Data, searching, Google, and the way we learn and discover

Financial Review: Sure, big data is great, but so is intuition

Jean-Marc sent me this link just now. Because we had a long debate the other night over my answer to What are the biggest things that are slowing down scientific research?

Approaching the end of my Ph.d. study, I can’t help to compare the way that we learn new knowledge and discover new information nowadays with what I read about Newton or Aristotle’s time. With a bigger and bigger overall human knowledge base, it is harder for someone to become an expert in one field. Leave alone covering many fields like those polymaths and sages.

Think like a search engine.

Recently I started to notice Google’s limitation. You can certainly search any topic you are interested in and start self-teaching. But Google can hardly help you to jump out of your own box, meaning: if you have absolutely no knowledge about a subject, never heard about anything about it, you cannot Google it, because you don’t have the key word for searching. (You might be able to read about it in an article from the searching result, but that’s not a direct discovery.)

So, I have a feeling: a new era is coming. A new way for people to learn knowledge and discover information will emerge soon. Or it is already happening somewhere, but I failed to find it on Google, because I don’t know the key words.


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