The availability of huge amounts of data has revolutionised many sectors of society, enabling engineers to bypass complex modelling steps, scientists to find shortcuts to new knowledge, and businesses to explore novel business models.

For all its success, this field is still very young, and in need of systematic attention. Both risks and opportunities are very significant at this stage. They can be organised into three interconnected areas, which need to be addressed in a coordinated way: methods, applications and implications.

By this we mean the interconnected needs to

  1. develop new technology to take advantage of this resource,
  2. explore the domains where this technology can make a significant impact,
  3. develop a set of cultural, legal and technical tools to reduce the risks associated with the application of these technologies to science and society.

The ThinkBIG project is about understanding, exploiting and managing the paradigm shift that is under way. It will address these three areas at the same time:

  1. developing new types of algorithms and software architectures to take full advantage of this opportunity,
  2. exploring new areas of opportunity for big-data to make an impact, with particular attention to the growing field of computational social sciences,
  3. investigating the ethical and epistemological challenges that arise from the transition towards a data-driven way of running society, business and science.