Just ripped through Norbert Wiener’s God & Golem, Inc.: A comment on Certain Points where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion. Wiener was one of the first theorists of information technology science and theory. God & Golem is a 1964, MIT Press imprint. I didn’t write in the margins and all over it, its such a lovely, old, little black book.
Wiener sought in God & Golem to subvert the taboo then prevalent in the sciences that machines and life-systems are antithetical. He was interested in machines that could learn and reproduce, and self-create (just like God, and just like the human creator-person who creates machines that can self-create and create other machines, all in the image of God)
Against what he calls “gadget worshippers,” he wanted to preserve the human element in the human-machine assemblage. For him, as for Atlan, the human brain has a unique capacity to deal with vagueness and formlessness, whereas he thought that machines could not. (This reminds me of Lanier’s criticism of the brittleness of computer-machinic programs, about which I posted below).
For Wiener, the ideal is to create mixed systems, with both human and mechanical elements. He wrote about super-enhanced prosthetics with the capacity to register the sense of touch, systems that learn, and in which human elements are added.
A neat little book. It was sitting on my shelf for years and years, and I only had occaison now to read it. It would seem that my library has developed prior to my interests. That’s the random thing about books, as opposed to algorithms.