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活的大数据

美国剑桥—大数据来自我们使用信用卡、移动电话或网络后留下的数字痕迹。小心正确地使用这些数据能给我们带来前所未有的角度理解我们的社会,改善我们生活和工作的方式。但理论上有效并不意味着在现实世界中管用,在现实世界中,复杂的人际互动未必总能把握,即便你使用最现金的模型。大数据要求我们进行大规模实验。

比如,我自己的实验室正在建设基于谷歌地图的一个网站,该网站使用社会的数字痕迹勾勒贫困、婴儿死亡率、犯罪率、GDP变化和其他社会指标地图,并以社区为单位显示,每日更新。这一新功能能让访问者了解(比如)某地的政府计划是见效了还是失败了。

但是,尽管这些令人瞩目的可视化工具能够极大地增加透明度和公共知识,但在被用于解决社会问题时,它们的作用仍然非常有限。一个原因是如此丰富的数据流引起了不可靠的相关性。

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