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Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  47 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In Cybernetic Revolutionaries, Eden Medina tells the history of two intersecting utopian visions, one political and one technological. The first was Chile's experiment with peaceful socialist change under Salvador Allende; the second was the simultaneous attempt to build a computer system that would manage Chile's economy. Neither vision was fully realized--Allende's gover ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published November 4th 2011 by MIT Press (MA) (first published January 1st 2011)
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Malini Sridharan
Dec 12, 2011 Malini Sridharan rated it liked it
The story and research here is fascinating and right up my alley-- cybernetics, management, mainframe computers!!! Flowcharts!!! I am very glad that I read this book.

However, the analysis was not particularly interesting. Rather than either letting events speak for themselves (which they easily could have done) or going deep into the ideas around the project, the author makes statements that, to be honest, reminded me of everything that is wrong with grade school research essays-- statements tha
Stephen Thompson
Nov 23, 2014 Stephen Thompson rated it it was amazing
I loved this! It's a neat mix of history, applied mathematics, and leftist politics.

Allende, after running on a platform that called for a peaceful and constitutional transition to socialism, was elected president of Chile in 1970. In order to manage the newly nationalized sectors of the economy, the Allende government brought in Stafford Beer, the founder of “management cybernetics.” Cybernetics is a branch of applied math concerned with the control and regulation of complex systems, and is oft
Aug 03, 2015 Nico rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
En serio:
Este libro debería ser al menos en parte, de lectura o conocimiento obligatorio en las escuelas de ingeniería, sobre todo porque es un estudio de un caso chileno de cómo la ciencia y la tecnología no son neutrales ni apolíticas, de cómo se puede hacer innovación (de la de verdad, no ese mamarracho que se vende en todos lados ahora) con baja tecnología, y cómo la inclusión de la tecnología afecta a un grupo social, ya sea alterando o reforzando las relaciones que existen.
Apr 07, 2016 Leah rated it really liked it
A Lucid history of Fernando Flores and Stafford Beer's collaboration in Allende's Chile; useful for thinking about how utopias dovetail with technology in a socialist context (my reading: the accusations of technocracy ultimately brought down Flores & Beer's efforts, but, uh, they weren't doing so well at implementing their cybernetic central planning anyway), and for a practical counterexample (or example) to marxist debates about the role of technology in history's ends.
Dec 11, 2013 Robharries rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Now because of GRs stupid personalized rating system on how much you enjoyed/loved/liked a book I must say this deserves a four out of five for quality of content, however, I liked it but hardly an overly interesting read from a personal perspective, hence three stars.

A pretty good overview of the history of project cybersyn, weaving the life of beer, the Allende government, flores and other characters in this somewhat obscure (although becoming more well know) story of cybersyn. A good academic
Graham Lee
Feb 20, 2015 Graham Lee rated it it was amazing
This is a really interesting history on the inextricable link between technological and political models of a system, using the cybernetics and democratic socialism of Chile's cybersyn project as its working example. The author's bias is generally leftist and sympathetic to the project in the face of external factors blocking its success.

If you know someone who thinks that the design and construction of a software (or other technological) system is apolitical and it's other people who choose how
Zara Rahman
May 30, 2015 Zara Rahman rated it liked it
The story behind this book is truly fascinating, and Medina goes into a great deal of detail in recounting the history behind Project Cybersyn. I found the book quite dry in places, perhaps due to the detail, and longer than I expected - that said, I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
Jackie Mccarthy
Mar 23, 2015 Jackie Mccarthy rated it liked it
I learned about this book from the New Yorker; I think it's actually a dissertation. Super wonky, but interesting to think of data-driven economic policy 20 years before the Internet. Big Data, 1970s style, complete with a groovy-looking control room.
Jun 25, 2014 Kyle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: synco
heres a spirited exchange from a few years ago on this very subject:
Oct 13, 2013 Ray rated it really liked it
Good history; interesting look at the relationship between mathematical cyberneticism, economics, and government.
Apr 18, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it
An excellent work on the history of technology, with thought given to alternative and non Global North paths.
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