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Old 07-05-2013, 10:08 AM
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Default The end of theory - end of science?

In the light of the recent information on data storage and processing capabilites of the NSA, there is this intersting article about sceince and theory:
The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete
It seems to me that the authors are in favour of this trend, but what they describe is basically the end of science as we know it - building a theory, testing it, deverloping an understanding of what is going on. It is replaced by processing power and statistics - correlation replaces causality as a method to gain much of what science provides to society - doing predictions and developing technologies. I feel like this is a loss as the enlightenment was about people getting interested in causality and not do something in a certain way because is was known to have a certain effect.
On the other hand this to me also seems like science is the next task that people are giving up to the machines - humans cannot understand why or how something work anymore in some of these areas like biotechnology or information technology, they just see that "it works". Humans dont understand anymore how the machines reach their predictions or create the improvements on a mechanism. I feel like this is already part of what people talk about when mentioning the "singularity", where machines are doing things "better" than humans but humans do not even understand how and why. Humans, and in this case scientists thus become more or less servants in a way to the machine - doing experiments that the machine needs to make new predictions but not gaining insight on the processes behind the data anymore. People seem to be content if "it works", without asking why and how it works. To me this feels like a step back towards empirism. You drink a herbal tea against stomach problems because it is known to work - not because you know that it stimulates the gall bladder and thus helps digestion. Of course it works and tha tis fine, but I think the ideals of the enlightenment that our society claims to hold high are undermined by that. The idea that humans want to understand the world is lost.

What are your thoughts on that?
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Old 07-07-2013, 02:34 PM
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By definition, that isn't a fact if it's not testable.
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auroraglacialis View Post
Humans, and in this case scientists thus become more or less servants in a way to the machine - doing experiments that the machine needs to make new predictions but not gaining insight on the processes behind the data anymore. People seem to be content if "it works", without asking why and how it works.
Have you ever tried writing one of these systems?
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:34 AM
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Human creativity and ingenuity are here to stay. You can't curb our curiosity, and in the future, there may be phenomena to be observed that won't fit current theories or models.
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