Paragraph 31 (3):304-326 (2008)

This article re-examines some of the principal concepts of cybernetics — control, communication, feedback — and its preoccupation with the ‘coupling’ of human and machine in an increasingly automated world. Historically, the rise of cybernetics coincides with the so-called Space Age, where the kind of computerized control systems theorized in cybernetics were essential to the guidance and operation of the complex machinery required to place humans and machines in space. Taking the Apollo programme as a paradigmatic case of accelerated technological evolution, the article looks at aspects of the human-machine relationship in Apollo and more specifically at the modes of interface — ‘analogue’ and ‘digital’ — which mediated that relationship. Despite a certain humanism of control which posits the human agent as the ultimate instance of perception, decision and action, it is argued that the evolutionary tendency detectable in the Apollo programme is towards the progressive marginalization, or ‘redundancy’, of the human agent.
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DOI 10.3366/e0264833408000291
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Cybernetics and the Human Sciences.Stefanos Geroulanos & Leif Weatherby - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (1):3-11.

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