Big data, little wisdom: trouble brewing? Ethical implications for the information systems discipline

David J. Pauleen*, David Rooney, Ali Intezari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The question we pose in this paper is: How can wisdom and its inherent drive for integration help information systems in the development of practices for responsibly and ethically managing and using big data, ubiquitous information and algorithmic knowledge and so make the world a better place? We use the recent financial crises to illustrate the perils of an overreliance on and misuse of data, information and predictive knowledge when global Information Systems are not wisely integrated. Our analysis shows that the global financial crisis was in part caused by a serious lack of integration of information with the larger context of social, cultural, economic and political dynamics. Integration of all the variables in a global and information hungry industry is exceptionally difficult, and so “exceptionality” of some kind is needed to make sufficient integration happen. Wisdom, we suggest, is the exceptionality needed to lead successful integration. We expect that a wisdom-based shift can lead to more organizationally effective and socially responsible Information Systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-416
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Epistemology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • algorithmic knowledge
  • analytics
  • big data
  • critical approaches
  • ethics
  • global financial crises
  • information
  • social practice wisdom
  • Wisdom


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