Saturday, June 28, 2008

End of Scientific Method?

In Wired, a recent article "The End of Theory" popped up. I decided to check it out, but found myself too distracted to read it until I bumped into it again through a link on Digg. I'm glad I took the time. To summarize, the author describes how the new information age enables us to view exponentially large amounts of data, gathered from clusters of computers, whether they be in our homes or super-computers in laboratories. The new age of technology has seen the beginning of a literal neural network, a complex digital brain that is already a super computer. Because of the seemingly infinite amount of data, and the super-computers that help crunch the numbers, we are able to easily see correlatives. The numbers speak for themselves. Up until recently, information gathering was a slow process, but these days, we can't get enough of it. In fact, some argue there is too much data to swim through. But this vast sea of information affords us the ability to see bigger pictures, tendencies and correlations first, and theories second. For instance,

There is now a better way. Petabytes allow us to say: "Correlation is enough." We can stop looking for models. We can analyze the data without hypotheses about what it might show. We can throw the numbers into the biggest computing clusters the world has ever seen and let statistical algorithms find patterns where science cannot.

The best practical example of this is the shotgun gene sequencing by J. Craig Venter. Enabled by high-speed sequencers and supercomputers that statistically analyze the data they produce, Venter went from sequencing individual organisms to sequencing entire ecosystems. In 2003, he started sequencing much of the ocean, retracing the voyage of Captain Cook. And in 2005 he started sequencing the air. In the process, he discovered thousands of previously unknown species of bacteria and other life-forms.

Afforded this new technology, science may at last be aided by the fruits of its labor. The digital brain, the super computer may assist us in this data overflow, helping direct more appropriate causation. The author seems to go out of his way to insist the old method is now superfluous. I doubt he is correct on this one, for the sole purpose that causation helps us deepen our understanding of correlation. It's nice to see the acknowledgement of correlation though. For instance, if there is some form of psychic phenomenon, the traditional scientific answer would be: There's no way to prove it, it's probably not real. However, if we take correlation into account, we might see the numbers at least prove it is a significant phenomenon, whether it be social or truly parapsychological. 

Learning to use a "computer" of this scale may be challenging. But the opportunity is great: The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world. Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all.
I agree with Wired on this one. Correlation has the backburner too often. It may end up shining the light where science traditionally takes ages to finally illuminate. With this new and rapidly developing tool, the possibilities of science, technology and at last handling the information age will be even more fascinating. It makes me wonder: Does this open us up for a future integral age? We're beginning to see less traditional methods in science, adapting to new technological possibilities. Will data summaries, connections, underlying themes and patterns start to gain significance? I suppose we are going to have to wait and see what the future will bring.

4 comments:

Viagra Online said...

this couldn't happen, just think about it, if we as human leave this part of the scientific method behind, anything that we can prove must be real, no more speculations only facts.

Coach Factory said...

coach outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin outlet, true religion, tiffany and co jewelry, michael kors outlet online, polo ralph lauren, nike shoes, cheap oakley sunglasses, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton outlet, burberry outlet online, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, longchamp outlet online, michael kors outlet store, louis vuitton, true religion outlet, chanel handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, oakley vault, gucci handbags, nike free, louis vuitton handbags, michael kors outlet online, prada handbags, red bottom shoes, nike air max, burberry outlet online, coach outlet, ray ban outlet, christian louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet, prada outlet, kate spade outlet online, tory burch outlet, nike air max, louboutin shoes, coach outlet store online, true religion outlet, jordan shoes, longchamp handbags, coach purses

Coach Factory said...

bottega veneta, lululemon outlet, ugg soldes, wedding dresses, soccer shoes, nfl jerseys, jimmy choo shoes, hollister clothing, new balance outlet, beats headphones, uggs on sale, north face jackets, moncler, baseball bats, uggs outlet, marc jacobs outlet, asics shoes, birkin bag, canada goose outlet, giuseppe zanotti, soccer jerseys, rolex watches, mcm handbags, babyliss pro, moncler, celine handbags, timberland shoes, ugg outlet, insanity workout, ghd, north face outlet, herve leger, moncler, valentino shoes, canada goose uk, chi flat iron, ferragamo shoes, reebok outlet, canada goose outlet, p90x workout, canada goose, ugg boots, canada goose pas cher, canada goose outlet, moncler outlet, mont blanc pens, iphone 6 case, instyler ionic styler, ugg, nike air max

Coach Factory said...

nike trainers, ralph lauren pas cher, nike air force, michael kors uk, lacoste pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, burberry pas cher, roshe run, nike huarache, vans pas cher, vans outlet, converse pas cher, air max, abercrombie and fitch, nike air max, hollister, hollister, barbour, new balance pas cher, louis vuitton uk, hermes pas cher, nike roshe, chaussure louboutin, lululemon, longchamp, ray ban pas cher, guess pas cher, timberland, tn pas cher, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren, hollister, sac michael kors, abercrombie and fitch, nike free, michael kors canada, nike roshe run, longchamp, north face pas cher, mulberry, sac louis vuitton, longchamp pas cher, scarpe hogan, north face, nike free pas cher, ray ban uk, louis vuitton pas cher, louis vuitton, sac vanessa bruno, mac cosmetics

Blogging List

  • $DASH is the Tesla ($TSLA) of Cryptocurrency - Happy Anniversary Tesla Model 3 Reservation HODLERS! Today, March 31st 2017, is the one year anniversary of me and hundreds of thousands of people making a...
    3 weeks ago
  • kenodoxia - For Epicurus, there are some fears that are perfectly legitimate; so too are some desires. Epicurus offers a classification of desires into three types: ...
    11 months ago
  • The Story of Fruit - What's up with fruit? Fruit is a healthy choice and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, as well as fiber (key to weight loss because it is good for your...
    1 year ago
  • Not so Gung-Ho this time - As predicted, I totally failed at keeping with the writing. In spite of the enthusiasm and spirit of my previous entry, I let everything else get in the wa...
    2 years ago

Followers

Live Traffic