"Gordon Pask: From a Childhood Curiosity to the Envisioning of an Evolving Environment" (Forthcoming)
by Gonçalo Furtado
REVIEW BY PEDRO MARTINS (Expert on AI and former friend of professor Gordon Pask)
This is an outstanding book about the most fascinating personality I have met in my life and with whom I have been in a close and friend contact for more than twenty years: Andrew Gordon Speedie Pask. Based on private documents provided by one of his daughters (many of which, due to their private and intimate character, are not in Gordon’s Archives in Vienna) Prof. Gonçalo Furtado has written a magic (albeit true) biography of Gordon Pask, portraying either the man behind the scientist or the links he set up between Architecture and Cybernetics (essentially focused on his relationships with Cedric Price and John Frazer). It was followed by extensive interviews with some of those that been directly in touch with Pask.
Furtado’s book is divided into three main parts. The first deals with Pask’s life (private and professional) as well as with the role he played in the emergence of second-order cybernetics. The second part includes an account of an architectural project made by Cedric Price but in which the role that Pask played was crucial: “Japan Net”, a seminal although almost unknown expression of second-order cybernetics. Finally, the third part lays emphasis upon the rise of the so-called “information environment”, Pask’s later achievements, and his reencounters with Price and Frazer. So, the book is a ‘must’ either for those who have known him or a paradigmatic reference for all who - like him - have their ideas far ahead of their epochs.
Gonçalo Furtado is Professor in the Faculty of Architecture in the Oporto University (FAOU). Together with his graduation in this University, he also got a Master in Architecture (Universidad Politecnica da Catalunha, Spain) and a PhD in Theory and History of Architecture (University College of London, He gave lectures in Portugal, United Kingdom, United States of America, Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Austria and Mexico. He is also the author of several books such as “Notes on the space of digital technique” (Oporto: Mimesis, 2002), “Marcos Cruz: Unpredictable bodies (Oporto: Mimesis, 2004), “Off fourm: Postglobal city and marginal design discourses” (Bogota-Oporto: PEI, 2004), “Interferencias: Conformação, implementação e futuro da cultura digital” (Oporto, 2005), “The construction of the critical project” (Bogota-OPorto: PEI, 2005), “Architecture: machine and body” (edited with Rui Braz; Oporto: FaupEditorial, 2006), “Generator and Beyond” (Semear Palavras, Jan. 2008).
As an expert in the exchanges amongst architecture, cybernetics, systems research, AI and computation, he has already began to pay the price of being a man ‘ahead of his time’, with all the advantages and disadvantages that this feature brings about.
Pedro Medina Martins received a BSEE and MSEE in IST (1966,1967), and he got a PhD in University of Brunel (1986). He taught at IST (Cybernetics and Fuzzy/Neural Control); he was an invited Professor of the FLL and of the Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada where he lectured on ‘Modelling Mental and Brain Control Systems’, etc.
He is a member of the Portuguese Society for Cybernetics, American Society For Cybernetics, Neuro-Psychoanalytic Society etc He got several International Awards (Viena, Liege, USA) as well as registered Patents. All deal with the same research area: the emulation of human ‘mechanisms’ in non-trivial machines (robots); and, since 2000, Non-Natural Consciousness.
Pedro Medina Martins cursou Engenharia Electrónica e o seu equivalente a mestrado
No IST (1966, 1967); e possui Doturamento por Brunel (1986). Ensinou no IST (Cibernética e Fuzzy/Neural control); foi professor convidado da FLL e do Instituo Superior de Psicologia aplicada onde palestrou sobre “Modelação dos Sistemas de Controlo existentes na Psique e no Cérebro Humanos” etc.
È membro da Sociedade Portuguesa de Cibernética, da American Society For Cybernetics, Neuro-Psychoanalytic Society etc. Obteve diversos Prémios internacionais (Vienna, Liege, USA) tal como registos de patentes. Tudo veio relacionado com a mesma área de investigação: o emulamento de ‘mecanismos’ humanos em máquinas não-triviais (robots); e, desde 2000, Consciência não-natural.