In England, in the 1960s, a business consultant named Stafford Beer was applying concepts of cybernetics to business management. He believed a business could be thought of as an intelligent system. If the goal of a business is to sell more product, or work more efficiently, one could (using the principles of cybernetics) design the system to work toward that goal.
Flores thought that Stafford Beer could use Cybernetics to help model and manage Chile’s economy, and Beer was thrilled at the chance to apply his ideas on such a grand scale. Beer arrived in Chile in 1971 to begin on this project, which they called “Cybersyn.”
Stafford Beer first set about making a cybernetic model of Chile’s economy that mapped out how all of the different parts of the economy connected within the larger system. Beer also wanted to enable the different parts of the Chilean economy to communicate easily with each other and thought computers could help accomplish this.
Stafford Beer and the team he had assembled set about creating a computer network that would connect all of the factories in Chile. This was a really novel concept for the time, but there was a problem: it was the 1970s—there weren’t many computers in Chile. Stafford Beer was only able to get one computer to create his network.
Their solution was to use telex machines. A telex is like a typewriter connected to a phone line. So if one factory had a telex, they could type out a message, and send it to another telex. The messages might contain data about shortages in raw material or how many workers were showing up to their shifts. This data would be entered into the computer and analyzed, and subsequently, decisions could be made about how to address problems.