Published in the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine ∕ September 2015 J. Mitchell Johnson In the early part of 2009 I got a phone call and was offered a new filmmaking assignment that related to the history of Soviet computing. While doing research for the project, I stumbled across information about a M.I.T. professor named Norbert Wiener. Fascinated, I bought a copy of Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman’s amazing book, Dark Hero of the Information Age . Wiener’s story touched me deeply because his work connected the dots on many questions I’d been thinking about since my days as a university...Read More
BACK STORY – Who is Norbert Wiener?
(Abridged version of the Introduction to Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics). "So oft in theologic wars, The disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean, And prate about an Elephant Not one of them has seen!" —John Godfrey Saxe, The Blind Men and the Elephant He is the father of the information age. His work has shaped the lives of billions of people. His discoveries have transformed the world’s economies and cultures. He was one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century, a child prodigy...Read More
The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again)
Resurrecting the legacy of a man who understood, and feared, the future of automation. Doug Hill Jun 11 2014, 3:48 PM ET Published in ATLANTIC MONTHLY MAGAZINE, JUNE 2014 I’ve been preoccupied lately with thoughts of marauding broomsticks, genies in bottles, and monkey’s paws. All are literary images the scientist Norbert Wiener used to make the point that we fool ourselves if we think we have our technologies firmly under control. That Wiener was instrumental in creating the technologies he warned about demonstrates the insistent obstinance of his peculiar genius. (more…)Read More