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AI for science: Insights from Asia-Pacific

In early October, the ISC Centre for Science Futures marked a pivotal moment in its most recent initiative on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Science, as 14 esteemed delegates and experts representing 12 countries, mostly from Asia-Pacific, assembled for a timely meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The event, organised with the support of the Australian Academy of Science, brought together thought leaders and experts who have a national mandate in reflecting on the implications of, and responses to AI for science. The delegates discussed and shared insights on the formulation of national approaches, priorities, identified issues and strategies in their countries.

“It was wonderful to exchange with the very people involved in preparing their national research ecosystem for AI. We had frank and honest discussions about countries’ diverse approaches and priorities, as well as the challenges and uncertainties they are facing while preparing their science institutions and funding mechanisms for AI”, said Mathieu Denis, Head of the Centre for Science Futures. 

The core themes of the discussion 

The workshop was centred around three core themes condensing the main issues correlated to the impact of AI on science. Firstly, the emphasis was on research funding, skills and infrastructure, underscoring the imperative of preparedness for and adaptiveness to the fast-changing AI technologies. This was followed by a discussion on methods and practice of science, exploring the transformative potential of AI on publishing and evaluating, the storage and curation of research data, and issues of trust in results. The third theme, policy and regulation, addressed the needs of science and the kinds of policies that would benefit science rather than limit it. 

Next steps: the project course ahead 

Building on the momentum generated by this workshop, the Centre is set to release a working paper on “Preparing Science Ecosystems for AI” early in 2024. The paper will include a literature review, and issues map, and a series of short country case studies. The hope is the paper will contribute driving discussions amongst policymakers, industry leaders, and researchers alike as they develop roadmaps towards harnessing AI’s potential for the betterment of science and research. Similar workshops are envisaged in other regions of the world after the publication of the working paper.   

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