[ExI] Weiner: The Human Use of Human Beings

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Fri Jun 20 12:56:46 UTC 2008

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 1:15 PM, Natasha Vita-More wrote:
> This is a marvelous book and I am enjoying many elements of it but can
> anyone explain to me precisely what Weiner means by "human use of human
> beings"?  Weiner states that its thesis is that society "can only be
> understood through a study of the messages and the communication facilities
> which belong to it … between man and machine and between machine and
> machine…" etc.  Just what is the "human use" of human beings?  (I am not
> looking for an abstract or poetic description – I can do that.  I am
> interested in a more practical interpretation.)  Can a scientist on the list
> or someone who understands probability theory explain the books' title?

I think this article from Southern Connecticut State University explains it.

Norbert Wiener's Foundation of Computer Ethics
Terrell Ward Bynum

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, visionary mathematician/philosopher
Norbert Wiener founded computer ethics as a field of academic
research. In his groundbreaking book, The Human Use of Human Beings
(1950, 1954), Wiener developed a powerful method for identifying and
analyzing the enormous impacts of information and communication
technology (ICT) upon human values like life, health, happiness,
security, knowledge and creativity.
Wiener based his foundation for computer ethics upon a "cybernetic"
view of human nature that leads readily to an ethically suggestive
account of the purpose of a human life.

He means 'human use' as in fulfilling the meaning of what it is to be human.


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