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May 7, 2013


Friday 10th May 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)


Hervé Philippe

Département de Biochimie, Centre Robert-Cedergren, Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada



Is bio-informatics making us dumb? Phylogenomics as a case study


“Is Smart Making Us Dumb?” recently asked Evgeny Morozov in the Wall Street Journal. Although the main issue of this article is about social engineering disguised as product engineering, the author noticed that “truly smart technologies will remind us that we are not mere automatons who assist big data in asking and answering questions”. The development of high-throughput technologies in life sciences (e.g. DNA sequencing, mass spectrometry, sensor data) requires that biologists do use numerous bio-informatics tools to handle and analyse big data. Are these software “truly smart technologies”? Or more generally, can “truly smart technologies” exist? I will use phylogenetic inference as a case study, present recent results on the difficulties of using big data and conclude by some general questioning about our approach to study biodiversity.




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