Günther, Gotthard: Das Bewußtsein der Maschinen
Eine Metaphysik der Kybernetik
When Günther's book first appeared in 1957, cybernetics was considered the universal science of the future. It had been discovered that basically vacuum cleaners and states work according to the same principles. Günther was not only a philosopher, versed in German Idealism and logic, but also a fan of science fiction literature. This enabled him to fully grasp the importance of this new way of thinking, with Norbert Wiener as its foremost proponent. The book Das Bewußtsein der Maschinen (The Consciousness of Machines) is probably the first philosophical work in the wake of Wiener's fundamental texts to locate and interpret cybernetics in the widest possible context of Western metaphysics. For Günther – as, incidentally, for his antipode Martin Heidegger – it was clear that cybernetics was destined to eventually change humanity. Unlike Heidegger, however, Günther enthusiastically welcomed this change, though he was cautious about the possibility of self-aware machines. Since this prognosis of a profoundly universal technological revolution, brought about especially by the computer, has been confirmed, and because, moreover, an even more far-reaching change of the world by robots is already underway, a new look at Günther's work may remind us of a discussion whose significance we can perhaps only now adequately assess.
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