Portrait of Ross Ashby

Ross Ashby

Psychiatrist and Cybernetician
September 6, 1903 – November 15, 1972

W. Ross Ashby was an English psychiatrist and a pioneer in cybernetics, the study of the science of communications and automatic control systems in both machines and living things. His two books, Design for a Brain and An Introduction to Cybernetics, introduced exact and logical thinking into the brand new discipline of cybernetics and were highly influential, making these "missionary works" along with his technical contributions "the major theoretician of cybernetics after Norbert Wiener".


Mentioned in 6 documents

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

General System Theory

In his seminal work, biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy outlines a theory of systems that breaks down disciplinary boundaries and argues that there are general principles and laws applicable to systems of all kinds. He contends that phenomena should be viewed not in isolation but as components of systems interacting with their environments. Bertalanffy proposes that there are commonalities across biological, physical, and social systems that can be explored through systems thinking. He suggests the need for an overarching systems science to uncover these universal system principles. The book develops key concepts like open and closed systems, steady states, growth, feedback, homeostasis, differentiation, hierarchy, and emergence. General System Theory was groundbreaking in its interdisciplinary approach and helped foster the growth of systems theory across academia and society.

Francis Heylighen and David Sloan Wilson

Glimpsing the Global Brain

Complex systems theorist Heylighen and evolutionary biologist Wilson discuss a possible phase transition of humanity in which the members of our species become neurons in a planetary brain, utilizing the Internet as a shared exocortex.

Gregory Bateson

Mind and Nature

Renowned for his contributions to anthropology, biology, and the social sciences, Bateson asserts that man must think as Nature does to live in harmony on the earth and, citing examples from the natural world, he maintains that biological evolution is a mental process.

Francis Heylighen

The Global Superorganism

The organismic view of society is updated by incorporating concepts from cybernetics, evolutionary theory, and complex adaptive systems. Global society can be seen as an autopoietic network of self-producing components, and therefore as a living system or “superorganism”. Published in the Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems.

James Grier Miller

The Nature of Living Systems

General systems behavior theory is a set of related definitions, assumptions, and propositions which deal with reality as an integrated hierarchy of organizations of matter and energy. General systems behavior theory is concerned with a special subset of all systems: the living ones. Even more basic to this presentation than the concept of “system” are the concepts of “space,” “time,” “matter,” “energy,” and “information,” because the living systems discussed in this paper exist in space and are made of matter and energy organized by information.

Erich Jantsch

The Self-Organizing Universe

The evolution of the universe—ranging from cosmic and biological to sociocultural evolution—is viewed in terms of the unifying paradigm of self-organization. The contours of this paradigm emerge from the synthesis of a number of important concepts, and provide a scientific foundation to a new world-view which emphasizes process over structure, nonequilibrium over equilibrium, evolution over permanency, and individual creativity over collective stabilization. The book, with its emphasis on the interaction of microstructures with the entire biosphere, ecosystems etc., and on how micro- and macrocosmos mutually create the conditions for their further evolution, provides a comprehensive framework for a deeper understanding of human creativity in a time of transition.