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Monterey Data Conference 2022: Ideas and Opportunities for Transforming Science with AI

September 19, 2022

By Keri Troutman

This year’s Monterey Data Conference, organized by a group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientists and hosted by the Association for High Speed Computing, brought together researchers and representatives from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national labs, academia, and industry for a robust program designed around the theme of transforming science with artificial intelligence (AI).

Through presentations, panels, and networking events, participants came away from the three-day event with new inspiration, new connections, and a new understanding of how AI is being used in a wide array of scientific areas.

“Our goal was to bring together people in the DOE lab space, including a good representation of leaders in high-level positions as well as scientists on the ground doing hands-on research and a relevant contingent of industry representatives,” said Steve Farrell, a machine learning engineer in the Data and Analytics Services group at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) and lead organizer of the conference.

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Jonathan Carter, Associate Lab Director for Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab, gives opening remarks at the 2022 Monterey Data Conference.

“It was very exciting to see colleagues in person again and discuss new collaborations—the conference program was very strong, and the discussions in hallways and networking events were valuable,” said NERSC Division Director Sudip Dosanjh. “Data and AI are very important topics for the DOE labs, and this conference brought together scientists, computer scientists, and computer companies to discuss how to tackle new scientific challenges.”

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the invitation-only event hosted about 100 participants at a venue overlooking California’s Monterey Bay. The program featured invited talks and panel discussions on scalable and productive computing systems for AI; interpretable, robust, science-informed AI methods; novel scientific AI applications; AI for self-driving scientific facilities; data management for scientific AI; and computing and AI in extreme conditions.

“The sessions were really good. I was so impressed with the quality of all the speakers in all of the panels,” said Farrell. “We had a lot of people talking about pretty advanced state-of-the-art issues in AI applications and methods.”

Climate science applications for AI, using AI for HPC simulation workloads, and a panel on diversity, equity, and inclusion were featured all in the first day of the event. The conference’s keynote speaker, Pamela Isom, DOE Director of the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office (AITO), spoke about the need for governance in AI.

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A panel session on autonomous discovery and self-driving science was one of many highlights during MDC2022.

Throughout the conference, speakers and topics represented a diverse array of AI applications, from space exploration to self-driving technology to food systems management. Benchmarking in AI was a popular topic as well, and one that Farrell especially appreciated, given his own research focus. Slides from many of the conference presentations are available online and provide a sense of the opportunities and challenges of adopting AI across multiple scientific disciplines.

“After having to postpone this type of in-person event for a couple of years due to the pandemic, it was great just to be able to network with others and have those opportunities to meet with everyone, hear more about their work, and form collaborations,” said Farrell. “The plan is to make this an annual event.”

NERSC is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

About NERSC and Berkeley Lab
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility that serves as the primary high performance computing center for scientific research sponsored by the Office of Science. Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NERSC serves almost 10,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities researching a wide range of problems in climate, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry, computational biology, and other disciplines. Berkeley Lab is a DOE national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. »Learn more about computing sciences at Berkeley Lab.