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With OpenAI turbulence NASA scientist argues for Open Science

The turbulence around artificial intelligence giant OpenAI shows the difficulties with combining profit and non-profit with Open AI having one non-profit research arm and one for profit subsidiary. “Open science makes research products and processes available to all fostering partnership and collaboration”, argues Chelle Gentemann, Open Science Program Scientist at NASA,  in a blog post for World Economic Forum.

To encourage open science, NASA has declared 2023 a Year of Open Science, she writes. 

While some might view this as a business risk, a number of examples show that practicing open science can deliver results for companies that embrace it.”

“When it comes to the most revolutionary scientific breakthroughs of our time — vaccines, quantum processors, artificial intelligence (AI), to name just a few — most people are probably not aware of just how many people were involved and how they built on and extended the work of others”, Gentemann writes.

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“To accelerate the pace, relevance and quality of research and development of the next technological breakthrough, whatever it may be, we should put its building blocks in the hands of as many people as possible. We can do that by embracing open science.”

In many organisations, open science is already delivering results. The Human Genome Project (HGP), for example, used open data and open-source software to map the human genome sequence, resulting in enormous economic and societal benefits. In parallel, new companies emerged using these new genomic technologies for developing pharmaceutical products, diagnostics and biologics, as well as agricultural uses.” 

“The advances in genomic sequencing from HGP are most clearly demonstrated by their use in the rapid COVID-19 response, saving millions of lives.”

“When it comes to AI, we would not be where we are without the open-source software community. Top CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg have been open in citing the critical role the open-source community has played in developing AI. Even the largest, most powerful companies recognise the power of openness and collaboration.”

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“While open science is most often associated with publicly funded scientific research, businesses can also benefit from the concept.”

Her six reasons:

  1. Get recognition. As part of a Year of Open Science, the US White House has announced an Open Science Recognition Prize, with team self-nominations due 1 December 2023.
  2. Faster, better solutions. Open science encourages knowledge-sharing and collaboration. Open data and open-source software allow for more reuse of results and a reduction in duplicative efforts. 
  3. Access the hive mind. A culture of open collaboration allows businesses to benefit from the expertise and insights of diverse external experts. This provides fresh perspectives and helps identify new research directions.
  4. Get the best of the best. Open science can make a business more attractive to top talent. People want to contribute to the greater good. 
  5. Stand out. Embracing open science can enhance a business’s reputation as a purpose-driven organization. It can build trust with stakeholders, including customers, investors and regulators, by demonstrating a commitment to sharing knowledge and contributing to the global good.
  6. Grow partnerships. Open science can facilitate collaborations between businesses and academic and research institutions and non-profit organizations, promoting partnerships that bring together experts and generate new ideas.
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