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New section: July 2023

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1. First-order cybernetics is the study of systems that can be modelled as feedback loops. It focuses on the way that systems regulate themselves to maintain a desired state. First-order cybernetics was developed in the 1940s and 1950s by Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, and others.

· Wiener, N. (1948). Cybernetics: Or control and communication in the animal and the machine. MIT Press.

· Shannon, C. E., & Weaver, W. (1949). The mathematical theory of communication. University of Illinois Press.

2. Second-order cybernetics is the study of the observer and the observed. It recognizes that the observer is part of the system being observed and that this can affect the results of the observation. Second-order cybernetics was developed in the 1960s and 1970s by Heinz von Foerster, Gregory Bateson, and others.

· von Foerster, H. (1974). Observing systems. Intersystems Publications.

· Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind. University of Chicago Press.

3. Third-order cybernetics is the study of the emergence of meaning and consciousness. It explores the way that systems create their own meaning and how this can lead to consciousness. Third-order cybernetics is still a developing field, and there is no single agreed-upon definition.

· Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1980). Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living. Springer.

· Luhmann, N. (1995). Social systems. Stanford University Press.

4. Fourth-order cybernetics is the study of the relationship between systems and their environment. It explores the way that systems are co-created by their environment and how this can lead to new forms of organization. Fourth-order cybernetics is also a developing field, and there is no single agreed-upon definition.

· Capra, F. (2002). The hidden connections: A science for sustainable living. Anchor Books.

· Rosen, R. (1985). Anticipatory systems: Philosophical, mathematical, and methodological foundations. Pergamon Press.


Elin Whitney-Smith on the Historical Role of the Press in the Development of Markets and Capitalism

"Capitalism developed where and when it did because there was high information access. There was high information access because of a major advance in information technology - the press. Where the technology was not controlled by the ’’powers that be” there was economic growth and a shift in the entire social structure. Where it was controlled there was no structural change and there was economic ruin. The development of capitalism is a major step change in economic growth. It is also a major change in the way people organize themselves into groups. Major step changes in the growth and in the organization of cultures are found to be related to the introduction and use of information technology. The limit to growth is the limit of effective use of information or the variety limit. Economies are able to grow once the variety limit is raised. Information technology allows people to increase their individual variety in relation to the amount of information processed. This increase in individual variety allows the entire society to grow. Where there is high access to information through technology there is much growth and where there is less information access through control of technology there is less economic growth. When a high access economy is in competition for resources with a low access economy the high access economy will be more economically successful."

- Elin Whitney-Smith [1]


  1. Cybernetic State
  2. Cybernetics
  3. Cybernetics and Governance
  4. Cybernetics Movement


  1. Second Order Cybernetics
  2. Fourth Order Cybernetics

Key Resources


Please read:


On Cybernetic Government

  • Khanna, Parag, Technocracy in America. Charleston, South Carolina: CreateSpace, Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.
  • Seibel, Benjamin. (2016) Cybernetic Government. Wiesbaden: Springer.



  1. Cybernetics History
  2. ​Stafford Beer on the History and Origins of Cybernetics


  1. Cybernetics as an Antihumanism

Cybernetics and the Commons

  1. Common Cybernetics
  2. Cybernetics of the Commons
  3. Cybernetics Valuable to the Commons and for Understanding AI

Cybernetics and Production

  1. Cybernetic Planning
  2. Cybernetic Production Regime
  3. Cybernetic Self-Management
  4. Economic and Social Cybernetics
  5. Economic Cybernetics


Cybersyn in Chile

  1. Cybernetics of Governance and the Cybersyn Project
  2. Cybernetic Revolutionaries
  3. Eden Medina on Cybernetics and Revolution
  4. Socialist Cybernetics in Allende’s Chile
  5. Technology, Cybernetic Revolutionaries and Politics in Allende's Chile

Activist Cybernetics

  1. Cybernetic Revolution
  2. Direct Technocracy
  3. Neo-Cybernetic Politics
  4. Neocybernetic Governance and the End of Politics

Socialist Cybernetics

  1. Cybernetic Communism
  2. Cybernetic Socialism
  3. From Dot-com Capitalism to Cybernetic Communism
  4. Towards a New Cybernetic Socialism
  5. Paul Cockshott on the Possibilities for a New Cybernetic Socialism
  6. Red Cybernetics
  7. Solving the Global Crisis Requires the Approach of Economics Cybernetics
  8. Towards a New Cybernetic Socialism

The Soviet Experience

  1. History of Soviet Cybernetics
  2. Soviet Cybernetics and Planning
  3. Soviet Cybernetics and the Promise of Big Computer Socialism
  4. Why the Soviet Union Did Not Build a Nationwide Computer Network

Pages in category "Cybernetics"

The following 74 pages are in this category, out of 74 total.