You Are At: AllSands Home > Science > What is cybernetics?
Cybernetics may not be a term you are familiar with, but its products are all around us – the car in the driveway, the inner workings of your tv set, even componentry of your lap top computer. Cybernetics, you see, is that branch of science which deals with control mechanisms and the transmission of information, both in living things and in machines. The means for internal control in an animal – it’s nervous system – is similar to that within modern machinery. The internal system works by giving commands, feeding back information on progress, and controlling by adjustment as necessary. In factories, it is seen as the mechanical arm picking up and transporting parts and materials for assembly. Up-to-date automobile production facilities are mostly automatic. They utilise self regulating machines – robots – to do their work. Robots employ the same principles of command, feedback and control that animals do. They enable the robot to regulate it’s own activity. Machines that are finally able to control themselves!

The word robot originates from the Czech word for ‘forced labor.’ True to this name, most robots are designed to alleviate the work load of humans. They are equipped with computers through which they can be programmed for a number of jobs. They basically function according to an inbuilt control system with the elements of command, feedback and control. Initially, a working routine is fed into the robot’s memory. From that point on, command signals from the memory instruct the robot as to its every move. Within the memory, a comparison of progress with the original command produces a command to begin the next task.

A robot, however, can do only what it is programmed to do. It is programmed by humans. By comparison, the human brain far exceeds the most powerful computer in problem solving ability. It can act quickly and respond to changing stimuli instantly. So, although robots, an outgrowth of cybernetics, can take away much of the back-breaking work of human labour, it can never approximate the complexity of the human machine.