Home Artificial Intelligence Philosophy and Data Science —Considering deeply about data What’s determinism?

Philosophy and Data Science —Considering deeply about data What’s determinism?

Philosophy and Data Science —Considering deeply about data
What’s determinism?

Part 1 : Determinism

Towards Data Science
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Data science is a really technical, in-the-weeds style of work. We are sometimes laser focused on very specific problems — which is nice. We add most of our price by combining our focused attention and our skills to unravel problems. But, I feel it’s a great practice to sometimes step back and take a look at to soak up the larger picture.

Studying philosophy is a tool that I actually have found to be quite effective in helping me think deeply about data science. As an off-the-cuff student of philosophy, I’ve observed that some fields of philosophical considering are nicely intertwined with data science. Specifically, I’ve found that metaphysics, causality and epistemology have a whole lot of theories which can be very applicable.

That is the primary installment of a multi-part series that debate various philosophical viewpoints and their implications on data and data science. I’m going to start out with the fascinating metaphysical theory of determinism.

Determinism is a philosophical theory in regards to the nature of our universe. There are multiple different nuanced versions of determinism¹, however the overarching idea is that there isn’t a randomness in our universe. Every event has a set of causes which entirely explain the event, and these causes themselves have a set of causes. The chain of causes is unbroken from the start of universe (or perhaps there isn’t a starting of universe²?).

Below is a quote from Laplace that encapsulates a deterministic viewpoint on the physical world:

“We may regard the current state of the universe because the effect of its past and the reason for its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature consists, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to evaluation, it might embrace in a single formula the movements of the best bodies of the universe and people of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing can be uncertain and the longer term identical to the past can be present before its eyes.”

Pierre-Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (1814)


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