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The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete

"All models are wrong, but some are useful." So proclaimed statistician George Box 30 years ago, and he was right. But what choice did we have? Only models, from cosmological equations to theories of human behavior, seemed to be able to consistently, if imperfectly, explain the world around us. Until now. Today companies like Google, which have grown up in an era of massively abundant data, don't have to settle for wrong models. Sixty years ago, digital computers made information readable. The Petabyte Age is different because more is different. At the petabyte scale, information is not a matter of simple three- and four-dimensional taxonomy and order but of dimensionally agnostic statistics. Google's founding philosophy is that we don't know why this page is better than that one: If the statistics of incoming links say it is, that's good enough. This is a world where massive amounts of data and applied mathematics replace every other tool that might be brought to bear.

http://archive.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-07/pb_theory

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