"theory or study of communication and control," coined 1948 by U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), with -ics + Latinized form of Greek kybernetes "steersman" (metaphorically "guide, governor"), from kybernan "to steer or pilot a ship, direct as a pilot," figuratively "to guide, govern," which is of uncertain origin. Beekes agrees that "the word has no cognates" and concludes "Foreign origin is probable." The construction is perhaps based on 1830s French cybernétique "the art of governing."
The future offers very little hope for those who expect that our new mechanical slaves will offer us a world in which we may rest from thinking. Help us they may, but at the cost of supreme demands upon our honesty and our intelligence. [Norbert Wiener, "God and Golem, Inc.," 1964]
updated on June 10, 2018
Dictionary entries near cybernetics