Technology has played a major role in scientific breakthroughs, and in recent years artificial intelligence is taking it a step further and raising the bar of scientific research. Are we on course of empowering AI to make scientific discoveries worthy of a Nobel Prize?
Engineering for Research (E4R) is an initiative founded by ThoughtWorks to collaborate with research organizations in understanding and solving challenges in the fields of astronomy, biology, epidemiology and robotics. We share our knowledge with the larger community through scholarly publications and creating, and contributing to open source software frameworks. ThoughtWorks E4R Symposium is our annual forum where luminaries, academicians, scientists and engineers come together to discuss the role of computer science in accelerating scientific exploration. We hosted the third edition, and the first ever virtual E4R Symposium, on October 10-11 2020.
Scientific discovery process governs how scientists and engineers discover the laws of nature, new materials, and new medicines. Traditionally, these discoveries were made by humans. Now, there is a growing community of scientists and engineers who believe machines can autonomously make discoveries in future. Dr. Ross D. King has demonstrated this possibility with his Adam and Eve Robot Scientists.
In recent years, machine learning and artificial intelligence have disrupted the computing landscape including scientific discovery. To quote Dr. Hiroaki Kitano, “AI systems can transform scientific discoveries into highly efficient practices, thereby enabling us to expand our knowledge in unprecedented ways. Such systems may out-compute all possible hypotheses and may redefine the nature of scientific intuition, hence the scientific discovery process.” He and Dr. King have joined hands with many other experts across scientific disciplines to propose the Nobel-Turing Grand Challenge 2050, where AI should earn a Nobel prize of its own. In this year's Engineering for Research (E4R) Symposium, luminaries shared their vision and insight on this theme.
2019: Science and Engineering of Complex Systems
In the second edition of ThoughtWorks E4R Symposium, we focused on the need and approaches to understand and compute complex systems. Discussions centered on how the noble missions of grand exploration and big science need engineering excellence to become a reality.