By Eden Medina
In Cybernetic Revolutionaries, Eden Medina tells the background of 2 intersecting utopian visions, one political and one technological. the 1st was once Chile's scan with peaceable socialist switch below Salvador Allende; the second one was once the simultaneous try and construct a working laptop or computer method that may deal with Chile's financial system. Neither imaginative and prescient was once totally realized--Allende's govt ended with a violent army coup; the procedure, often called venture Cybersyn, was once by no means thoroughly implemented--but they carry classes for this present day concerning the courting among expertise and politics.
Drawing on vast archival fabric and interviews, Medina examines the cybernetic procedure predicted via the Chilean government--which used to be to add holistic process layout, decentralized administration, human-computer interplay, a countrywide telex community, close to real-time regulate of the growing to be commercial quarter, and modeling the habit of dynamic structures. She additionally describes, and files with photos, the network's big name Trek-like operations room, which featured swivel chairs with armrest keep watch over panels, a wall of displays exhibiting information, and flashing purple lighting fixtures to point financial emergencies.
Studying venture Cybersyn at the present time is helping us comprehend not just the technological targets of a central authority in the middle of political switch but additionally the restrictions of the Chilean revolution. This historical past additional exhibits how human makes an attempt to mix the political and the technological with the target of making a extra simply society can open new technological, highbrow, and political chances. applied sciences, Medina writes, are old texts; once we learn them we're examining heritage.
Edelstein Prize (2012)
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Additional info for Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile
In her study of metaphor in twentieth-century biology, Evelyn Fox Keller asserts that viewing “cybersciences” such as cybernetics, information theory, systems analysis, operations research, and computer science as only “extending the regime of wartime power, of command-control-communication, to the civilian domain” is oversimplistic and one-dimensional. ”44 This is especially true in the history of British cybernetics and is highly evident in Stafford Beer’s work on management cybernetics. S. approach in significant ways.
The first edition of Beer’s 1959 book Cybernetics and Management did not make many references to computer technology, although the book’s description of a cybernetic factory includes several tasks suitable for large-scale data processing, among them the generation of statistical data to predict the future behavior of the company. The second edition of the text, published eight years later in 1967, includes a postscript—“Progress to the Cybernetic Firm”—and a section dedicated to the misuse of computers in industry.
The Viable System Model The Viable System Model is one of the most central and enduring concepts in all of Beer’s work. 77 Beer first presented the Viable System Model in his fourth book, Brain of the Firm (1972), but the model was almost fully formed by the time Flores contacted him in July 1971. In Brain of the Firm, Beer defines a viable system as “a system that survives. It coheres; it is integral. ”79 Here I describe the Viable System Model as Beer described it in Brain of the Firm, supplemented with commentary from some of his later works, to enable the reader to understand the system as it was presented to the Chilean team.