Friday, March 24, 2006

New way of doing science?

Stephen Muggleton, the head of computational bio-informatics at Imperial College, London, has, meanwhile, taken the involvement of computers with data handling one step further [beyond data collection and analysis]. He argues they will soon play a role in formulating scientific hypotheses and designing and running experiments to test them. The data deluge is such that human beings can no longer be expected to spot patterns in the data. Nor can they grasp the size and complexity of one database and see how it relates to another. Computers—he dubs them “robot scientists”—can help by learning how to do the job. A couple of years ago, for example, a team led by Ross King of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, demonstrated that a learning machine performed better than humans at selecting experiments that would discriminate between hypotheses about the genetics of yeast.

From this fascinating article in the Economist about how computers and computer science may be at a tipping point in their march towards altering the very way in which science is done.