Paper delivered during the Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences annual congress, The Legacy of A.M. Turing, Urbino September 25-27, 2012.
Authors: Lella Mazzoli, Fabio Giglietto
The cognition-computing short circuit, one of the most important legacies of Alan Turing’s work, is still affecting today both neuroscience and computer science. Starting from the proposals formulated by the British logician and mathematician, this paper underlines the rarely studied impact his ideas have had on the study of society. Social systems theories on the one hand and agent-based simulations on the other hand, have pinpointed once more the traditional sociological dualism between macro and micro-sociology. However, the advent of ‘’Big Data’ has paved the way to new techniques of investigation based on the study of new types of data, such as conversations taking place on popular web sites like Twitter and Facebook. Thanks to these techniques, we can go beyond simulation and observe the operation within the social “black box” in the same way as neuronal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) does as regards to the brain. This paper discusses the potential and limitations of these new methods of sociological investigation and their spillover effects on the theoretical development of the discipline.