Instalment 1: Overview (Big Data and Social Physics)

MOOC Summaries - Big Data and Social Physics - edXInstalment 1: Overview

“Why Social Physics… A Sustainable Digital Ecology… How Social Physics Works…” 



  • Intro Video
  • Why Social Physics
  • A Sustainable Digital Ecology
  • How Social Physics Works

Intro Video

  • Social physics: quantitative science describing human behavior.
  • Begin by understanding core models for human behavior and how they can be seen in data, especially as more and more data about people are available.
  • Compare with social science, which has insights into human character, but it is usually neither quantitative nor predictive; big data means we can build predictive, quantitative models of human behavior.
  • Can determine the amount of social learning i.e. rate of idea flow, and that is important because learning from each other makes us smarter.
  • We now have the math to understand all this.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of Big Data and Social Physics

Why Social Physics

  • The core problem is we do not know how to manage ourselves or to integrate our ideas, opinions, and views into the making and implementing of decisions.
  • This is where social physics and big data can help.
  • It represents a big change as we can now observe people and predict what they will do.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of Big Data and Social Physics

A Sustainable Digital Ecology

  • The inspiration comes from things that don’t work very well e.g. schools, organizations.
  • Your digital self should have the same rights as the physical self e.g. you get to control your data, who gets access.
  • We should make the social networks mirror the way humans like to operate and how people operate best – it is not through competition but through trusted networks.
  • How can we make a digital society that works for humans i.e. fair, safe, inclusive etc.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of Big Data and Social Physics

How Social Physics Works

  • The world feels so complex and everything is happening so quickly: how can we understand and control what is happening so that we can build a better world?
  • We now have data about all sorts of things: corporations, people, purchases, entertainment etc
  • We finally have enough data to build a mathematical theory of human social life; a theory of social physics.
  • It is physics because it resembles traditional physics: in traditional physics, energy turns into motion; in social physics, it is not energy but new ideas.
Chop Chop MOOCs’ summary of Big Data and Social Physics

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