Big Data, Borges e la scienza e la ripetizione. Di David Byrne
«The faith part of science—the belief that there are underlying laws and explanations—will possibly be abandoned if we adopt big data as a guide to the universe. One doesn’t need to know why the apple falls from a tree at a specific rate (the law of gravity). One only needs to see that that is what always happens, accept that fact, and log in that in such and such a situation, that is what will happen—the apple will fall. That there is a law that can be applied to predict that and to even predict how apples will fall on Mars is irrelevant—when you have infinite data you don’t need to know the why of anything.
Then you get into a situation like the Jorge Luis Borges story about the ultimate map that describes a place perfectly in every detail— a map which, of course, ends up being as big as the area it describes. We’re heading to a point where the amount of data will eventually equal the amount of stuff in the world; a one to one correspondence. Everything is being watched, mapped and analyzed—the data is hoarded, but only analyzed in a funky kind of way. Parallel processing of data sometimes produces some surprising connections when seemingly unrelated clumps of data are mashed together: the people who buy new phones immediately might be revealed, when their data are cross-referenced, to be the very same people who wear synthetic knits. A marketing opportunity is born! But what is the underlying cause of that connection? Is there even a reason? Who cares! We can now more efficiently market certain clothes to phone buyers. No one needs to know why anything happens ever again.
From Corey Doctorow (via Boing Boing)
The Chicago Police Department has ramped up the use of its “predictive analysis” system to identify people it believes are likely to commit crimes. These people, who are placed on a “heat list,” are visited by police officers who tell them that they are considered pre-criminals by CPD, and are warned that if they do commit any crimes, they are likely to be caught.
Science believes in a world where time is linear, though the laws of the universe predict that certain things will recur. Apples will fall from trees. But science doesn’t believe that the same apple will fall from the same tree more than once. One wonders if when the machines take over, will we truly see an end to science and the birth of a world that is—as the Hindu’s, Maya and many other have described it—an endless eternal loop of history playing itself out and then repeating over and over forever? Everything that happens simply a repetition of something that has happened before.»