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McCULLOCH'S SUMMARY

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For we have been very ambitious in seeking those notions which pervade all purposive behavior and all understanding of our world: I mean the mechanistic basis of teleology and the flow of information through machines and men...

Our meetings began chiefly because Norbert Wiener and his friends in mathematics, communication engineering, and physiology, had shown the applicability of the notions of inverse feedback to all problems of regulation, homeostasis, and goal-directed activity from steam engines to human societies. Our early sessions were largely devoted to getting these notions clear in our heads, and to discovering how to employ them in our dissimilar fields...

...we had already discovered that what was crucial in all problems of negative feedback in any servo system was not the energy returned but the information about the outcome of the action to date. Our theme shifted slowly and inevitably to a field where Norbert Wiener and his friends still were the presiding genii. It became clear that every signal had two aspects: one physical, the other mental, formal, or logical.

McCulloch, W S, Summary of the points of agreement reached in the previous nine conferences on Cybernetics. In Cybernetics: circular causal and feedback mechanisms in biological and social systems. Transactions of tenth Conference. New York: Josiah Macy Jr Foundation, 1955.

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© Copyright D J Stewart 2003. All rights reserved.

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