“Big Data’s hubristic claim that it understands humanity opens the door to dangerous forms of manipulation and control” -F. Debrabander on Rationalism, Politics, and Big Data.

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

This article misconstrues the state of big data research and the claims made by its proponents. The main issue is that it conflates perception, prediction, and control with understanding. The success of modern Big-Data AI technologies has largely been based on an abandonment of attempts at understanding, focusing instead on perception/prediction/control via uninterpretable deep neural network models. This makes the article’s comparison of Big Data to Skinner’s views, summarized by “when we are fully understood, we will see that our actions are perfectly predictable, and our freedom illusory,” a false comparison: Big Data seeks only _partial_ prediction, not via understanding but rather by repudiating understanding (or at least deprioritizing it). Many of the concerns described by the article that will result from Big Data’s predictive capacity are certainly valid, but the stuff about understanding is mostly off-base imo.


This is conspiratorial type of thinking. ‘Big Data’ isn’t a homogenous group making claims about humanity, what an absolutely absurd assertion to make. People involved with data science/modeling/machine learning etc. are exactly the people who point out the problems with it, and try to downplay the hype from the general public who appeal to data (since they don’t understand it, or what the limitations are).


Uhh… is big data really making that claim? Isn’t more like… people who are analyzing data are finding themselves at the new frontier psychology from the 90s?


Let me just say I’m glad people are setting this straight in the comments. The author of this article clearly knows nothing about neural networks.


This is one of the biggest issues in the current age