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The problem with our data obsession (technologyreview.com)
31 points by zw123456 1695 days ago | hide | past | web | 10 comments | favorite



"Campaign donation databases, for example, could be designed so that records cannot be sucked out of them en masse."

No, they really can't. What Morozov is asking for, in essence, is effective DRM.


The problem seems to be coming to conclusions that the data doesn't back up, or having emotional reactions to that data that aren't helpful.

The solution proposed here is "Don't have data". Because if we stick our heads in a hole, it'll all get better?

This is obviously nonsense.


"The solution proposed here is "Don't have data". Because if we stick our heads in a hole, it'll all get better?"

I don't think this is the solution Morozov is proposing. He's just saying that collecting and distributing more data will not necessarily be beneficial because data interpretation is subjective and data collection may be biased.


So who governs what is the correct application and interpretation of data?

I hate to be overly dramatic about this, but didn't the Church worry about the Truth being perverted after Gutenberg? Didn't penny newspapers cause problems for the Founding Fathers?


"So who governs what is the correct application and interpretation of data?"

Morozov doesn't worry about the correct application of data but, from what I understood reading the link, is more worried about this:

"Morozov fears a future in which such “intuitive knowledge” about how to deploy resources is overruled by algorithms that can work only with hard data and can’t, of course, account for the data they don’t have."

It could be argued that decisions based on "intuitive knowledge" without any data are as biased as the one's based on only data.


As per your last point, his argument essentially turns into "i want to base decisions on gut feelings and assertions".

He tries to weasel word differentiate between "intuitive knowledge" (really: human based algorithms) and "algorithms", when they are all really just algorithms.

He doesn't explain at all why his algorithms are better than any a computer could use, or for that matter, why a computer couldn't implement the same algorithms that back his "intuitive knowledge".


A more charitable reading might be that the suggestion is to be more thoughtful about things involving data (rather than regulation or whatever).


And that's my problem with the OP. His argument is that obsession with data is bad. No: using data badly is bad. Having people who base political decisions on unsound, unaccountable methods is bad. Such a hypothesis is so obvious that it hardly seems worth an essay


Perhaps he meant that the people in power generally do not understand the implications of models and their limitations. e.g. when the bank's CEO doesn't know what the quants are doing and how his bank is affected by their models, and doesn't care as long as they're "making money".


Reminds me of the central reason for the InGen Incident on Isla Nublar.




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