- Greek boat with steersman
Cybernetics comes from the Greek word ‘kybernitiki’ (the art of steering and controlling) and ‘kybernitis’ (the steersman). It denotes the study of control mechanisms in humans, animals and machines. Cyberneticists seek to understand the behavior of animals and humans and to develop models and machines, which can react to certain external influences in an intelligent fashion. In order to explain behavior, we must not only observe, measure and describe it, but also understand the biological processes behind it. Information processing in the nervous system plays a decisive role. In artificial systems or ‘machines’, the correlations are usually much simpler, because such machines are almost always constructed for a specific purpose and, in contrast to the living brain, they often consist exclusively or at least predominantly of information-processing structures. The field of biological cybernetics has developed a large number of different approaches, and their combination releases enormous synergies. Biological cybernetics pursues a broad spectrum of research on diverse animal species out of the great range brought forth by evolution and investigates a great number of biologically inspired artificial models, some of which have lastingly influenced the development of technical systems. A well-known example is the use of neural networks in computer science.