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Crystal Ball and Magic Wand - the Dangerous Promise of Big Data (Chapter 3 of Digital Society)

Digital Society, Forthcoming

24 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2014  

Dirk Helbing

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS)

Date Written: September 28, 2014

Abstract

Every activity in the world now leaves ever more digital traces. What if a "wise king" or "benevolent dictator" had real-time access to all the data in the world? Could he take perfect decisions to benefit society? Could he predict the future? Could he control the further development of the world? What would be the limits and side effects of such an approach? Or is the attempt to create a Crystal Ball to predict the world and a Magic Wand to control it a dangerous dream?

Keywords: digital revolution, benevolent dictator, big government, optimization, complexity, cybernetics

JEL Classification: A00

Suggested Citation

Helbing, Dirk, Crystal Ball and Magic Wand - the Dangerous Promise of Big Data (Chapter 3 of Digital Society) (September 28, 2014). Digital Society, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2502561

Dirk Helbing (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS) ( email )

ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Clausiusstrasse 50
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.coss.ethz.ch

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