2020 Hype

A report from Microsoft Research called 2020 Science got a lot of press this week: Nature seems to think it’s the biggest story of the year so far, and The Economist gave it three full columns. Sadly, amidst the gush about how computers are revolutionizing science, no one mentions that most scientists have no idea how reliable their programs are—in fact, most scientists don’t even know how they would figure that out [1,2]. If someone submitting a paper to Nature said, “We didn’t calibrate the equipment, we didn’t write down the settings, and we have no idea what the error bars on our graphs should be,” their work would be bounced without a second thought. Unless computational scientists decide to live up to those standards, the “revolution” that 2020 Science describes will be a long time coming.

[1] “Where’s the Real Bottleneck in Scientific Computing?”

[2] “Computational Science Demands a New Paradigm”.

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