Elif Ayiter/Flickr

Données massives vivantes

CAMBRIDGE – Les données massives découlent de la trace numérique que l’on laisse derrière soi lorsque l’on utilise cartes de crédit, téléphones portables ou que l’on consulte la toile électronique. Employées judicieusement et avec précision, ces données nous donnent une perspective sans précédent pour comprendre notre société et améliorer la façon dont nous vivons et travaillons. Mais ce qui fonctionne en théorie pourrait ne pas se traduire correctement dans le monde réel, là où les interactions humaines complexes ne peuvent pas toujours être saisies, même dans les modèles les plus complexes. Les données massives nous forcent à expérimenter à très grande échelle.

Mon propre laboratoire, par exemple, est en train de créer un site Web qui, sur la base de cartes Google, utilise les pistes numériques de la société pour cartographier les taux de pauvreté, de mortalité infantile, de criminalité et les changements dans le PNB et autres indicateurs sociaux, quartier par quartier, et qui peut être actualisé quotidiennement. Cette nouvelle fonctionnalité permet aux utilisateurs d’observer, par exemple, les endroits où les initiatives gouvernementales donnent des résultats et ceux où elles sont inopérantes.

Évidemment, ces outils de visualisation si impressionnants peuvent grandement améliorer la transparence afin de mieux renseigner le public, mais ils sont remarquablement limités lorsqu’utilisés pour essayer de régler les problèmes de la société. L’une des raisons étant que ces sources de données incitent à faire des corrélations factices.

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