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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Replacing Science?

Is it the end of theory? Have we outgrown the need for precision? If we had enough things stored on the Web would it just be a matter of looking it up? Wired's Chris Anderson makes such a suggestion.

Includes one of my favorite quotes, from George Box: "All models are wrong, but some are useful". Often use it when I teach and consult.

He has some good points, and I agree that the world of knowledge is changing. The still nascent semantic web is trying to bring together theory and data. But I am not ready to abandon the beauty of a precise theory by any means.

When we applied AI in industry we hoped for a complete theory of business, what we found to work was a combination of people, (wrong)models, data and theory. That is where the solution lies for the near future. The web gives us new access to more and new kinds of data. We still need the theory. A good rebuttal to Wired from Ars Technica.

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