Application Reading--The Circle Of Feedback

 The circle of feedback in Technomanifesto is a review of mathematician, scientist Norbert Wiener’s book—The Human Use of Human Beings.

Wiener believed the way which convey the information may change our thought, our habits, even the structure of our brains. He argued that information should circulate. Just as he convinced, the distribution of information drove the “Technical Revolution” after World War 2.

Nobert Wiener introduced Cybernetic and claimed everything (human beings, organism, machines) is the carrier of information, and achieve a balance situation by commute and transmit information, as well as receive feedback with external world.

Just like a machine receives positive feedbacks when it works and negative feedbacks come to correct its errors. Machines work in this feedback circulation and can learn to adjust itself. To human, our nervous system runs on innumerable feedback loops between our brains, nerves, and communications happen all the time. Our body regulates itself according to negative feedbacks and keeps itself in a healthy condition.

Cybernetic reveal that every machines, bodies, communities, even societies, their external and internal communication can use negative and positive feedback to achieve equilibrium, and maintain themselves in a balance condition. The way we live in this world is that we commute with external world as well as we exchange information with environment around us and obtain energy (a kind of information) and feedback (information), using our ability to defeat entropy, to maintain inners’ order system.

In this way, what is the difference between our human beings and machines? We are used to devote ourselves in creating new machines, and focus on new technology to contribute the digital empire. We use machines to help us to do more and more works to liberate human beings’labor; We make use of technology, dedicating every minute to get along with Cyberspace and digital world. We shop, chat, do homework, even have a love affair on the Internet. Can you imagine the life without cellphone and Internet? In fact, the WIFI in my apartment has been broken for 4 days long and it has been really a nightmare! I can barely do nothing without the Internet! I thought I could handle that situation, but the fact is I was defeated, by myself. I could not bear the life without information communication online. Actually, none of us can live without digital media, we are totally controlled. Our thinking ways, life style and living speed have been totally changed since decades ago. I believe we invented those awesome technical things in order to make life easier. However, did they? They do make our life more convenient but they DO NOT make lives simple. It is even more complicated.

We should have a stronger internal world. The speed of development of our psychological world and our moral sense should catch up with the advanced technique. Or we will lift a rock only to drop it on our own feets by using inproper technology like Weapon of Mass Destruction. Technology is a “double-edged sword”. We should walk further on theory research and conscience contribution to get the ability to distinguish the good and the evil in this overwhelming world.

According to Cybernetic, we address information around us in the same way with machines. However, what saves us out of this kind of similarity? What distinguish us from machine and other organic. What makes us unique? I think the core competitiveness of humankind is we have multitudinous emotions; We have empathy and sympathy to care about others and can understand others’ emotion. We have subjective dynamics to handle the potential intricate problems and explore the world around us. Human beings have been able to carry out a large number of studies and research work, we have possibility and diversity in our body’s structure which contribute to support us do thousands of different works, all of these things make us different from machines and other organism.

I went to MOMA last Saturday and I saw an interesting installation work named “Lightweeds (2006)”made by Simon Heijaens. It’s a living digital organism. Digital plants grow indoors but depend on materials (sunshine, rainfall, winds) measured in outside world. “Lightweeds” are responding to information captured by sensors (outside the wall of building in MOMA’s garden.). When you go by the wall, these digital plants will bend and swing just like the real plants.


I think it’s an awesome work. But, why do we always try to use technology to mimic biological creatures and make artificial things. Is that we really admire the mystery world created by nature? Is that our fear of losing these natural things drive us to build digital world to be an alternative? Is that human beings’ primitive instinct—“to be like God”impel us creating world? Or Is that simply make sure what we can do? Game designer always underline the immersive experience in making video games. They try to build a digital world to imitate real world and hope to stimulate people’s emotion. However actually, these digital things in some ways lighten our stress of losing things and lessen our guilty of making mistakes. The plants on the wall will not die even you put too much water; The pets on the screen will never die no matter what you do, even if they die in the game you can own a new one easily. Creating by code and easy be duplicated, digital things give us more relax space to face the things around us. However it’s not a good way to feel human beings’ benefits on our marvelous genes. Why we now pay so much attention on making artificial things meanwhile ignore the nature around us?

We always submerged in the ocean of the information forgetting forget who we are and what we are doing. We believe advanced technology is everything and most of us are fans for new inventions. It will be a disaster if one day the networking collapses and all the things depending on the Internet disappear, tens of thousands works, recording of those years’history, messages, knowledge shows on Wikipedia, emotions derived by those information vanish, what do we have in our hand at that time?

We cannot forget our inherent talent –the capacity and motivation to empathy others; the ability to discover and creative. The possibility and diversity in our genes make us have most complicated emotion and different from each other. We just need more time to focus on ourselves, on each individual. We should take more time to think carefully about the relationship between technology and us, how individuals, communities, societies communicate and how to make use of our talent and materials.