Human-machine scientific discovery

Alireza Tamaddoni-Nezhad*, David A. Bohan, Ghazal Afroozi Milani, Alan Raybould, Stephen Muggleton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Humanity is facing existential, societal challenges related to food security, ecosystem conservation, antimicrobial resistance, etc, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already playing an important role in tackling these new challenges. Most current AI approaches are limited when it comes to ‘knowledge transfer’ with humans, i.e. it is difficult to incorporate existing human knowledge and also the output knowledge is not human comprehensible. In this chapter we demonstrate how a combination of comprehensible machine learning, text-mining and domain knowledge could enhance human-machine collaboration for the purpose of automated scientific discovery where humans and computers jointly develop and evaluate scientific theories. As a case study, we describe a combination of logic-based machine learning (which included human-encoded ecological background knowledge) and text-mining from scientific publications (to verify machine-learned hypotheses) for the purpose of automated discovery of ecological interaction networks (food-webs) to detect change in agricultural ecosystems using the Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs) of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant (GMHT) crops dataset. The results included novel food-web hypotheses, some confirmed by subsequent experimental studies (e.g. DNA analysis) and published in scientific journals. These machine-leaned food-webs were also used as the basis of a recent study revealing resilience of agro-ecosystems to changes in farming management using GMHT crops.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman-Like Machine Intelligence
EditorsStephen Muggleton, Nicholas Chater
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages37
ISBN (Print)9780198862536
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021


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