Volume 595 Issue 7866, 8 July 2021
Computational social science is a burgeoning field of research that uses analysis of huge data sets to tackle social questions. Digital devices now give real-time access to a wealth of information on our movements, purchases and social interactions online — information that offers unprecedented power to track trends, make predictions and inform decisions. In a special issue this week, Nature probes the possibilities of — and challenges faced by — this growing field. From modelling the dynamics of infectious disease to assessing potential bias in data sets, researchers face huge opportunities to answer key societal questions — as long as they can also maintain the delicate balance of ensuring the quality and privacy of the data being used.