Indian science through the lens of ChatGPT

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Indian science through the lens of ChatGPT

Thursday, 25 May 2023 | Biju Dharmapalan

Human observation can be biased but the observations made by AI may be impartial unless there is human interference

Despite tremendous growth made in the field of science and technology, Indian science is beset with a lot of issues at the ground level. Only if there is a pinch of passion will landmark discoveries come from our institutions. Unfortunately, most of our researchers lack that passion. Research is considered a stop-gap arrangement between marriage and employment. One main issue affecting Indian science is the plight of Indian research scholars. Scholars have been deemed equivalent to class four employees in many institutions. They are made to work like a horse in a lab, with no free time, no holidays and a meagre salary if one is not fortunate enough to get through some fellowships. Even in many labs, passionate scholars are not given respect by their supervisors and sometimes go to the extent of torturing them. In this era of artificial intelligence, where AI dominates every field of human life, I was curious to find out how AI will perceive Indian science. With this objective, I asked the most popular Chat bot, ChatGPT its perception of the issues affecting Indian science, and the bot gave the following,

Funding: One of the major issues affecting Indian science is the lack of funding. While the Indian government has increased funding for science in recent years, it is still much lower than that of other countries. This lack of funding makes it difficult for researchers to conduct high-quality research and to attract and retain talented scientists.

Infrastructure: The lack of proper infrastructure and facilities is another major issue. Many universities and research institutions in India lack basic equipment, and researchers often rely on outdated technology.

Brain Drain: There is a significant brain drain in India, as many of the best and brightest scientists and researchers leave the country for better opportunities abroad.

Education: The quality of education in India needs improvement, especially in science and technology. This is necessary to produce more competent and skilled scientists and researchers.

Bureaucracy: The bureaucracy in India can be a significant hurdle for scientists and researchers, causing delays in obtaining funding and approvals for research projects.

Political interference: There have been instances where political interference has affected scientific research in India. This can hinder the development of science and technology in the country.

Collaboration: There is a lack of collaboration between researchers and institutions in India. This makes it difficult to share resources, knowledge, and expertise, which could hinder scientific progress.

If we analyze critically, the answers provided by the bot are highly relevant. Among the various factors affecting the quality of Indian science, the poor quality of science education cited by the bot needs serious attention. One major issue in science education includes outdated syllabi, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of qualified teachers. Teachers in India often lack adequate training in science subjects.

The bot observes a significant gender disparity in science education in India, with fewer girls pursuing science subjects than boys. This gender disparity is due to societal stereotypes and a lack of female role models. Bot's response regarding the attitude of supervisors in India towards their research scholars is quite interesting. It has rightly pointed out the correct picture of our supervisors in an impartial manner.

According to the bot, the attitude of supervisors towards their research scholars can vary depending on various factors such as the supervisor's personality, work culture, institutional policies,etc. In general, supervisors in India tend to be highly respected and hold considerable authority over their research scholars. They are expected to guide and support their scholars in all aspects of their research work, including conceptualizing and designing experiments, analyzing data, and writing publications. Some supervisors may take a more hands-off approach, expecting their scholars to work independently and only providing guidance when requested. However, there have also been reports of supervisors in India exhibiting a lack of professionalism, such as being dismissive of their scholars' ideas or concerns, being inaccessible or unresponsive, and even engaging in unethical behaviour, such as taking credit for their scholars' work. Such behaviour can be detrimental to the scholars' academic progress and well-being.

Human observation can be biased, as it is an innate human quality. However, observations made by AI may be impartial unless there is human interference. Our policymakers must address these issues to build a robust scientific workforce dedicated to the nation's development.

(The writer is a science communicator and columnist)

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