October 1, 2019
Amber Geurts, Aalto University

From margins to mainstream: Big data, AI and the future of materials science

Data-driven materials research as an emerging field of science and business

In today’s society, technological developments are introduced at an increasingly high pace.
In this paper, we look at the future of emerging technologies as a sociological phenomenon in its own right by interrogating the ascendancy of and changes in the expectations and discourses that make certain technological futures more likely than others.

We conduct our study in the emerging field of data-driven materials science, wherein digitalization, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) have enabled a scientific paradigm change. What sets our study apart is its real-time, ongoing focus, exploring an emerging field of science and business still in development.

We base our study on a combination of archival data, interview data and ethnographic research conducted in key scientific dry-labs worldwide (US, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Denmark). The unprecedented opportunities to advance the materials frontier stimulates attention to boundary work in these scientific settings, making them particularly interesting to study how actors engage in efforts to negotiate community boundaries and membership under radical technological change.

By doing so we address how emerging technologies of our digital age influence knowledge work and professional roles and boundaries in one specific setting (dry labs) and how members of these dry labs make sense of the changing organizational settings and (re-) negotiate socialization processes to create meanings and field boundaries.


For more information, please contact us.


About Amber Geurts

Dr. Amber Geurts is Researcher of Technology & Innovation at TNO, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research. She is also a visiting research fellow at Aalto University, School of Business and School of Science. Her research focuses on how new technologies and industries emerge and develop. Her research has been awarded several grants, and has been published in various outlets including Advanced Science, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, and the Journal of Economic Issues. Amber completed her PhD in Innovation Management at the School of Economics & Business of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Her PhD research has won the 2018 ISPIM Innovation Management Best Dissertation Award.