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Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism

Creativity and the Promise of Openness


Michael A. Peters

We live in the age of global science – but not, primarily, in the sense of ‘universal knowledge’ that has characterized the liberal metanarrative of ‘free’ science and the ‘free society’ since its early development in the Enlightenment. Today, an economic logic links science to national economic policy, while globalized multinational science dominates an environment where quality assurance replaces truth as the new regulative ideal. This book examines the nature of educational and science-based capitalism in its cybernetic, knowledge, algorithmic and bioinformational forms before turning to the emergence of the global science system and the promise of openness in the growth of international research collaboration, the development of the global knowledge commons and the rise of the open science economy. Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism explores the nature of cognitive capitalism, the emerging mode of social production for public education and science and its promise for the democratization of knowledge.
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Chapter One: Cybernetic Capitalism, Informationalism and Cognitive Labor | with Rodrigo Britez and Ergin Bulut

Michael A. Peters, Rodrigo Britez, and Ergin Bulut


Chapter 1

Cybernetic Capitalism, Informationalism and Cognitive Labor

Modern cybernetics began with Norbert Weiner who defined the field with his 1948 book Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine where he developed the science of information feedback systems linking control and communication in an understanding of the computer as ‘ideal central nervous system to an apparatus for automatic control’ (Wiener, 1948, p. 36) and, therefore, referring to the automatic control of animal and machine. The prehistory of the term can be traced back at least to Plato where kybernētēs meaning ‘steersman’ or ‘governor’ (from the Latin gubernator)—the same root as government—was used to refer governing of the city-state as an art based on the metaphor of the art of navigation or steering a ship. Thus, from the beginning the term was associated with politics and the art of government as well as with communication and organization. It is not surprising, then, that ‘cybernetics’ should be a significant theoretical term in global studies particularly with the growth of cognate terms derived from the root ‘cyber’ as a synonym for ‘virtual’ and emblematic of the global, such as ‘cyberspace’, ‘cyberculture’ and ‘cyberpunk’.

In this context cybernetics has figured in global studies as a code word for global communications and media studies. As an epistemology related to systemics and systems philosophy the term as functioned as an approach for investigating a wide range of phenomena in information and communication...

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