Item – Thèses Canada

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Malapi-Nelson, Alcibiades Julio.
Merging the Natural with the Artificial : the Nature of a Machine and the Collapse of Cybernetics.
Ph. D. - Doctor of Philosophy -- York University, 2015
Toronto : York University, 2015.
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This thesis is concerned with the rise and fall of cybernetics, understood as an inquiry regarding the nature of a machine. The collapse of this scientific movement, usually explained by external factors such as lack of funding, will be addressed from a philosophical standpoint. Delving deeper into the theoretical core of cybernetics, one could find that the contributions of William Ross Ashby and John von Neumann shed light onto the particular ways in which cybernetics understood the nature and behavior of a machine. Ross Ashby offered an account of the nature of a machine and then extended the scope of "the mechanical". This extension would encompass areas that will later be shown to be problematic for mechanization, such as learning and adaptation. The way in which a machine-ontology was applied would trigger effects seemingly contrary to cybernetics' own distinctive features. Von Neumann, on the other hand, tinkered with a mechanical model of the brain, realizing grave limitations that prompted him to look for an alternative for cybernetics to work on. The proposal that came out of this resulted in a serious blow against the theoretical core of cybernetics. Why did cybernetics collapse? The contributions coming from both thinkers, in their own ways, spelled out the main tenets of the cybernetic proposal. But these very contributions led to cybernetics' own demise. The whole story can be framed under the rubric of a serious inquiry into the metaphysical underpinnings of a machine. The rise and fall of cybernetics could thus help us better understand what a machine is from a philosophical standpoint. Although a historical component is present, my emphasis relies on a philosophical consideration of the cybernetic phenomenon. This metaphysical dissection will attempt to clarify how a machine-based ontology remained at the core of cybernetics. An emerging link will hopefully lead towards establishing a tri-partite correlation between cybernetics' own evolution, its theoretical core, and its collapse. It will hopefully show how cybernetic inquiries into the nature of a machine might have proved fatal to the very enterprise at large, due to unsolvable theoretical tensions.
Autre lien(s)
Philosophy of science.
History of science.
Computer science.
Anti-aircraft weaponry.
Kinematic model.
Artificial life.
Artificial intelligence.
Macy conferences.
Ratio club.
Ross Ashby.
John von Neumann.
Norbert Wiener.
Alan Turing.