Technology has always been a catalyst of discovery. But while instruments were once seen as mere tools at the service of ideas, they have recently become symbols of prestige. But having “the largest telescope” or “the fastest computer” brings the risk of giving machines too much credit. The growing number of projects aiming to map or catalog everything, from genes to stars, shows how traditional hypothesis-based research is being left behind in hopes that data mining will be enough to generate knowledge. And while instruments do expand human perception – astronomy would suffer without telescopes – the most important ingredient for research is imagination.