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On the fourth episode of our series on the history of the discipline of Cybernetics and its relationship to the labor movement, we continue our discussions on the work of W Ross Ashby with his creation of the first fully self regulating machine, the Homeostat. This machine and its systems for returning itself to equilibrium provide a theoretical analogy for looking at how organizations like a labor union respond to changes to their environment. Ashby’s development of the concept of variety and the regulation of systems provides a different way of examining the problems of bureaucracy, ossification, and the incredible potential in realizing true democracy. In our next episodes, we will be moving to the work of Stafford Beer and the development of Management Cybernetics and the direct relationship between Cybernetics and Socialism.
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