industrial society and its future

February 13, 2009 1:24 PM

Extra dark and ominous; uses mostly noise waveforms instead of sine waves

posted by wastelands (6 comments total)

Bonus points if you know where the title comes from without googling. Hint: a twisted mathematician.
posted by wastelands at 1:24 PM on February 13, 2009

Teh unibummer.

Somebody made a documentary about the people Kazynsky (sp?) criticized in the FP manifesto. One of the more interesting interviews was with Heinz Von Foerster (one of the founders of the field of second order cybernetics). Von Foerster never blew anybody up, (but?) his ideas have a bit more depth. They are both mathematicians that were politically engaged, but in very different ways. One idea of his I remember from the movie that I remember was that for a quantum physicist a particle is an explanitory principle - when the equations fail to make sense, they need to invent a new particle.
posted by idiopath at 8:27 PM on February 14, 2009

idiopath, interesting! Do you remember the name of the documentary? I just saw a National Geographic documentary on him called Hunt for the Unabomber, and I don't remember them talking about Von Foerster.

A lot of wasted potential for that guy. Highly intelligent, but completely psychotic methods. The ironic thing is, despite the radical and extreme nature of his protests, if he'd instead submitted essays to magazines or something more socially accceptable, he could have had a lot more impact.
posted by wastelands at 8:35 PM on February 14, 2009

I would have made a better comment with the help of google.

An excert from the Kaczynski Movie. A hagiography of the Unabomber. An excerpt of the Von Foerster segment starts at 8:00.

I eagerly await my bonus prize.
posted by idiopath at 9:08 PM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I should mention that Von Foerster was a colleague of my composition mentor Herbert BrĂ¼n. They were founders of the biological computer laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champain. This was an experimental seminar in cybernetics (they defined cybernetics as "the science of defensible metaphors"). My understanding is that the whole thing dissolved when Congress passed a law saying that DARPA money could only go to developing military technology, and most cyberneticians decided to go without funding altogether rather than develop weapons, and the entirety of mainstream cybernetics in the US just vanished - POOF.

Cybernetics was meant to be a discipline independent common language for describing complex systems (systems where it was impossible to change a variable orthogonally to all others). According to the biologists (like Humberto Maturana) all organisms are already cybernetic organisms ("cyborgs"), because they are systems with feedback mechanisms, that maintain an equilibrium and use heuristic processes to achieve goals. While cybernetics (or a functional replacement) may be necessary for making a human machine hybrid, creating human machine hybrid is not the purpose of cybernetics.
posted by idiopath at 9:30 PM on February 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

idiopath, thanks for the link and the additional comments.

You'll note that I am awarding points, not prizes, for the correct answer, so here's 20 points: ....................

They're nonredeemable at all stores, but they look great on a mantelpiece.
posted by wastelands at 7:33 AM on February 15, 2009

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