Elif Ayiter/Flickr

Big Data leben

CAMBRIDGE – Big Data beschreibt die großen Datenmengen aus digitalen Spuren, die wir hinterlassen, wenn wir per Kreditkarte bezahlen, mit dem Handy telefonieren oder im Internet surfen. Sorgfältig und präzise verwendet, eröffnet uns die Fülle dieser Daten ungeahnte Möglichkeiten, unsere Gesellschaft zu verstehen und die Art und Weise wie wir leben und arbeiten zu verbessern. Doch was in der Theorie funktioniert, lässt sich nicht immer so einfach in die Praxis umsetzen, denn komplexe menschliche Interaktionen in der echten Welt lassen sich auch mit den ausgeklügeltsten Modellen oft nicht erfassen. Unser Umgang mit Big Data macht Experimente im großen Stil erforderlich.

So widmet sich etwa mein eigenes Labor dem Aufbau einer auf Google Maps basierenden Webseite, die die digitalen Spuren der Gesellschaft verwendet, um Armut, Kindersterblichkeit, Kriminalitätsraten, Veränderungen des BIP und andere soziale Indikatoren abzubilden. Die Kartierung dieser Indikatoren erfolgt ein Wohnviertel nach dem anderen und wird täglich aktualisiert. Dem Betrachter eröffnet sich so beispielsweise die Möglichkeit, zu sehen, wo staatliche Initiativen funktionieren und wo nicht.

Derart beeindruckende Visualisierungstools können zwar deutlich mehr Transparenz schaffen und das Wissen der Öffentlichkeit erweitern, ihr Nutzen ist aber erstaunlich begrenzt, wenn es darum geht, gesellschaftliche Probleme zu lösen. Ein Grund ist, dass derart umfangreiche Datenströme Scheinkorrelationen begünstigen.

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