Big data and biological knowledge
Predictability and the unpredictable. Life, evolution and behaviour
Can big data replace theoretical thinking? How should these technics be used? A critical discussion on the use of big data in biology.
Some authors assert that the analysis of huge databases could replace the scientific method. On the contrary, we argue that the best way to make these new technologies bear fruits is to frame them with theories concerning the phenomena of interest. Such theories hint to the observable that should be taken into account and the mathematical structures that may link them. In biology, we argue that the community urgently needs an overarching theory of organisms that would provide a precise framework to understand lifecycles. Among other benefits, such a theory should make explicit what we can and cannot predict in principle.
Keywords: Big Data, biological variation, cancer biology, knowledge, theory