London When I was young I made myself aprisoner of my room. It became part of me, an extension of my being. I thought of the walls as my shell. The room as a container had some relationship to the imaginary space inside a monitor . . .—Peter Campus, conversationwith Barbara Nierhoff, 2003 1
Warren S. McCulloch, a scientist, physician, philosopher and poet, was one of the 20th century’s greatest and most versatile minds. In 1952, after 12 years of research in psychiatry and neurology, McCulloch turned his formidable skills to problems of neurophysiology, mathematics, cybernetics and the mechanics of logic, joining the Research Laboratory of Electronics at M.I.T. He became a key person in the new field of cybernetics—the study of complex systems, especially communication systems, in living organisms and technology. At M.I.T., along with his team of J. Letvin, W. Pitts and H. Maturana, he studied the visual system of the frog and discovered that the eye has an active role in organizing and interpreting visual information before it is sent to the brain: in short, that knowledge is a part of perception. Their groundbreaking paper was titled “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain,” and it was published in 1959.