Computing. Data.. Science.... Society: On Connecting The Dots


Computing. Data.. Science.... Society: On Connecting The Dots

Koumoutsakos Petros



Big data and exascale computers allude to a tremendous potential for progress in Science and Society. Indeed they are instrumental in the design of every building, for the mapping of the human genome and in raising awareness on climate change. They also assist our commute and shopping and at the same time fuel the growth of companies that can decipher patterns of our habits and personal preferences. Arguably the power of big data and exascale computers stems from their potential for pattern recognition and prediction that surpasses human capabilities for handling complexity. We often hear that machines that learn are major advances for mankind. In this talk, I wish to take a critical stand on this premise and would focus on the following: I consider that data and computers are potent tools for advancing Science across all disciplines. They are after all embedded in the fabric of humanity that strives for understanding and prediction through observations and thinking. But the bright adjectives of big and exascale may blind us from their caveats and risks. Both require the allocation of important resources such as energy and human capital. The focus on Digitaleverything may bestow to Society false impressions about Science and, even more, endanger the personality, liberty and property of its members. We must be reminded that it is the acquisition and processing of Data that defines their value. We need ethics in every form of scientific practice that involves them. Our own assumptions determine Computer outputs. Computers cannot replace archetypal forms of thinking founded on Philosophy and Mathematics.





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