Big Data Has Its Faults

Scientists from Freie Universität Involved in New EU Research Project on Processing Mass Data

â?- 120/2017 from May 15, 2017

Scientists from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin are involved in a new project being funded by the European Union to investigate the distortions of "big data" approaches in information processing. Within the framework of the Knowledge Complexity project (KPLEX), which is based at Freie Universität, researchers are investigating how the focus on "big data" ignores important questions about the information environment, which can lead to one-sided results and incorrect conclusions. The researchers hope that the findings of this study will contribute to solving this problem.

"Big data approaches initially suggest that objective conclusions can be drawn on a statistical basis if only comprehensive samples are available," explains Thomas Stodulka, who heads the project at Freie Universität. However, when collecting and evaluating such large data sets, there are many opportunities for one-sidedness or systematic errors. "These include, among other things, particular cultural features, linguistic complexity, the influence of historical bias, and inequalities," says Stodulka. The researchers from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology will use "emotions" as an example to examine how data are collected in different disciplines and to investigate how "human factors" influence the design of data sets and how disparate sources in emotion research are leveled out.

A total of four European partners are working together in the KPLEX project: Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, Data Archiving and Networked Services in the Netherlands, and the machine translation company Tilde from Latvia, in addition to Freie Universität Berlin.


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