The world has changed rapidly in the last decade, and most industries have had to change along with it. The world of science has been confined to the experts and institutions that are in charge of research and experimentation. But the changes going on in the world have made it possible for a new era of science to emerge, one where the population can take part in scientific discovery and knowledge. Here are just a few ways that science is beginning to catch up to a rapidly changing world.
Driven By Data
Almost every industry and field on earth now utilizes enormous data sets to drive decisions and make educated guesses about the future. Science is no exception to this, with data-driven research rising to the top of the heap. Using statistical analysis, scientists now have the ability to make increasingly accurate hypotheses, making it possible to do research on increasingly complex observations in shorter amounts of time.
Utilizing cloud computing, research laboratories now have access to all the available data in real-time and can collaborate with other laboratories all over the world. This ease of communication and collaboration makes it possible for research and experimentation to be done in record time, and utilizing code makes it incredibly easy for organizations like Roivant Sciences to duplicate a process that would otherwise require painstaking practice. It’s impossible to overstate the part that technology is playing in the science world, and the two are becoming more and more intertwined.
The world of science has overwhelmingly been a world of men for the majority of its formal existence, making it hard for the culture to be changed all at once. The long hours and strange schedules often expected of scientific researchers make it difficult for working families to pursue a career in science, and the culture is often exclusionary towards minorities. Although this aspect of the scientific community has not shown any enormous changes, important discussions are beginning to happen that will hopefully help push the community towards a more inclusive culture.
There’s also a growing concern about who scientific research is benefitting versus who it is actively harming. Communities in which scientific research is carried out often do not benefit from the results, while researchers utilize local resources for their own needs. Even scientists with good intentions can wind up having little to no control over their research once it has been purchased. Again, awareness and open discussion are the starting point for the scientific community to recognize issues and address them.
The term “open source” is usually used in reference to source code in software, or to literary works, that have been made open to the public for their own use. Once upon a time, it was the norm to protect your intellectual property as a privately owned thing. Now, knowledge is beginning to be seen as a public good and a human right.
For instance, many 3D print designers have made their designs open source so that any person with access to a 3D printer can use their design, for anything from remote-control toys to medical equipment. Many researchers see their work as being of more value if individuals are able to access it, rather than being sold to private corporations. The science world is only beginning to open its doors for the public to access research, but it’s hopefully a trend that will only gain more traction over time as the benefits are seen.
The growth of Artificial Intelligence has affected almost every industry, and scientific research is no exception. This makes sense – the more parts of the research process that can be automated, the more time scientists have for gathering data and publishing research. Machine learning software means that the more data is inputted and the more processes are done with the software, the more it will learn and be able to do on its own. It’s an innovation that can only become more powerful and more useful over time, making it an invaluable addition to any scientific laboratory. As the world of science takes the rest of the world into the future, it’s going to be working hard to join the future itself.
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