Life in the Digital Age

Speaker: Dr Sabina Leonelli # University of Exeter

18th Feb 2013

15:00 - 16:30

Seminar Room, Old Surgeons' Hall


The so-called 'data deluge', caused by the overwhelming quantity of information available to scientists through new technologies for the  production, storage and dissemination of data, keeps making headlines. Online databases and data mining tools are gaining authority as the best ways not only to disseminate data, but also to understand their  scientific significance - in other words, to transform data into knowledge. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Microsoft researchers have taken the lead in dubbing data-intensive approaches as a brand new paradigm  in the history of science. Equally unsurprising is the position of scholars in the history, philosophy and social studies of science, many of whom are taking a more cautious stand on both the novelty and the revolutionary potential of these developments. This talk examines some implications of this shift in research practices within the biological  and biomedical sciences. Are we witnessing the rise of a new  scientific epistemology, centred upon data-intensive research methods? And what opportunities and dangers are associated to it? This talk  will consider these questions from a philosophical perspective  informed by empirical studies of data curation in model organism  biology and plant science, as well as involvement in policy discussions of Open Science and 'intelligent' data dissemination.

Speaker Biography

Sabina Leonelli’s current research focuses on the philosophy, history and sociology of data-intensive science, especially the rhetorics of 'data-driven research', its relation to practices of data handling online and experimentation, and the role of digital technologies and automation in biological and biomedical research. She is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, Associate Editor of the journal ‘History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences’, and a member of the Global Young Academy.