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Biosocial spaces and neurocomputational governance: brain-based and brain-targeted technologies in education

Williamson B, Pykett J & Nemorin S (2018) Biosocial spaces and neurocomputational governance: brain-based and brain-targeted technologies in education, Discourse, 39 (2), pp. 258-275.

Recently, technologies based on neuroscientific insights into brain function and structure have been promoted for application in education. The novel practices and environments produced by these technologies require new forms of ‘biosocial’ analysis to unpack their implications for education, learning and governance. The article provides an original analysis of current ‘brain-based’ R&D by the edu-business Pearson to apply artificial intelligence in education, and by the computing company IBM to develop cognitive systems for learning. These emerging forms of neurocomputation are examined as technologies designed to function according to neuroscientific understandings of the brain, and to impress themselves on the cerebral lives of learners by being embedded in educational spaces. To examine the technological and neurobiological means by which a learner is made up through technologically-mediated educational environments, we advance the idea of ‘brain/code/space’ as a conceptual framework. Thisdescribes environments that possess brain-like functions of learning and cognition performed by computational processes. The brain/code/spaces of education proposed by Pearson and IBM are intended to optimize human cognition as a technique of human capital development in order to enhance the performance of education systems to secure comparative advantage in a globalizing policy space, exemplifying new forms of neurocomputational governance and capital.

artificial intelligence; big data; biosocial; brain; cognitive computing; neuroscience

AuthorsWilliamson Ben, Pykett Jessica, Nemorin Selena
Publication date2018
Publication date online27/10/2017
Date accepted by journal01/06/2017
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISSN 0159-6306

Discourse: Volume 39, Issue 2

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