Water science academic embraces ChatGPT for time-saving AI data analysis

A Charles Darwin University researcher says Artificial Intelligence (AI) could allow researchers more time to help solve global issues.

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

A Charles Darwin University (CDU) water expert who uses ChatGPT to analyse hydrological data says Artificial Intelligence (AI) could allow researchers to dedicate more time to the world’s most pressing problems.

In a recently published paper, Opportunities and limitations of the ChatGPT Advanced Data Analysis plugin for hydrological analyses, CDU groundwater hydrology expert Dr Dylan Irvine, alongside Dr Landon Halloran and Dr Philip Brunner from the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, explored the opportunities and limitations of using new ChatGPT capabilities to free up valuable time.

The paper explores the results of using ChatGPT to translate between coding languages, plot data, generate codes and analyse data in a hydrological science setting.

The authors found people with limited or no coding ability can conduct data assessments and analysis quickly and efficiently with ChatGPT, using the free version, or the paid version’s Advanced Data Analysis plugin.

- Advertisement -

Other benefits include ChatGPT’s ability to summarise academic reports and papers, suggest data analysis options, as well as troubleshoot and debug code, and generate, edit and test code.

But although the authors found numerous benefits, results from the error-prone ChatGPT demands users check accuracy carefully.

Despite that, Dr Irvine, who began experimenting with AI tools to analyse data, said integrating AI into his processes has become a significant asset to his work.

“Computer codes that used to take me days to write can now be written in an hour or less. Solving problems and overcoming issues is much quicker now,” Dr Irvine said.

- Advertisement -

“It used to be that if I wanted to lean a new technique, such as something in machine learning, I’d often have to spend a long time reading, and trawling the web for examples. Often there was one part that was hard to set up and without it, the entire code doesn’t work.

“Now, fixing errors or learning new approaches is much easier. I’m expanding my skillset into adjacent disciplines. I’m a groundwater researcher by training but I can now do a lot more surface water-related work.”

Dr Irvine said researchers who incorporate AI to automate low-level tasks carefully and appropriately could have a positive impact on the hydrological sciences by freeing up time to focus on complex problems common in the field.

“I’m an earth and environmental scientist. It’s amazing to get to study how the world works, and the work that we do is as important now as ever,” Dr Irvine said.

“However, we struggle to convince students to study earth science, and/or water resources. This shortage basically means that there’s more work to do than we have capacity for. Automating basic tasks using AI can free up time so that we can focus on more challenging tasks.”

- Advertisement -
Share This Article
Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]brandx.live