The Opportunity Exists to Accelerate Science Today. Why Isn’t It Being Used?

Original article can be found here (source): Artificial Intelligence on Medium

The Opportunity Exists to Accelerate Science Today. Why Isn’t It Being Used?

Most people think scientists have access to the AI they need — the opposite is true.

When it comes to solving today’s most important and pressing problems, we should be using the powerful tools available.

It’s well-known that artificial intelligence is a game-changing technology. Which groups of people have access to AI today?

We recently commissioned a small poll to ask people this question. Overwhelmingly, the response was “scientists,” “engineers,” and “researchers” working on problems like cancer.

It’s clear that a super majority of people believe that most scientists and researchers have access to AI.

For our respondents, as for most people, it was common sense the people working on problems like sustainable energy, clean water, or disease eradication would have access to these tools.

The reality is different:

Fig. 1: Venn diagram highlighting the overlap between scientists and data scientists.

In many industries today only 1 in 50 senior scientists have access to modern AI tools and software.¹

The small region of overlap in Fig. 1 suggests that by modernizing their toolkit scientists can be empowered to work faster, more efficiently, and to discover more.

The inability to access AI tools is not due to lack of interest from scientists. Instead, it’s because tools actually built for their use cases are few and far between.

The reality is many of the most widely-used scientific software programs today were originally written in Fortran code in the 1990s.²

In normal times the reason to upgrade tools for researchers would be to increase productivity with resulting lower overall costs. Today, the world is confronted urgently by COVID-19 and arming the majority of scientists with dramatically more powerful tools could help them turn the tide against the virus sooner.