Situating Methods in the Magic of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence
Communication Monographs, Forthcoming
30 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 20, 2017
“Big Data” and “artificial intelligence” have captured the public imagination and are profoundly shaping social, economic, and political spheres. Through an interrogation of the histories, perceptions, and practices that shape these technologies, we problematize the myths that animate the supposed “magic” of these systems. In the face of an increasingly widespread blind faith in data-driven technologies, we argue for grounding machine learning-based practices and untethering them from hype and fear cycles. One path forward is to develop a rich methodological framework for addressing the strengths and weaknesses of doing data analysis. Through provocatively reimagining machine learning as computational ethnography, we invite practitioners to prioritize methodological reflection and recognize that all knowledge work is situated practice.
Keywords: Methodology, Big Data, AI, Machine Learning, Epistemology, Ethnography
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