AI vs. Cybernetics

ai vs cybernetics


In modern times, the term became widespread because Norbert Wiener wrote a book called “Cybernetics” in 1948. His sub-title was “control and communication in the animal and machine”. This was important because it connects control (a.k.a., actions taken in hope of achieving goals) with communication (a.k.a., connection and information flow between the actor and the environment). So, Wiener is pointing out that effective action requires communication.

…where objectivity derives from shared agreement about meaning, and where information (or intelligence for that matter) is an attribute of an interaction rather than a commodity stored in a computer.

More brachiopods! The spiral lophophores are a filtering apparatus. 

Image 1: “Fig. 8. Hypothetical representation of efficiency of the filtering system of some extinct spire-bearing brachiopods showing flow patterns and extension of area for trapping food resources. Inhalant and exhalant currents according toVogel (1975) and diagram modified from Ager and Riggs (1964).”

Image 2: “Fig. 9. Hypothetical representation of efficiency of the filtering system present in extinct productid brachiopods showing flow patterns and extension of area for trapping food resources. Inhalant and exhalant currents as in a similar model proposed for Falafer Grant (1972) and diagram modified from Brunton et al. (2000) without including his interpretations.”


Pérez-Huerta and Sheldon. 2006. “Pennsylvanian sea level cycles, nutrient availability and brachiopod paleoecology.” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Volume 230, Issues 3–4, 30 January 2006, Pages 264–279.

More brachiopods! The spiral lophophores are a filtering apparatus. 

Image 1: Brachiopod, (image source)

Image 2: Magellania, an articulate brachiopod (source)

Image 3: Group of brachiopods. (Source). The coolest one is “E”:

Notosaria nigricans E. Brachial interior with spirolophous lophophore 


Sounds like we have a word (or phrase) of the day!

Diagram by Edward Ott, Scholarpedia:

Figure 1: (a) Double well potential V(x) , and (b) the resulting basins of attraction.

Caption: “Intercalation induces structural distortions. Left: unchanged DNA strand. Right: DNA strand intercalated at three locations (black areas).”

“In chemistryintercalation is the reversible inclusion of a molecule (or group) between two other molecules (or groups). Examples include DNA intercalation and graphite intercalation compounds.”

From the Wikipedia article on “Intercalation

(img source)


An electromagnetic wave bootstraps itself through the void

Image 1: Source: Wikipedia article on “Electromagnetic radiation” (image source; cc-by-sa)

Caption: “Electromagnetic waves can be imagined as a self-propagating transverse oscillating wave of electric and magnetic fields. This 3D diagram shows a plane linearly polarized wave propagating from left to right.”


Image 2: Source: Wikipedia article on “Electromagnetic radiation” (image source; cc-by-sa)

Caption: “This 3D diagram shows a plane linearly polarized wave propagating from left to right. Note that the electric and magnetic fields in such a wave are in-phase with each other, reaching minima and maxima together.”


Image 3: Source: Wikipedia article on “Electromagnetic radiation” (image source; cc-by-sa)

Caption: “The electromagnetic waves that compose electromagnetic radiation can be imagined as a self-propagating transverse oscillating wave of electric and magnetic fields. This diagram shows a plane linearly polarized EMR wave propagating from left to right. The electric field is in a vertical plane and the magnetic field in a horizontal plane. The two types of fields in EMR waves are always in phase with each other with a fixed ratio of electric to magnetic field intensity.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If compression waves, like sound, need to travel through a carrier medium, then how can electromagnetic waves propagate themselves through empty space?

A photon acts a little like the Glider in Conway’s Game of Life: at each step, it creates the conditions for the next step. Now, this is just one way of viewing an electromagnetic wave, and far from complete. But it’s interesting to think about!

More quotes from Wikipedia:

“Similar to the way that a changing magnetic field generates an electric field, a changing electric field generates a magnetic field. This fact is known as Maxwell’s correction to Ampère’s law. Maxwell’s correction to Ampère’s Law bootstrap together with Faraday’s law of induction to form electromagnetic waves, such as light. Thus, a changing electric field generates a changing magnetic field, which generates a changing electric field again.”

(Source: Wikipedia article on “Magnetic field”)

“A common misconception is that the E and B fields in electromagnetic radiation are out of phase because a change in one produces the other, and this would produce a phase difference between them as sinusoidal functions (as indeed happens in electromagnetic induction, and in the near-field close to antennas). However, in the far-field EM radiation which is described by the two source-free Maxwell curl operator equations, a more correct description is that a time-change in one type of field is proportional to a space-change in the other. These derivatives require that the E and B fields in EMR are in-phase (see math section below).”

