Google's Data Avalanche Trumps Scientific Method

No need for theories to connect the data—data all anyone really needs
By Laila Weir,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2008 6:38 PM CDT
Google's Data Avalanche Trumps Scientific Method
J. Craig Venter is using super-speed gene sequencing to revolutionize biology.   (Getty Images)

The data avalanche Google made possible has buried the scientific method, Chris Anderson argues in Wired, begging the question, “What can science learn from Google?” We’re in the “Petabyte Age,” he argues, when massive amounts of data obviate need for models and theories—the imperfect, if useful, imaginings of data-starved scientists. The petabyte revolution that lets Google conquer advertising is transforming science, he says.

“Who knows why people do what they do?” Anderson writes. "The point is they do it, and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity.” Super-speed gene sequencing offers an example of how sheer data quantity is transforming science, as a biologist discovers thousands of new species—not by seeing or understanding them, but by identifying statistical blips. (More scientific research stories.)

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