In other words, we no longer need to speculate and hypothesise; we simply need to let machines lead us to the patterns, trends, and relationships in social, economic, political, and environmental relationships.
The Guardian runs an opinion story in their Datablog about how big data could end theory. I think that the reduction of big data to simple a engineering problem of how to accommodate more data, process it in real time and monitoring the services on which the analysis runs, is not really near, neither will ever come to be.
We will always need theoretical scientists, but more important, we need philosophers, The idea that these big data analysis can be automated and the results applied without further explanation is terrifying and orwellian. Science, in it’s publish or perish race to top needs to bring back some thinking to itself and big data will need some big thinking on what it is producing to really understand and explain what society his. If it ended being just a computer output we’d all be in great danger as governments would make bad decisions based on ignorance and evil corporations would game the big data analysis for profit at society expenses.
Big Data is a great field to work right now, and will revolutionize our understanding of the society we live in, but it wont go far without someone being able to interpret and analyse its outputs, even if they are the most accurate ever produced. Society is not what we made, society is what we make.