(Source: Wikipedia article on “Electromagnetic radiation”)

And it gets weirder: 

According to the special theory of relativity, the partition of the electromagnetic force into separate electric and magnetic components is not fundamental, but varies with the observational frame of reference: An electric force perceived by one observer may be perceived by another (in a different frame of reference) as a magnetic force, or a mixture of electric and magnetic forces.

Formally, special relativity combines the electric and magnetic fields into a rank-2 tensor, called the electromagnetic tensor. Changing reference frames mixes these components. This is analogous to the way that special relativity mixes space and time into spacetime, and mass, momentum and energy into four-momentum.”

(Source: Wikipedia article on “Magnetic field”)

Ceramium spp. and a bonus Callithamnion sp. (red algae)

Image 1: Source: Algaebase

Caption: Ceramium juliae, Morris Point, Stilbaai, South Africa. 31 Oct 2001. Herre Stegenga. © Herre Stegenga 

Image 2: Source: Algaebase

Caption: Ceramium mazatlanense. Hawaii; scale 300 µm. 15 Aug 2011. J.M. Huisman. © J.M. Huisman.

Image 3: Source: WoRMS (cc-by-nc-sa)

Caption: Ceramium pallidum

Description: microscope, location: Spain, Galicia, Coruña, Pantín’s beach, 2007
AuthorBárbara, Ignacio
JPG file – 1.22 MB – 1000 x 1350 pixels
added on 2008-03-19 – 356 views
WoRMS Taxa on this image: 
Ceramium pallidum (Nägeli ex Kützing) Maggs & Hommersand, 1993

Image 4: Ceramium ciliatum © C. Romero Zarco – Universidad de Sevilla, 2003

Image 5: Callithamnion sp., same source as Image 4

“The world’s largest viscous fingering simulation”

’nuff said

Source: Moore’s Law and the Saffman-Taylor Instability
Petri Fast and Michael J. Shelley
in Journal of Computational Physics 212, 1-5 (2005)

Images 1-3 from Marshall et al. 2007. “Stomatopod eye structure and function: A review.” Arthropod Structure & Development. Volume 36, Issue 4, Pages 420–448.

Image 4 from Marshall et al. 1999. “Behavioural evidence for polarisation vision in stomatopods reveals a potential channel for communication.” Current Biology. Volume 9, Issue 14, Pages 755–758.

Stomatopods rule! They have 16 photoreceptor classes!  Humans? A paltry 3! (Psssht, okay — and mayyybe up to 4. Rarely.) PLUS stomatopods can distinguish between linearly and circularly polarized light!

Slide by Michael Bok:

“This is a comparison of photoreceptor classes in human and mantis shrimp retinas. Each photoreceptor class has a distinct wavelength sensitivity curve. On the human plot, you can see our three cone photoreceptor classes; blue, green, and red. These receptors cover the electromagnetic light spectrum between 400 nm (violet) and 700 nm (red). Our brains are able to process relative stimulation between the three cone photoreceptor classes, allowing us to differentiate many colors.

Mantis Shrimp don’t have the advantage of a large brain for downstream processing, so they take another approach to seeing many colors: They have 16 distinct photoreceptor classes, packed via optical filtering into tight slivers of the spectrum. Of these, five classes are sensitive to UV light, below our visual range (these are the receptor classes that I am attempting to characterize). In addition, not shown in this slide, mantis shrimp can discriminate linearly and circularly polarized light.”

Comic from Abstruse Goose:

(Excellent reference in filename: if_the_doors_of_perception_were_expanded_everything_would_appear_as%20it_is-infinite.jpg)

Aliens got our message, and sent it to Spoonflower? I don’t quite know where this came from, but I like it!

I found the image via freshphotons, but I can’t find the original post. The diagrams are from the Dutil-Dumas message, which was created by Yvan Dutil and Stephane Dumas and transmitted in 1999 and 2003 as part of the Cosmic Call messages. Here is a detailed description of the Dutil-Dumas message content and diagrams: PDF

The color and arrangement of the diagrams seems to be the same as the image in this SEED magazine article, “Who Speaks for Earth?

But the tiling! The texture! Is this a fabric? I want to make things out of it!