Cybernetics facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Honda ASIMO Walking Stairs
ASIMO uses sensors and sophisticated algorithms to avoid obstacles and navigate stairs

Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of complex systems, especially communication processes, control mechanisms and feedback principles. Cybernetics is closely related to control theory and systems theory.

Contemporary cybernetics began as an interdisciplinary study connecting the fields of control systems, electrical network theory, mechanical engineering, logic modeling, evolutionary biology and neuroscience in the 1940s. Other fields of study which have influenced or been influenced by cybernetics include game theory; system theory (a mathematical counterpart to cybernetics); psychology, especially neuropsychology, behavioral psychology,cognitive psychology; philosophy and even architecture.

The countries which started cybernetics were Britain and the United States, but the idea spread quickly to France, Russia and other countries. Another, more famous, example of 'interdisciplinary studies' was molecular and cell biology.

The building block

Cycl
Pask's Conversation Theory illustration

Imagine a simple system such as a central heating system.

A goal-directed or control system has these four parts:

  1. Sensor (S): test the system's environment.
  2. Goal (G): the specification of the desired state of the system.
  3. Error Detection (E): a method for finding the difference between the present state and the goal state.
  4. Effector (E'): operations the system can make to get the environment closer to the goal.

The device which does this is called a thermostat.

Later years

JARVIK 7 artificial heart
An artificial heart, a product of biomedical engineering

Cybernetics started rapidly, and some of the greatest thinkers of the post-war era were interested in it. When this generation died, and some of the hopes for artificial intelligence and robotics were slow to produce results, cybernetics fell somewhat out of favour.

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Cybernetics Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.