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Artificial intelligence: towards better, smarter and fairer physics –

The May 2021 issue of Physics World shows how physicists aren’t just using AI for research but also trying to tackle some of its inherent human biases

Physics World is a special issue on AI and physics.”>Physics World is a special issue on AI and physics.” alt=”Physics World May 2021 cover”>Physics World is a special issue on AI and physics.”>Mind and matter: the May 2021 edition of Physics World is a special issue on AI and physics.
Theory and experiment have long served as the two pillars of the scientific method and our exploration of the natural world. But since the middle of the last century, physical science has been irrevocably changed and propelled forward by the power of computing.
Indeed, our computing ability and the idea of a “thinking machine”, or artificial intelligence (AI), have grown hand-in-hand. As the May 2021 special issue of Physics World makes clear, physicists have had a big impact on building better AI, and many end up working on AI research in industry.
But AI is not purely code and algorithms. The biases that exist within our society are mirrored and sometimes amplified by these systems, which have far-reaching and significant impacts on society in turn. Along with proper governance and regulation, it’s important that physicists recognize and tackle bias in AI.
If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, you can read the whole of Physics World magazine every month via our digital apps for iOS, Android and Web browsers. Let us know what you think about the issue on Twitter, Facebook or by e-mailing us at [email protected].
For the record, here’s a run-down of what else is in the issue.

• Muon study hints at new physics – A measurement of the muon’s magnetic moment is at odds with the Standard Model – potentially hinting at new forces or particles – as Edwin Cartlidge reports
• Rooting for women in science – Arushi Borundia says that while stereotypes will always exist, more can be done to change the public’s perception of what a physicist is
• Licensing Arm – Arm Holdings’ chips power countless smart phones, tablets and TVs, but the company – a great intellectual-property success story – is facing an uncertain future. James McKenzie explains
• Combat robotics – TV robot fights are not just entertainment – they can also help turn students on to physics and engineering, as Robert P Crease finds out
• The Turing Test 2.0 –When Alan Turing devised his famous test to see if machines could think, computers were slow, primitive objects that filled entire rooms. Juanita Bawagan discovers how modern algorithms have transformed our understanding of the “Turing Test” and what it means for artificial intelligence
• Medical marvels – Irina Grigorescu, a medical physicist at King’s College London, explains how artificial intelligence can transform medical physics
• Powerful partnership – Experimental particle physicist Jessica Esquivel explores the beneficial collaboration between artificial intelligence and particle physics that is advancing both fields
• Intelligent drug discovery – Leonard Wossnig, chief executive of quantum drug-discovery company Rahko, describes the powerful capabilities of artificial intelligence and quantum computing when combined
• Fighting algorithmic bias – Physicists are increasingly developing artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to advance our understanding of the physical world but there is a rising concern about the bias in such systems and their wider impact on society at large. Julianna Photopoulos explores the issues of racial and gender bias in AI – and what physicists can do to recognize and tackle the problem
• The science in science fiction – Ian Randall reviews Science Fiction by Sherryl Vint
• Judge, jury and AI-xecutioner – Achintya Rao reviews A Citizen’s Guide to AI by John Zerilli and co-authors

Measuring methane from cows: the April 2021 issue of Physics World is now out

• Biophysics for personalized medicine – Nabiha Saklayen is co-founder and chief executive of US start-up Cellino Biotech, which uses biophysics technologies to advance personalized regenerative medicine. She talks to Julianna Photopoulos about the importance of multidisciplinarity for tackling real-world problems
• Ask me anything – Jony Hudson, AI research engineer at DeepMind, London
• More human than human – A short story by Kevlin Henney