Last week, in conjunction with Big Data Week, we featured the best articles that speak to the power of big data.

While Big Data allows to extract insights like never before, it is also not the magic bullet in all situations. This week we feature the best articles that highlight the limitation of Big Data, and why we should exercise caution in harnessing its power:

1. “Correlation is not causation.”

Big Data: Are we making a Big Mistake? by Tim Harford, Financial Times, 2014

Supporters of big data make four claims: (1) Data analysis produces uncannily accurate results, (2) sampling techniques are obsolete because every data point can be captured, (3) observable correlation supersedes theories of causation, and (4) scientific models are obsolete because “the numbers speak for themselves”. Tim Harford argues these are simplifications at best, “absolute nonsense” at worst.

2. “Big Data gives us a false illusion of mastery.”

Connecting the Dots, Missing the Story, by Evgeny Morozov, Slate, 2013

Google doesn’t know why some sites are popular, but acting like a popular site secures a better search ranking. What if people get arrested for acting like a terrorist? Evgeny Morozov discusses problems with public institutions relying on correlation and ignoring causation. “Big Data buys us time, but it also gives us a false illusion of mastery.”

3. “No government is prepared for dislocating effects of Big Data”

Coming to an office near you, by The Economist, 2014

The Economist on how the current wave of innovation will have a massively disruptive effect on jobs, and why this time it’s different. Big data and exponential increase in processing power will allow for automation in sectors previously “resistant to tech-driven reinvention.” No government is prepared for the dislocating effects, but may help reduce it by reforming education.

 

(Image Credit: Flickr)

 


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