Big Data: Is It Straight Out Of Sci-Fi?

Big Data Compromising Creativity?

Phil Pinn over at Forbes has drawn up comparisons with the Big Data movement and the ideas of famed sci-fi author Isaac Asimov. Pinn speaks of how similar the concept of Big Data is to what is referred to as ‘psychohistory’, and invention used in Asimov’s 1951 book Foundation as well as the subsequent books in the trilogy that was started by Foundation.

Blocking Innovation?

The concept of psychohistory involves vast swathes of “sociological, psychological, economical and historical data” being brought together. The data is used in the books to predict the future actions of vast scores of people. Apparently in the Foundation story, this used to change future events, shortening the length of time in a new dark time from a thousand years to just a hundred. Pinn argues that Big Data is being used not to simply make marketing decisions more efficient and reliable but to justify future decisions that may or may not be right for the world or the people in it. He also suspects that Big Data might come to prevent innovative ideas progressing if Big Data doesn’t look fondly upon them.

Courageous Creativity

For example, Pinn fears that innovative, creative and daring advertising ideas may be blocked because of the decisions that are made by Big Data on behalf of humans. He says that those behind creative ideas must be courageous enough to push through with them even when research that has been put together through Big Data leads to alternative ideas. He argues that Big Data may be open to the wrong interpretations being made, and even says that no matter how much data is given, the bigger picture may still not be formed through it. All of this apparently means that a reliable human brain will always have the edge over the findings of Big Data as long as a balance is struck.


Joao Beirao


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