Les rêves cybernétiques de Norbert Wiener, Paris, Seuil, 2014.
A missing scientist reappears in a kibbutz and is immediately murdered. Who was he and who killed him? This is the plot of a short fiction discovered in Norbert Wiener’s archives (and published here).
Based on this fiction, Pierre Cassou-Noguès attempts to reconstruct the journey and dilemmas of Norbert Wiener. Tireless traveller, versatile thinker, mathematician as much as novelist, Norbert Wiener invented at the end of the Second World War, under the term cybernetics, a new way of combining the human and the machine. Sometimes seduced by his own creatures, like Pygmalion, sometimes frightened by them, like Dr. Frankenstein, the scientist hesitates and hides behind countless screens. The investigation takes us from Freud’s office to the brains of automatic factories and to some of E. A. Poe’s nightmares. We meet detectives, robots, mad scientists and others who are not mad at all, wizards, machines that work and others that dance and play, a crow, cyborgs, posthumans.
The question, finally, is whether humans survive in this uncertain future that is now ours. Or has the human been eliminated? And if so, is it wrong? And by whom was he eliminated? The scientists, their machines or an ideology of labour that underlies capitalism as well as a certain Marxism?