BIG data is suddenly everywhere. Everyone seems to be collecting it, analyzing it, making money from it and celebrating (or fearing) its powers. Whether we’re talking about analyzing zillions of Google search queries to predict flu outbreaks, or zillions of phone records to detect signs of terrorist activity, or zillions of airline stats to find the best time to buy plane tickets, big data is on the case. By combining the power of modern computing with the plentiful data of the digital era, it promises to solve virtually any problem — crime, public health, the evolution of grammar, the perils of dating — just by crunching the numbers. In thisprovocative article in the New York Times, Gary Marcus (professor of Psychology at NYU) and Ernest Davis(professor of computer science at NYU) provide some cautions regarding the recent enthusiasm for BIG DATA in social science research and discuss some important issues to consider when analyzing big data.
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