Swiss STS meeting: Collecting, Organizing, Trading Big Data

STS-CH, the Swiss Association for the Studies of Science, Technology and Society is organizing a meeting to discuss about big data:

Collecting, Organizing, Trading Big Data
University of Lausanne, 20-22 February 2014

The meeting will analyze the effects of big data in human and life sciences as well as in the development of new technologies from a historical, ethnographical and critical perspective. Experts with various backgrounds will address the impact, application, promises and controversies related to them.

The Meeting is devoted to the subject of big data, of scientific projects based on the production, management and analysis of very large quantities of data. Creating biobanks, statistical processing of behavior and ways of life of large cohorts, computerized modeling of cerebral functioning or human genome sequencing are research practices that a priori seem to bear witness to new ways of doing science. They raise novel questions as to their impact and the concrete applications they promise both in social and sanitary politics as well as in the development of new technologies. This meeting attempts to scrutinize the notion of big and its effects (conceptual, rhetoric and practical) in the human and life sciences through two lines of thought: Does the processing of large quantities of data give way to more reliable, useful, efficient, convincing and implementable explanations or does it generate new problems? How do the fabrication modes and tools of big data differ from the ones employed in the production of atlases, encyclopedias, censuses or other collections of information in the 19th and 20th centuries?