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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cybernetics And Peace

Continuing to listen to my new LAUNCHcast station, Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name Of" reminded me of something else I wanted to share of me. At UCLA I majored in Cybernetics (since renamed), which fundamentally was the study of control and communications of systems biological and non-biological. Back then the cool yet nerdy example was the character Data on Star Trek. The coursework was big picture stuff: understanding ecology, statistics, and theoretical computer science's concept of The Internet.

Control. How do we model the human heart and its interaction with a new drug to help it work better? Create a theory, turn it into math, throw tests at it, get feedback, modify the theory, redo the math, continue testing, and so forth. Control the situation, the system.

Can't control humanity. Even Hitler with his focussed, passionate charisma could not change what was true, what was inside individuals. Yes he, and all of history's evil dictators corrupted those willing to "do what they told ya", those willing to look at people based upon labels and groups rather than tolerate individuality, but society will give people their just desserts eventually.

Now, communication can effect change. I latched onto this side of my major, realizing how amazing the possibilities of The Internet were. This was when browsers and email were in their initial versions. Dialup bulletin boards gave way quickly to Usenet as students and early adopters quickly pushed the boundaries of computing power and revolutionized how humanity flows. Telnet and chat clients began to explore what today we take for granted in communicating with all the variations of social media. It's incredible to think back and see how society has layered on top of The Internet a whole new method to reach out, to listen, and to be heard. This can theoretically lead to endless tolerance and compassion, lead to acceptance of self and others, lead to

Peace. Help "make it so".

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