Hackers vs. Academics: who is responsible for progress?

Daniel Lemire, Sept 13, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a pretty cynical view of academics - but having said that, it's not entirely false. "Could it be that the hacker spirit is really want is responsible for our progress?" asks Daniel Lemire. "My theory is that if you want to cure cancer or Alzheimer’s, or if you want nuclear fusion, or bases on Mars… you need the hackers." Once this is accomplished, he suggests, "academics will take the credit." I've seen enough of this first-hand. But of course there are the academics who are also hackers, who I think play a pretty important role (and I like to think I am one). And there is - to my mind - a concern that while hackers are skilled at making things, they may not be skilled at things like social policy, governance and media (though they do not have the humility to realize this).

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