Cybernetics, History and Economics

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* PhD Thesis: Whitney-Smith, Elin. "Information Technology and Wealth: Cybernetics, History and Economics" (1991). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Dissertation, Engineering Management & Systems Engineering, Old Dominion University, DOI: 10.25777/b24g-b673



"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. A causal loop model is developed from a rich picture of the phenomena. The model is applied back to the press and forward to the telegraph and telephone and used to predict the impact of the current information revolution. One of the implications of information technology is that it allows people to model things better."