1945 Science Won’t Do; What the 21st Century Demands from Science Today
Published September 21, 2022
Science in 1945 was big science at big labs, with lots of barriers — including the barriers of national borders.
The New York Academy of Sciences has a history that goes back over twice as far. But it is a 200 year old institution that is not doing old fashioned science. Instead, the Academy is striving to meet the needs of the 21st century.
Academy President and CEO Nicholas Dirks spoke recently with SVP and Director of IBM Research Dario Gil about how science is changing.
The two leaders have been instrumental in the launch the International Science Reserve (ISR), a network designed to help scientists meet many of the big challenges we are facing today. It is an ambitious program to facilitate evidence-based solutions to global crises.
Nick started the conversation by asking Dario to describe what he thinks characterizes the best contemporary science.
Computer science is at the heart of many of the rapid developments we are witnessing in science, medicine, engineering, and technology. Dario and Nick discussed these achievements, as well as challenges in balancing those against threats to individual rights and the public good.
The pandemic placed many new demands on science and scientists. IBM stepped up in many important ways, including by setting up a system to provide computing resources to scientists, clinical researchers, and drug developers. Those efforts pointed to future opportunities for the sharing of computing and other resources in times of global need. In his conversation with Nick, Dario explained how this experience set the stage for the International Science Reserve.
The ISR recently completed an important milestone, its first “readiness” exercise. This featured three wildfire scenarios – a crown fire in the conifer forests of the Northwestern United States, a rapidly moving brush fire in Greece, and a slow burning peatland fire in Indonesia. The exercise demonstrated success in building an international network of scientists willing and able to contribute their skills to crisis response. The exercise also yielded important information about how to assemble resources those scientists could call upon to support their research when disaster strikes.
To learn about different ways the New York Academy of Sciences is doing things differently to best meet the needs of the 21st century, read this letter marking Nick’s second anniversary leading the organization.