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AISB event Bulletin Item

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: Prof. Luciano Floridi Talk on Big Data and Their Epistemological Challenge, 31 Jan, 2013, Oxford, UK

The Rhodes Social Impact Group (RSIG) is very pleased to announce that Prof. Luciano Floridi will 
be speaking at Rhodes House on Big Data and Their Epistemological Challenge @ 5pm on the 31st of 
January, 2013. If you are not a Rhodes Scholar but would like to attend, please contact Sarah Gray 
( There are limited spots, and places will be allocated on a first
come first serve basis. If you are a Rhodes Scholar, a sign up sheet will soon be made available 
and sent to your email shortly.   


It is estimated that humanity accumulated 180 exabytes of data between the invention of writing 
and 2006. Between 2006 and 2011, the total grew ten times and reached 1,600 exabytes. This figure 
is expected to grow fourfold approximately every three years. Every day, enough new data is being 
generated to fill all U.S. libraries eight times over. As a result, there is much talk about big 
data. In this presentation, I shall analyse the phenomenon, and argue that the real 
epistemological challenge posed by big data is small patterns. The valuable undercurrents in the 
ocean of data that we are accumulating are invisible to the computationally-naked eye, so more and 
better technology will help. However, because the problem with big data is small patterns, 
ultimately, the game will be won by those who know how to ask and answer questions (Plato, 
Cratylus, 390c), and hence know which data may be useful and relevant, and so worth collecting and 
curating, in order to exploit their valuable patterns.

(To see Luciano talk about Big Data and Their Problem, here is a video of him speaking at the VINT
Symposium in 2012:


Dr. Luciano Floridi (MA Laurea Rome "La Sapienza", MPhil, PhD Warw, MA Oxon, Dr. h. c. Suceava) is 
UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics at the University of Hertfordshire and Fellow of 
St Cross College, University of Oxford. His research concerns the philosophy of information and of 
information ethics. His most recent books are The Philosophy of Information (Oxford, 2011), 
Information  A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2010), and The Cambridge Handbook of Information 
and Computer Ethics (Cambridge, 2010). He is Editor in Chief of Springers Philosophy & Technology.
He has received many awards and prizes, including the Barwise Prize, the Gauss Professorship, and 
both the Covey Award and Weizenbaum Award in 2012.

To see more, check out his bio here: