In a half-assed and on and off way I’ve been thinking about control systems. So I was very surprised to find I out I had no idea what cybernetic means.
Cybernetics* is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities. Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics in 1948 as “the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.” In other words, it is the scientific study of how humans, animals and machines control and communicate with each other.
Cybernetics is applicable when a system being analyzed incorporates a closed signaling loop—originally referred to as a “circular causal” relationship—that is, where action by the system generates some change in its environment and that change is reflected in the system in some manner (feedback) that triggers a system change. Cybernetics is relevant to, for example, mechanical, physical, biological, cognitive, and social systems.
For those thinking what the heck does this have to do with maritime there is this:
The basic idea of that feedback mechanism is that of the ship’s pilot (the word comes from ancient Greek κυβερνάω (kybernáō), originally “steering”), who watches the behavior of the ship (feedback) and doesn’t do anything as long as it’s going in the right direction.