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Information 2015, 6(4), 836-847; doi:10.3390/info6040836

Datafication and the Seductive Power of Uncertainty—A Critical Exploration of Big Data Enthusiasm

Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Strohgasse 45/5, Vienna A-1030, Austria
Academic Editors: Mark Burgin and Wolfgang Hofkirchner
Received: 15 October 2015 / Revised: 19 November 2015 / Accepted: 26 November 2015 / Published: 9 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from the ISIS Summit Vienna 2015)
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Abstract

This contribution explores the fine line between overestimated expectations and underrepresented momentums of uncertainty that correlate with the prevalence of big data. Big data promises a multitude of innovative options to enhance decision-making by employing algorithmic power to gather worthy information out of large unstructured data sets. Datafication—the exploitation of raw data in many different contexts—can be seen as an attempt to tackle complexity and reduce uncertainty. Accordingly promising are the prospects for innovative applications to gain new insights and valuable knowledge in a variety of domains ranging from business strategy, security to health and medical research, etc. However, big data also entails an increase in complexity that, together with growing automation, may trigger not merely uncertain but also unintended societal events. As a new source of networking power, big data has inherent risks to create new asymmetries and transform possibilities to probabilities that can inter alia affect the autonomy of the individual. To reduce these risks, challenges ahead include improving data quality and interpretation supported by new modalities to allow for scrutiny and verifiability of big data analytics. View Full-Text
Keywords: technology assessment; uncertainty; predictability; interpretation; autonomy; power asymmetries; data pragmatism technology assessment; uncertainty; predictability; interpretation; autonomy; power asymmetries; data pragmatism
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Strauß, S. Datafication and the Seductive Power of Uncertainty—A Critical Exploration of Big Data Enthusiasm. Information 2015, 6, 836-847.

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