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Big Data: A New Empiricism and its Epistemic and Socio-Political Consequences

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The paper investigates the rise of Big Data in contemporary society. It examines the most prominent epistemological claims made by Big Data proponents, calls attention to the potential socio-political consequences of blind data trust, and proposes a possible way forward. The paper’s main focus is on the interplay between an emerging new empiricism and an increasingly opaque algorithmic environment that challenges democratic demands for transparency and accountability. It concludes that a responsible culture of quantification requires epistemic vigilance as well as a greater awareness of the potential dangers and pitfalls of an ever more data-driven society.

Gernot Rieder is a PhD fellow at the IT University of Copenhagen and member of the research project “Epistemic Trust in Socio-Technical Epistemic Systems” at the University of Vienna. His dissertation investigates the rise of Big Data in public policy and the social, ethical, and epistemological implications of data-driven decision making. Gernot serves as an assistant editor for the journal “Big Data & Society”.

Judith Simon is Associate Professor for Philosophy of Science and Technology at the IT University of Copenhagen and PI of the research project “Epistemic Trust in Socio-Technical Epistemic Systems” at the University of Vienna. She is co-editor of the journals “Philosophy & Technology” and “Big Data & Society”. She also serves on the executive boards of the International Society for Ethics and Information Technology (inseit.net) and the International Association for Computing and Philosophy (iacap.org).

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-12153-2_4
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Correspondence to Gernot Rieder .

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Rieder, G., Simon, J. (2017). Big Data: A New Empiricism and its Epistemic and Socio-Political Consequences. In: Pietsch, W., Wernecke, J., Ott, M. (eds) Berechenbarkeit der Welt?. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-12153-2_4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-12153-2_4

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  • Publisher Name: Springer VS, Wiesbaden

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-658-12152-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-658-12153-2

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