Today, cyber means war. But back in the 1990s, it meant sex — at least, the kind of sex you can have in a chat room. Why did the word change, and where did it originally come from?
It all started with “cybernetics,” an obscure term popularized by a mathematician named Norbert Weiner in the 1940s. For his groundbreaking book Cybernetics, Weiner borrowed the ancient Greek word “cyber,” which is related to the idea of government or governing. Indeed, the only time the word cybernetics had appeared before was in a few works of political theory about the science of governance.
In his writing, Weiner described what was at the time a pretty futuristic idea — that one day there would be a computer system that ran on feedback. Essentially, it would be a self-governing system. And for a long time, cybernetics remained the purview of information theorists like Weiner, and early computer programmers.
This is the article I wanted to write.