There is No Such Thing as Big Data

Vincent J. Del Casino Jr.
Vice President, Academic Initiatives and Student Success
Professor, School of Geography and Development
University of Arizona

This talk challenges the notion that “big data” are what people believe they are – large, singular inanimate manifestations of our proxy selves – and argues that there is no “big data” really, just millions of small bits and pieces brought together through a series of algorithmic possibilities. But, big data analytics and the robotic futures that they engender are clearly producing anxieties for everyday social life and institutions, such as the university, have to manage these anxieties as they rethink themselves in relation to big data analytics and their concomitant robotic futures. As a result, universities have to double-down on investments in a broad education by asking how big data are represented in society, how human life is being organized in relation to big data, and how an interdisciplinary future can help manage the rapid changes produced by advances in robots and robotic technologies.