Situating Methods in the Magic of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

Communication Monographs, Forthcoming

30 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2017

See all articles by Madeleine Clare Elish

Madeleine Clare Elish

Data & Society Research Institute; University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Danah Boyd

Data & Society Research Institute; Microsoft Research

Date Written: September 20, 2017

Abstract

“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

Suggested Citation

Elish, Madeleine Clare and Boyd, Danah, Situating Methods in the Magic of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (September 20, 2017). Communication Monographs, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3040201

Madeleine Clare Elish (Contact Author)

Data & Society Research Institute ( email )

36 West 20th Street
New York, NY
United States

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Danah Boyd

Data & Society Research Institute ( email )

36 West 20th Street
11th Floor
New York,, NY 10011
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.datasociety.net

Microsoft Research ( email )

One Memorial Drive, 12th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://research.microsoft.com/

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