Norbert Wiener quotes

  • Let us remember that the automatic machine is the precise economic equivalent of slave labor. Any labor which competes with slave labor must accept the economic consequences of slave labor.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Machines #Remember #Slave

  • We have modified our environment so radically that we must now modify ourselves to exist in this new environment.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Environment #Our Environment

  • Progress imposes not only new possibilities for the future but new restrictions.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Progress #Possibility #Restriction

  • A painter like Picasso, who runs through many periods and phases, ends up by saying all those things which are on the tip of the tongue of the age to say, and finally sterilizes the originality of his contemporaries and juniors.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Running #Age #Phases

  • The more we get out of the world the less we leave, and in the long run we shall have to pay our debts at a time that may be very inconvenient for our own survival.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Running #Long #Survival

  • There are no answers, only cross references
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Answers #Crosses

  • Any labor which competes with slave labor must accept the economic conditions of slave labor.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Slave #Economic #Accepting

  • Progress imposes not only new possibilities for the future but new restrictions. It seems almost as if progress itself and our fight against the increase of entropy intrinsically must end in the downhill path from which we are trying to escape.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Fighting #Progress #Trying

  • I have said that the modern man, and especially the modern American, however much 'know-how' he may have, has very little 'know-what'
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Men #May #Littles

  • Just as entropy is a measure of disorganization, the information carried by a set of messages is a measure of organization. In fact, it is possible to interpret the information carried by a message as essentially the negative of its entropy, and the negative logarithm of its probability. That is, the more probable the message, the less information it gives. Cliches, for example, are less illuminating than great poems.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Organization #Giving #Example

  • We are but whirlpools in a river of ever-flowing water. We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves. A pattern is a message, and may be transmitted as a message.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Rivers #Water #May

  • In a very real sense, we are shipwrecked passengers on a doomed planet. Yet, even in a shipwreck, human decencies and human values do not necessarily vanish, and we must make the most of them. We shall go down, but let it be in a manner to which we may look forward as worthy of our dignity.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Real #Looks #May

  • The simplest type of breakdown exhibits itself as an oscillation in a goal-seeking process which appears only when that process is actively invoked.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Goal #Process #Type

  • To live effectively is to live with adequate information.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Adequate #Information

  • Scientific discovery consists in the interpretation for our own convenience of a system of existence which has been made with no eye to our convenience at all.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Eye #Discovery #Made

  • The nervous system and the automatic machine are fundamentally alike in that they are devices, which make decisions on the basis of decisions they made in the past.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Past #Decision #Machines

  • I have said that science is impossible without faith. ... Inductive logic, the logic of Bacon, is rather something on which we can act than something which we can prove, and to act on it is a supreme assertion of faith ... Science is a way of life which can only fluorish when men are free to have faith.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Science #Men #Way

  • There is one quality more important than know-how.... This is know-how by which we determine not only how to accomplish our purposes, but what our purposes are to be.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Determination #Quality #Important

  • The best material model of a cat is another, or preferably the same, cat.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Witty #Cat #Models

  • If the human being is condemned and restricted to perform the same functions over and over again, he will not even be a good ant, not to mention a good human being.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Ants #Function #Humans

  • The idea that information can be stored in a changing world without an overwhelming depreciation of its value is false. It is scarcely less false than the more plausible claim that after a war we may take our existing weapons, fill their barrels with information.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #War #Ideas #World

  • The simple faith in progress is not a conviction belonging to strength, but one belonging to acquiescence and hence to weakness.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Simple #Progress #Acquiescence

  • The most fruitful areas for the growth of the sciences were those which had been neglected as a no-man's land between the various established fields.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Men #Land #Growth

  • The mechanical brain does not secrete thought "as the liver does bile," as the earlier materialists claimed, nor does it put it out in the form of energy, as the muscle puts out its activity. Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Brain #Information #Matter

