Title 2 – TOK Essay May 2017 KQ 5 : In a mutidimentional , complex dynamic world – with Big data and multiple correlations , to what extent is it possible to theorise all the generated data?



In our Multidimensional , complex and dynamic world where facts , data , Information and Observations are minted out uncountably, where Knowledge is increasingly outpacing – even the requirement of – Understanding , where we do not want to wait for Understanding to catch up with Knowing , where events are increasingly the products of Chaotic combinations and there is no room for explanation except for detailed description : Are there or can there be theories for everything?

And if it makes it easier to accept, there need not always exist human-comprehensible theories behind correlations of big data. We should get used to the idea that we’re going to know some things without understanding them. We will be able to reliably predict outcomes, but not understand exactly what drove those outcomes , through building elegant and intelligent Computer Models using trillions of bytes of Data. We can predict because we can build intricate computer models using metric tons of data without having a thoery.


And yet , Big data without a big theory to go with it loses much of its potency and usefulness, potentially generating new unintended consequences. We don’t know what kind of data we need, nor how much, or what critical questions we should be asking. The trouble is, we don’t have a unified, conceptual framework for addressing questions of complexity. We will probably never make detailed predictions of complex systems, but coarse-grained descriptions that lead to quantitative predictions for essential features are within our grasp. We won’t predict when the next financial crash will occur, but we ought to be able to assign a probability of one occurring in the next few years. The field is in the midst of a broad synthesis of scientific disciplines, helping reverse the trend toward fragmentation and specialization, and is groping toward a more unified, holistic framework for tackling society’s big questions. The future of the human enterprise may well depend on it.”