By Maria Cory
Ardith and Ken? Man and Machine? Returning Sunday Morning Forum Facilitators Ardith Chambers and Ken Goodrich delivered double the benefit via their tandem presentation: "Cybernetics: The Interface between Man and Machine."
This terrific twosome led us in quite the excursion through "the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine," so defined by cybernetics inventor Norbert Weiner in 1948. Throughout the ensuing decades, individuals inspired by this child prodigy and professor continue to seek computer technology as a means of augmenting human capability.
Describing the evolution of cybernetics and its individual and global impact, Ardith and Ken aptly presented both a personal and professional view of this complex, transdisciplinary field.
"I look to Unitarians to help make transitions because we're open to exploring," comments Ardith, from her early years in the faith. "We make a better world because we are here; we do our part while we are here." And cybernetics helps her with these transitions and goals in our ever-changing world, this sociology enthusiast expresses.
"Observe; Orient; Decide; Act," explains Ken, regarding the OODA Loop's circular causality and feedback strategy. Our resident NASA Research Engineer stepped us through technical applications that affect mechanical, physical, biological, cognitive and social systems. Affirming his teammate's illustrations, he notes: "For cybernetics, you need to think in terms of outcome or purpose. So, as you mentioned…this applies to leaving the world a better place" in that cybernetics helps us develop a language by which we may better understand and modify our world.
Man + Machine…in Tandem or Tension? We've only scratched the surface in this odyssey of discovery. So as humanity and technology voyage forward, let's put on our travelin' shoes (or maybe our spacesuits!) and continue in our quest of creating the Beloved Community and (shall we say) "heaven on [a new] earth"!