  • Until we in the community have made up our minds that what we really want is expiation, or removal, or reform, or or the discouragement of potential criminals, we shall get none of these, but only a confusion in which crime breeds more crime.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Confusion #Community #Mind

  • We are in the position of the man who has only two ambitions in life. One is to invent the universal solvent which will dissolve any solid substance, and the second is to invent the universal container which will hold any liquid. Whatever this inventor does, he will be frustrated.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Ambition #Men #Two

  • What sometimes enrages me and always disappoints and grieves me is the preference of great schools of learning for the derivative as opposed to the original, for the conventional and thin which can be duplicated in many copies rather than the new and powerful, and for arid correctness and limitation of scope and method rather than for universal newness and beauty, wherever it may be seen.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Powerful #School #Grieving

  • The sense of tragedy is that the world is not a pleasant little nest made for our protection, but a vast and largely hostile environment, in which we can achieve great things only by defying the gods; and that this defiance inevitably brings its own punishment.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Punishment #Tragedy #World

  • A faith which we follow upon orders imposed from outside is no faith, and a community which puts its dependence upon such a pseudo-faith is ultimately bound to ruin itself because of the paralysis which the lack of a healthy growing science imposes upon it.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Order #Community #Healthy

  • A significant idea of organization cannot be obtained in a world in which everything is necessary and nothing is contingent
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Ideas #Organization #World

  • The automatic machine, whatever we thinkof any feelings it may or may not have, is the precise economic equivalent of the slave.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Feelings #May #Machines

  • the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Communication #Animal #Machines

  • A single inattention may lose a chess game, whereas a single successful approach to a problem, among many which have been relegated to the wastebasket, will make a mathematician's reputation.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Successful #Games #May

  • What most experimenters take for granted before they begin their experiments is infinitely more interesting than any results to which their experiments lead.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Interesting #Granted #Results

  • It is easy to make a simple machine which will run toward the light or run away from it, and if such machines also contain lights of their own, a number of them together will show complicated forms of social behavior...
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Running #Simple #Light

  • Our tissues change as we live: the food we eat and the air we breathe become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, and the momentary elements of our flesh and bone pass out of our body every day with our excreta. We are but whirlpools in a river of ever-flowing water. We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Air #Rivers #Water

  • The modern physicist is a quantum theorist on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and a student of gravitational relativity on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Sunday, he is praying... that someone will find the reconciliation between the two views.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Friday #Monday #Sunday

  • A professor is one who can speak on any subject - for precisely fifty minutes.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Fifty #Speak #Professors

  • Science is a way of life which can only flourish when men are free to have faith.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Faith #Men #Have Faith

  • The Advantage is that mathematics is a field in which one's blunders tend to show very clearly and can be corrected or erased with a stroke of the pencil. It is a field which has often been compared with chess, but differs from the latter in that it is only one's best moments that count and not one's worst. A single inattention may lose a chess game, whereas a single successful approach to a problem, among many which have been relegated to the wastebasket, will make a mathematician's reputation.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Successful #Games #May

  • Any use of a human being in which less is demanded of him and less is attributed to him than his full status is a degradation and a waste.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Use #Waste #Degradation

  • One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an advisor ... is to discourage ... from expecting too much from mathematics.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Learning #Science #Discovery

  • The advantage is that mathematics is a field in which one's blunders tend to show very clearly and can be corrected or erased with a stroke of the pencil.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Math #Fields #Logic

  • It is possible to believe in progress as a fact without believing in progress as an ethical principle; but in the catechism of many Americans, the one goes with the other.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Believe #Progress #Facts

  • In all important respects, the man who has nothing but his physical power to sell has nothing to sell which it is worth anyone's money to buy
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Men #Important #He Man

  • The world of the future will be an even more demanding struggle against the limitations of our intelligence, not a comfortable hammock in which we can lie down to be waited upon by our robot slaves.
    -- Norbert Wiener

    #Lying #Struggle #Robots