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  • Can AI Help with Scientific Discoveries?

Can AI Help with Scientific Discoveries?

Nov 10 2019 Read 1935 Times

In an exciting breakthrough for the science and technology sphere, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced plans to launch an initiative that will transform decommissioned supercomputers into high-performance AI machines.

The initiative is part of the department's plans to accelerate scientific discoveries, with DOE officials confirming it will request up to US$4 billion in Congress funding over the next decade. This will cover the costs of refurbishing old supercomputers into “exascale” machines capable of processing a quintillion calculations per second.

AI initiative set to boost US presence on international stage

AI experts have been quick to praise the initiative, though add that the US$4 billion budget is modest when compared to artificial intelligence investments funded by China. That said, unlike China the DOE has a huge amount of data to work with thanks to nationally operated atom smashers, universe surveys, genome sequencing laboratories and other projects. With access to such an enormous torrent of data, the machines will have the capacity to discover new patterns, materials and physics models.

“We generate almost unimaginable amounts of data, petabytes per day,” Chris Fall, director of the DOE’s Office of Science. “It’s going to impact everything we do.

According to DOE officials, the AI initiative will give US laboratories an advantage on the global stage. In the field, the ultra-advanced machines could be used to assist researchers in developing cures for cancer, predicting public health outbreaks, advancing genome sequencing and more.

Global AI funding soars by 44% in 2019

The DOE isn't the only organisation championing AI, with the latest research from market analysis firm IDC predicting global artificial intelligence funding will exceed US$35 billion in 2019. This represent a 44% leap from 2018 investments. The spike is largely fuelled by growing awareness of the commercial advantages of artificial intelligence, which range from helping oil and gas companies target lucrative drilling sites to arming banks with the technology to prevent credit card fraud.

Governments are also onboard, using AI to address traffic flow issues, improve public health and provide services to members of the public. The new American AI Initiative launched by President Donald Trump in February reflects the trend, with the administration requesting almost US$1 billion in funding to support machine learning and AI research projects.  

Eventually, AI could be used to develop treatments for brain disorders such as dementia. For a glimpse at the latest breakthroughs from Dementias Platform UK, a major public-private partnership funded by the Medical Research Council, don't miss 'Changing Dementia Horizons: DPUK Progress Outlined.'

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