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What is Neo-Informatics?
  • Peter Fox
Peter Fox
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Corresponding Author:pfox@cs.rpi.edu

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The discipline of informatics, generically cast as the science and engineering of information system within a socio-technical framework, originating in the middle of last century has undergone generational adaptations as computer hardware, networks and software have evolved. Within the “eScience” era of the last two decades, discipline-specific fields of informatics have flourished, such as geoinformatics, mineral informatics and many more. In fact even in geosciences, there may be few fields of study that have not added an informatics sub-field. Over the same time, efforts at systematizing the common (or core, i.e. discipline neutral) aspects of informatics have been successful: use cases, human-centered design, iterative approaches, information models and more are some of the key elements. However new pressures are being placed on functional and non-functional requirements of information systems: with the now somewhat routine underlying data that are high dimensional, heterogeneous, sparse and with uncertain quality. However, demands have arisen from renewed attention to hub/ server/ cloud-based provision of the application of machine learning, neural networks and artificial intelligence in general. Those methods as implemented in software libraries producing results to be assessed and interpreted (often leading to decisions made) by “humans-in-the-loop”. Informatics, revisited is a possible answer. This presentation features some history of informatics, recent disruptions that need to be addressed, and offers ideas for new directions, with the goal of advancing geoscience in general.