Let me start by saying I am not a trained scientist by any means, my specialty is more philosophy. But during my ventures into science and skepticism, I have gone into what we generally refer to as the Demarcation Criteria. I think we all know that it is important to distinguish between science and pseudo-science, and note that not every methodology or means of finding truth is science. Investigative reporting is not necessarily science. Philosophy is not science. History is not necessarily science. More scientific approaches to these subjects can be taken, but by and large they are not by themselves science.
The Demarcation problem is far from solved, and science itself tends to encompass several fields which may initially seem to have very little in common with respect to approaches taken by their practitioners. An Astrophysicist working with computer models can seem very different then a Zoologist working out on the African-Savannah, but these groups still seem to have some overlapping traits which make them more or less scientists practicing science. These features seem to be:
- Heavy emphasis on observation
- Hypothesis testing
- Peer review
Various "Gold Standards" of commonly accepted traits. This is of course very general and vague, as the Demarcation Problem is far from solved: https://plato.stanfo...science/#UniDiv
However, it is important to have some standards regarding what we consider science, if only but to, distinguish it from pseudo-science.
I would also like to note that science itself evolved from various proto-scientific methodologies, namely natural history and natural philosophy:
This was preceded by several evolutions, a key example of which is Francis Bacon's "Novus Organum" or New Method, which was by and large, an argument for use of inductive methods, in a day and age when inductive logic was seen as inferior to deductive and formal logic, which was, in the Medieval and Scholastic mind, seen as far more certain.
In fact the word 'scientist' was coined rather recently (from a historical perspective) in 1833: https://askdrunivers...e-word-science/
So when did scientists stop being natural philosophers, and what exactly is the difference between a natural philosopher and a scientist? This question is important, because it is at the crux of the philosophical discovery I propose, which in Asimovian tradition, I humbly claim to have discovered by myself and which may be important.
And that is, I believe we are at the cusp of new methodologies, made possible by technological advances, which will be to science, what science is to natural philosophy. For lack of a better term, I call these 'Post-Scientific Methodologies".
What are these exactly? Well, much like Karl Popper, I do not put much stock in winning or losing arguments by "definition", and when it comes to very new phenomenon, definition by its very nature may be lacking. I am more going into this subject based on observations and examples of what I consider to be Post-Scientific Methods. To give a very vague and general description however, I would say they are technologically advanced methods of uncovering truth and knowledge that do not appear much like what we would call science. They may not be dependent on observations, may not be peer reviewed (in some cases, they cannot be peer reviewed at all with respect to say AI discoveries0 and do not involve hypothesis testing. Yet they still work.
So some examples:
Basically scientists, in frustration after trying for decades to try and uncover various features of the AIDS retrovirus decided to take a Hail Mary and toss out the question as a video game. The gamers solved in 10 days what trained scientists could not solve in years. Is this science? Well I would be hard pressed to say playing video games is the same as conducting science, even if it leads to scientific discoveries. I mean, if we can count that as science, and I say, figure something out about the objective world by reading a book, or playing a story-based video-game, then we can also theoretically call reading books an act of science. That sounds a little too vague to me however, as if such is the case, we are basically calling ALL methods which discover objective truths science no matter what, which makes it so science really then has no point of demarcation at all besides what we think is convenient.
So there goes peer review. There goes hypothesis testing. And there goes a lot of other features which we generally associate with scientists doing science.
The heading of the article from "NewScientist" speaks for itself. A bunch of AIs mined scientific literature, and made several discoveries, pretty much just by reading and inferring.
"IN MAY last year, a supercomputer in San Jose, California, read 100,000 research papers in 2 hours. It found completely new biology hidden in the data. Called KnIT, the computer is one of a handful of systems pushing back the frontiers of knowledge without human help."
So now we have to ask ourselves, if I read a bunch of books or articles, and by such reading deduce various truths about the objective world, does my reading and deduction now count as science?
This, I believe is the tip of the ice-berg. Call it what you will "Auto-Science" or "Virtual-Science" or even something else completely. However, I believe we are on the cusp of a wholly series of new methodologies, that once more fully developed, could perhaps make science as we currently understand it obsolete. AIs working with VR systems, Augmented cyber-minds working via networks, etc. Should these things be considered science, or are they qualitatively distinct methods just like we consider science distinct from natural philosophy? Will they perhaps be so much more efficient, science as we know it, seems as outdated and obsolete to future generations as natural philosophy is to us?