In his 1950 book, "The Human Use of Human Beings," [PDF] Wiener envisioned a utopia in which automation would relieve humanity of manual labor to allow more creative pursuits. Sixty years later, we have much automation, but income inequality rather than utopia. Wiener died in Stockholm, Sweden, at age 69.also btw...
The crater, Wiener, on the far side of the Moon is named after him. I've always believed in "Wiener's Law of Libraries," "There are no answers, only cross references". The IEEE is sponsoring a conference, Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century, commemorating Norbert Wiener.
Both von Neumann and Wiener were outsiders to biology. Both were inspired by biology and both proposed models and generalizations that proved inspirational for biologists. Around the same time in the 1940s von Neumann developed the notion of self reproducing automata and Wiener suggested an explication of teleology using the notion of negative feedback. These efforts were similar in spirit. Both von Neumann and Wiener used mathematical ideas to attack foundational issues in biology, and the concepts they articulated had lasting effect. But there were significant differences as well. Von Neumann presented a how-possibly model, which sparked interest by mathematicians and computer scientists, while Wiener collaborated more directly with biologists, and his proposal influenced the philosophy of biology. The two cases illustrate different strategies by which mathematicians, the "professional outsiders" of science, can choose to guide their engagement with biological questions and with the biological community, and illustrate different kinds of generalizations that mathematization can contribute to biology. The different strategies employed by von Neumann and Wiener and the types of models they constructed may have affected the fate of von Neumann's and Wiener's ideas – as well as the reputation, in biology, of von Neumann and Wiener themselves.
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