4 January 2013

Big Data, healthcare, and the human lens

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Now and then somebody writes something that you don’t only wholeheartedly agree with, but that is so deliciously written that it’s a pure joy to read.

Ian Eslick, a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Laboratory and co-founder of Compass Labs blogs about health and “big data”. In this post he floors you with intensely well crafted statements as “We can only meet the challenge of other’s humanity through the lens of our own” or “There is no god in the machine, only pieces of a puzzle complex beyond our mathematics and the mind of any one of us.”

His main argument is this “Underlying much of the Big Data hype is an implicit, and dangerous belief that “feeding big data to algorithms will yield superior and actionable insight.” It ignores the subtle issues of context that dictates the utility of data and knowledge; the problem is that context is often uncomputable.”

To make his case he cites the 17th Century writings of Francis Bacon who described the four intellectual idols of his day which his methodology was intended to combat, and which remain surprisingly relevant today

Read and enjoy.

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