ideas.

Springing from the febrile mind of mathematician Norbert Wiener amid the devastation of World War II, the cybernetic vision underpinned a host of seductive myths of cyborgs, cyberculture, and cyberspace. Wiener’s scheme slowly transformed computers from machines of assured destruction to engines of brilliant utopias. Cybernetics, in turn, triggered blissful cults and martial gizmos, The Whole Earth Catalog, and the U.S. Air Force’s foray into virtual space. It continues to fuel anarchists and cyberwarriors today.

Drawing on unpublished sources including interviews with hippies, anarchists, sleuths, and spies, Rise of the Machines offers an unparalleled perspective into our anxious embrace of technology.

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