29.6.08

Not the Negation of Science

My love affair with Kevin Kelly continues; his recent post on the non-death of theory is definitely worth a read. Kelly responds to Chris Anderson's recent article on The Death of Theory, in which Anderson argues that massive, computational approaches to problem solving are replacing traditional, hypothesis-driven, science. Kelly laments that Anderson attempted to negate theory rather than promote an additional method for problem-solving. Here's the highlight:

My guess is that this emerging method will be one additional tool in the evolution of the scientific method. It will not replace any current methods (sorry, no end of science!) but will compliment established theory-driven science. Let's call this data intensive approach to problem solving Correlative Analytics. I think Chris squander a unique opportunity by titling his thesis "The End of Theory" because this is a negation, the absence of something. Rather it is the beginning of something, and this is when you have a chance to accelerate that birth by giving it a positive name. A non-negative name will also help clarify the thesis. I am suggesting Correlative Analytics rather than No Theory because I am not entirely sure that these correlative systems are model-free. I think there is an emergent, unconscious, implicit model embedded in the system that generates answers. If none of the English speakers working on Google's Chinese Room have a theory of Chinese, we can still think of the Room as having a theory. The model may be beyond the perception and understanding of the creators of the system, and since it works it is not worth trying to uncover it. But it may still be there. It just operates at a level we don't have access to.

Sure, I've been spending too much time lately writing on Levinas' concept of absolute alterity (d'Autrui). But I am repeatedly blown away at how often the writing of the Web 2.0 crowd echoes the sentiments of postmodern metaphysicians. Fucking awesome.

1 comment:

Tor Hershman said...

More like.....phuckin' aww sum.

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor