Philosophy and Technology 34 (1):45-63 (2020)

This paper considers the question: In what ways can artificial intelligence assist with interdisciplinary research for addressing complex societal problems and advancing the social good? Problems such as environmental protection, public health, and emerging technology governance do not fit neatly within traditional academic disciplines and therefore require an interdisciplinary approach. However, interdisciplinary research poses large cognitive challenges for human researchers that go beyond the substantial challenges of narrow disciplinary research. The challenges include epistemic divides between disciplines, the massive bodies of relevant literature, the peer review of work that integrates an eclectic mix of topics, and the transfer of interdisciplinary research insights from one problem to another. Artificial interdisciplinarity already helps with these challenges via search engines, recommendation engines, and automated content analysis. Future “strong artificial interdisciplinarity” based on human-level artificial general intelligence could excel at interdisciplinary research, but it may take a long time to develop and could pose major safety and ethical issues. Therefore, there is an important role for intermediate-term artificial interdisciplinarity systems that could make major contributions to addressing societal problems without the concerns associated with artificial general intelligence.
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1007/s13347-020-00416-5
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