Big Data
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Big Data

Promise, Application and Pitfalls

Edited by John Storm Pedersen and Adrian Wilkinson

Big data and 'the package' of the digital society is de-mystified in this important book. A group of international experts frame the debates around big data and analyse its impact in different sectors in practice. They also examine whether big data and the digital society can deliver on its promises.
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Chapter 18: Big data and professionals: What we can learn from Michael Polanyi

Giorgio Baruchello


A physician, a chemist, a social scientist and philosopher, Hungarian-born Michael Polanyi (1891–1976) is known today primarily for his original conception of tacit knowing (aka, misleadingly, ‘tacit knowledge’), which is presented here to show why working professionals cannot be replaced entirely by big data, insofar as big data is itself a variation on the familiar theme of technology. In particular, as professionals are concerned, Polanyi’s theory of knowledge can help us understand why professionals may be plausibly supplanted by automated systems with respect to specific activities, but not vis-à-vis their apt creation, operational assessment and responsible application.

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