Project Cybersyn

30 Jan 2022 11:39

An early attempt at using networked computers for economic management in Allende's Chile, with the involvement of the British cyberneticist Stafford Beer. This has something of a cult following among contemporary socialists, in no small part, I suspect, because of the period glamour of the photographs of the control room, and because of the aura of righteous martyrdom given the fate of Allende and his government. Considering my interests in the possibilities and limits of economic planning, however, what I want to get very clear on are:

  1. What the various participants (Beer, the various groups among the Chileans) hoped to achieve with Cybersyn;
  2. What the system as implemented actually achieved; and
  3. What a similar system might do with modern, or reasonably-foreseeable, technology.

The main source on all this is Medina's book, which I need to actually finish. (Honestly it's been so long since I started it that I should just re-read from scratch.) But I should also try to see what's been done since her book.