How to (Re)Use Big Data

Publié le 21 février 2018, par Thérèse Hameau

Abstract

Big data bring great opportunities for both understanding the complex world we live in and making our lives better – but they are also ripe for misuse. In many areas of science increasingly powerful technologies allow researchers to generate a whole lot of data, which are then disseminated via digital databases. Having heaps of data available online sounds great, but it raises real problems. How are we to explore and make sense of this enormous quantity of data ? Philosophers have had a lot to say about how we can make robust inferences by triangulating between multiple lines of evidence, and how we handle data in order to yield meaningful and reliable knowledge. I will draw on this literature to examine the conditions under which big data should be aggregated and interpreted. I then discuss the ways in which big data misuse could significantly damage the credibility and trustworthiness of scientific research as a whole.

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