How can science diplomacy support the use of AI in scientific research
AI can substantively advance scientific research and led to a golden age of discovery, according to The Economist’s coverage.
Historical examples, such as the introduction of microscopes and telescopes in the 17th century and research laboratories in the late 19th century, demonstrate how new tools can bring about world-changing advancements.
Two areas show particular promise in transforming scientific practice: “literature-based discovery” (LBD) and “self-driving labs” or robot scientists. LBD uses AI language analysis to analyze existing scientific literature and discover new hypotheses, connections, and ideas. This can stimulate interdisciplinary work and foster innovation. Self-driving labs leverage AI to generate and test hypotheses through hundreds or thousands of experiments. They can explore unconsidered avenues and develop unexpected theories without human biases.
However, the main barrier to widespread AI adoption in scientific practice is sociological. Many scientists lack the necessary skills and training, and some fear job displacement. To fully unlock AI’s potential in scientific discovery, governments and funding bodies play a crucial role. Advocating for common standards to exchange and interpret laboratory results and data and funding research on integrating AI with laboratory robotics is essential.