I’ve been writing my first real, personal, own, un-invited grant application for the last couple of days. So what else have I been thinking this week? Finnish politics and our constant lack of sunshine, but also about future of economics as a discipline, and how the big data will deliver an opportunity for almost real-time empirical economics. Job market predictions? Check job boards. Consumer outlook? Ask Amazon data.
What if in a couple of years (decades) time, we no more need to wait for years before understanding the real consequences of actions, and then fight over causalities, time frames, true impact sizes and confounders, to judge which economic actions by whom caused what kinds of reactions in what kinds of conditions? And instead of confirming or falsifying existing theories (sadly, an area where one can easily see how a discipline might end up conducting research like medical trials, studying and publishing results that suit vested interests), how about backwards engineering some new economic knowledge from large amounts of data?
The engineer in me chuckles at the idea: could economics actually become closer to natural sciences? (I challenge anyone who has studied both extensively, to prove me there is currently no room for the discipline to become significantly closer to natural sciences than they currently are.)