Monday, May 25, 2009

ONS talk at AI conference in July 2009

I've been invited to talk at the IJCAI'09 Workshop on Abductive & Inductive Knowledge Development in Pasadena on July 12, 2009. This will be a great opportunity to focus what might become possible on the machine side of Open Notebook Science.

Although Ross King (of Robot Scientist fame) won't be there in person, his collaborator Oliver Ray will be giving a talk on their project. That should be quite interesting.

My abstract:
The Role of Openness in Scientific Automation: a case for Open Notebook Science

The use of Open Notebook Science to collect and make publicly available non-aqueous solubility measurements and the synthesis of anti-malarial agents will be described. ONS involves the real time sharing of all experiments and associated raw data by a community of collaborators who are geographically distributed and may have never communicated using channels other than these shared projects. Monthly cash prizes are awarded to participating students by means of the ONS Challenge Submeta Awards for solubility measurements. The laboratory notebook pages are recorded on a public wiki and the solubility measurements, including relevant calculations, are stored in public Google Spreadsheets. A combination of ChemSpider, the GoogleDoc visualization API and web services is used to enable flexible searching and display of desired subsets of the data.

The use of such a distributed and open platform with virtually zero read/write costs for the communication of science creates new opportunities for rapid collaboration. By using a redundant information dissemination system, channels that are more human friendly can be integrated with those that are more geared to machine readability. For example a publicly editable Google Spreadsheet tied to the operation of a robotic liquid handling system opens up the possibility of integrating crowdsourced intelligence with human workflows. In another example, web services called from within a publicly editable Google Spreadsheet to perform calculations on NMR spectra can be integrated readily with manually executed steps to accelerate progress and minimize the possibility of errors.

The advantages and disadvantages of ONS and related bottom-up Open Science strategies will be discussed. The key concerns revolve around intellectual property, trust, reference-ability, publication in traditional academic vehicles and other implications for collaborations.

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