Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century:
Thinking Machines in the Physical World
November 2015: Norbert Wiener’s Melbourne Connections
We are officially eight months away from “Conference Kick-Off,” and want to use this newsletter to answer the question you’ve all been asking—“Why Melbourne?” After all, with Norbert Wiener’s M.I.T. institutional affiliations, the 2014 Boston event made sense. But what connections link Wiener to Melbourne?
Here’s the story: back in the 1920s Wiener applied for a position at the University of Melbourne’s maths department. His application was unsuccessful, which meant that he ended up at M.I.T. And the rest, of course, is cybernetics history. Wiener himself never did come work in Melbourne; however, we are happy, at long last, to welcome him to the city and to celebrate his continued legacy in the twenty-first century.
Although the University of Melbourne missed its chance to bring on Wiener as a faculty member, it does boast an important link to cybernetics in the figure of Manfred Clynes. A 1946 graduate from the university, Clynes coined the term “cyborg” in a 1960 paper on “Drugs, Space, and Cybernetics” (which he co-authored with Nathan S. Klein). He was awarded the university’s prestigious D.Sc. degree in 1964, and later became a professorial associate at the Psychology Department.
The vastly interdisciplinary scope of Clynes’s career—he has worked as a concert pianist, neuroscientist, computer scientist, and inventor, and has been as devoted to studying the emotions as to developing technological innovations—makes him an inspiration for our “Thinking Machines in the Physical World” conference.
As always, we invite you to check out the CFP, visit the conference website, and add your name to our linkedin group. In addition, join our mailing list to receive monthly conference newsletters that feature:
- Interviews with confirmed keynotes Prof. Thomas Kailath (Stanford University), Prof. Brian Anderson (ANU), Dr. James Hughes (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies), and the IBM Watson team
- Details about the conference location, venue, special events, and excursions
- Important reminders as we continue along the Conference Count-Down
- Recent media stories and scholarly articles related to Norbert Wiener and “Thinking Machines”
We look forward to seeing you in Melbourne in July 2016!