Promise, Application and Pitfalls
Edited by John Storm Pedersen and Adrian Wilkinson
Chapter 18: Big data and professionals: What we can learn from Michael Polanyi
A physician, a chemist, a social scientist and philosopher, Hungarian-born Michael Polanyi (1891–1976) is known today primarily for his original conception of tacit knowing (aka, misleadingly, ‘tacit knowledge’), which is presented here to show why working professionals cannot be replaced entirely by big data, insofar as big data is itself a variation on the familiar theme of technology. In particular, as professionals are concerned, Polanyi’s theory of knowledge can help us understand why professionals may be plausibly supplanted by automated systems with respect to specific activities, but not vis-à-vis their apt creation, operational assessment and responsible application.
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