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Strategic Initiatives to Meet Complex Challenges: Our Future Direction

Data, Artificial Intelligence and Society

The benefits of ‘big data’ for our society are vast. We can measure and manage data more precisely than ever before. We can make better predictions and smarter decisions. We can target more-effective interventions shaped by data and rigour. Data are now an integral part of the infrastructure of our society.

But the power of ‘big data’ and a digital world also comes with challenges. How can we be sure the right data are reaching the right people at the right time? How do we ensure those in remote communities have equal and open access? How do we balance the benefits of new knowledge against the rights and freedoms for individuals to protect their privacy? How do we promote the sharing of data from one discipline to another for maximum impact? How do we ensure that managers are leveraging big data and analytics to practice evidence-based management? How do we provide students, researchers, and practitioners with the skills they need to traverse the big data terrain, now and well into the future? How can artificial intelligence be harnessed in key application areas related to health, manufacturing, and business?

McMaster researchers are working with enormous sets of data to improve research outcomes within and across every discipline. They’re scrutinizing individual genomes to revolutionize patient care with tailored treatments and novel therapeutic discoveries. They’re creating smart energy meters for homes and assessing energy consumption patterns, mapping changes in our brains, and studying the properties of stars. They’re improving vehicle reliability, safety, and fuel economy, redesigning rail safety processes, and working to help banks, retailers, and other companies provide more seamless customer service. They’re even attaching GPS sensors to rugby players to study game strategies and training approaches, and exploring data through art, music, and simulations.

Researchers in MacDATA, the McMaster Digital Transformation Research Centre, the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre, and the Public Economics Data Analysis Laboratory, are working to better understand how the digital revolution is impacting individuals and transforming organizations, economies, and society at large. They’re engaging with researchers across the institution, as well as with industry, government, and the community, to address these larger issues and strengthen our position as an international leader on all matters related to data and digital transformation.

Fundamental research in areas like computer science, statistics, mathematics, and computational science and engineering, underpins our work. By harnessing our collective knowledge across the campus, we will ensure all the elements are in place to drive a digital path to a more enlightened and prosperous future.