Norbert Wiener (November 26, 1894 – March 16, 1964) was an American scientist, mathematician, and philosopher. He served as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is considered as the father of cybernetics and computer ethics. The results of his work in mathematics, cybernetics, communication theory, computer design, information theory and philosophy are considered to be a foundation for both the modern information age and information and computer ethics . He was the recipient of the 1963 National Medal of Science .
Early Years and Education
Wiener was born on November 26, 1894 in Columbia, Missouri to Leo and Bertha Wiener. His father was a professor of Slavic languages at Harvard University. Wiener attended school for the first time at the age of seven attending the Peabody School. Unsure of what grade would fit him best, his parents placed him in the third grade. After a short time it was determined that the fourth grade would be a better fit. This did not last long either, because while Wiener was well versed in some subject areas he was under-equipped in others. After this, Wiener's father took over his education until he reached the age of nine and attended high school in Ayers, Massachusetts. He graduated at age 11.
Wiener acquired his first collegiate degree at Tufts University in 1909, a BA in mathematics. He then began graduate studies at Harvard with a focus on zoology. His first year did not go well due to his poor vision and lack of coordination. Fortunately, Wiener had won a scholarship to Cornell and he began graduate studies in philosophy there in 1910. Again, his first year did not go well and before it was finished Norbert's father had arranged for Norbert to resume his studies at Harvard, this time in philosophy. Upon his return to Harvard, Norbert was influenced by Edward Huntington's teaching in mathematical philosophy. He acquired his Ph.D in 1912 with a dissertation on mathematical logic. He was eighteen at the time.
After graduation, Wiener traveled to Cambridge in order to continue his studies of mathematical philosophy. Bertrand Russell was his chief mentor and advised him to learn more mathematics before he continue his pursuit of mathematical philosophy. This spurred Wiener to study under Hardy and Littlewood at Cambridge as well as Hilbert and Landau at the University of Göttingen. He returned to the United States in 1915, and worked a number of jobs before taking a position in the mathematics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1919. He became an assistant professor in 1924, an associate professor in 1929 and a full professor in 1932. He remained at MIT until his retirement.
Early in his career at MIT, Wiener studied Brownian motion. He was the first to mathematically describe Brownian motion and his work allowed it to be quantified probabilistically. This work became applicable in a number of fields including mathematics, physics and economics. Standard Brownian motion is often referred to as the Wiener process. Sanjoy Mitter, a MIT professor of electrical engineering claims that Wiener's work on Brownian motion is, "a fundamental building block in stochastic models and stochastic control."
Wiener made several key contributions to information theory and in turn provided a philosophical and scientific grounding for information and computer ethics . He made many speculations and assumptions about the nature of information in our universe, many of which are in play today. His key ideas included:
Wiener's claims about the role of information in the Universe were expanded upon by later research and discoveries in physics. His belief that all entities consist of information encoded in matter-energy was expanded by Princeton's John Wheeler, who suggested that information is fundamental to the physics of the universe. . Charles Seife furthered Weiner's claims that information is physical, writing, "Every molecule, atom, and elementary particle registers bits of information. Every interaction between those pieces of the universe processes that information by altering those bits," . Furthermore, a student of Wheeler's Jacob Bekenstein discovered that the information encoded in matter-energy in every entity in the Universe appears to be digital and finite. Bekenstein discovered the Bekenstein bound, which is the upper restriction on the quantity of information that can be contained in a volume .
Contributions to Information and Computer ethics
Wiener is considered to be a key player in the development of cybernetics, particularly with regard to the social implications of new technology 
He recognized that new computing technology would have the potential for good and evil stating, “Long before Nagasaki and the public awareness of the atomic bomb, it had occurred to me that we were here in the presence of another social potentiality of unheard-of importance for good and for evil,”. While Wiener worried about potential technological harms, such as unemployment caused by robots and computers making ethically disastrous decisions on behalf of humans, his view of cybernetic machines was often optimistic rather than negative Another significant contribution Wiener made to information ethics was the introduction of the concept of entropy. Wiener considered the fundamental natural evil to be entropy, defined by Terrell Ward Bynum as, “the loss of useful Shannon information and useful energy that occurs in virtually every physical change,” . The concept of entropy is crucial in the work of information ethicist Luciano Floridi .
After World War II Weiner became increasingly concerned with the ethical implications of technology and the militarization of science. In 1947 he wrote an article in the The Atlantic Monthly titled, “A Scientist Rebels” which implored scientists to consider the ethical consequences of their work . He declined an invitation to become a part of the Manhattan Project and after World War II refused to accept government funding or work on military projects .
Wiener devoted attention to the ethics surrounding Non-Human agents. He predicted an "automatic age" that would be occupied by machines with, "brains of brass and thews of iron,”. He believed that decision-making machines would need to have a code of ethics programmed into them. However, he was concerned that machines that could learn on their own would eventually redefine their code of ethics and that the results could be decisions with huge ethical consequences. He was one of the first to believe that a machine could duplicate human intelligence theoretically, but that the scope and complexity of such a project would probably prevent it from being fully achieved .