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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 Six: Algorithmic Capitalism and Educational Futures

Michael A. Peters


Chapter 6

Algorithmic Capitalism and Educational Futures

The word algorithm comes from the name of the 9th century Persian Muslim mathematician Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi. The word algorism originally referred only to the rules of performing arithmetic using Hindu-Arabic numerals but evolved via European Latin translation of Al-Khwarizmi’s name into algorithm by the 18th century. The use of the word evolved to include all definite procedures for solving problems or performing tasks.

—History of Algorithms and Algorithmics

Khwarizmi, Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Musa al- (d. ca. 850): Mathematician, astronomer, and geographer. Synthesized extant Hellenic, Sanskritic, and cuneiform traditions to develop algebra, a term derived from the title of one of his books (containing the term al-jabr, meaning “forcing” [numbers). Introduced Arabic numerals into the Latin West, based on a place-value decimal system developed from Indian sources. The word algorithm is derived from a Latin corruption of his name.

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