Cybernetics was created in the Soviet Union in the ’50s; it celebrated technical progress as the future of mankind. Cybernetics proceeded from the encounter between human and machine.
Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds page 32-38, vol II:1, 2009 Published on balticworlds.com on February 11, 2010
In the late 1950s, as Soviet society began to shed the legacy of Stalinism, science and engineering became new cultural icons. The new, post-Stalin generation was fascinated with Sputnik, nuclear power stations, and electronic digital computers. The popular image of an objective, truth-telling computer became a vehicle for a broad movement among scientists and engineers calling for reform in science and in society at large. Under the banner of cybernetics, this movement attacked the dogmatic notions of Stalinist science and the ideology-laden discourse of the Soviet social sciences.
Proposed originally in 1948 by the American mathematician Norbert Wiener as a science of control and communication in the animal and the machine,1 cybernetics acquired a much wider interpretation in the Soviet context. Soviet cyberneticians aspired to unify diverse cybernetic theories elaborated in the West — control theory, information theory, automata studies and others — in a single overarching conceptual framework, which would serve as the foundation for a general methodology applicable to a wide range of natural and social sciences and engineering.2