Stories by Kaveh Waddell

AI could fix science's greatest modern time waster

An illustration of a scientist in the Middle Ages pouring liquid from one vessel into another
Razi, a Persian scientist, 10th century. Drawing: Louis Figuer's 'Vies des Savants Moyen Age,' 1867. Photo: Hulton/Getty

Ever since science became a formal discipline some five centuries ago, academic research — a fundamental driver of innovation — has, on and off, seemed broken: Scientists have cranked out too many incremental advances, fallen behind on the best research in their field and produced unreplicable work.

Driving the news: Now, some are again rethinking the process, hoping that artificial intelligence could be the long-sought highway to faster and more reliable scientific discovery.

Wanted: a killer app for quantum computing

Illustration of George Washington from a quarter looking into a microscope
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Attracted by promising advances, high-profile companies like BMW and Goldman Sachs are pouring investment money into quantum technology or hiring their own talent in a long-shot bet that the field will be big.

Quantum computing is unproven, and even if it can be made to work at the levels experts think is possible, no one knows how just it might be used in business. But, disregarding the massive uncertainties, big companies for the first time are putting down stakes, fearful of being left behind if quantum becomes the next big thing.

The AI crossroads: Dystopia vs. utopia

Photo of a man touching a robot’s nose as another man looks on
The president of Austria boops a robot on the nose. Photo: Marjian Murat/AFP via Getty Images

While researchers and business leaders barrel ahead to invent and apply artificial intelligence, a small, vocal minority has been sounding the alarm, urging the field to temper the technology’s dangers before widely deploying it.

Driving the news: In a new Pew survey of nearly 1,000 tech experts, fewer than two-thirds expect technology to make most people better off in 2030 than today. And many express a fundamental concern that AI will specifically be harmful.

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