Welcome to the
 Smoky Mountains SMCDC
Trustworthy AI for Science Essay Contest

 Register by June 24

Oak Ridge National Laboratory seeks participants for a new Trustworthy AI for Science Essay Contest; finalists and winners will be recognized and invited to present at the Smoky Mountains Computational Sciences and Engineering Conference (SMC) 2024 September 16-19, 2024 at the Marriott in Downtown Knoxville. This contest urges participants to contemplate guidance and considerations involved in constructing safe, trustworthy, and energy efficient AI systems for scientific purposes. It is brought to you by the organizers of the Smoky Mountain Data Challenge, which seeks to encourage researchers to explore the many different relationships between discovery and data.


“AI is completely changing the way that we do science. It’s transformative, but it is important to evaluate and develop these models in a much more systematic, rigorous, and responsible way that maximizes the potential while minimizing the risks. We challenge you to explore a future where artificial general intelligence, machine learning, and high-performance computing play a critical role in advancing the frontiers of science, engineering, and national security.” 

            ~Prasanna Balaprakash, Director Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s AI Initiative


To realize such a future, researchers require well-considered frameworks encompassing both scientific rigor and ethics to govern the use of AI for scientific purposes. We hope that interdisciplinary teams will form to deliberate and write about this topic. We encourage submissions about questions of ethics and the use of AI for science and what these AI frameworks should consider and how they might operate. (Teams should allow themselves creative forays: poetry, thought experiments, dimension reduction analysis are all ok!)

We invite teams to submit thought-provoking responses to one of the following challenges in a 2000-word essay. Teams may consist of up to four members, and participation from diverse technical and humanistic viewpoints is strongly encouraged. Qualifying finalists will be invited to submit a final draft of their work to be published in our DOI collection for the conference.

 The top-scoring finalists for each challenge will be invited to present their work in a 15-minute TED-style talk the Smoky Mountains Computational Sciences and Engineering Conference (SMC) 2024 on September 17, 2024, at the Marriott in Downtown Knoxville, TN. They are welcome to stay for the whole conference, which runs through September 19. The conference provides invited attendees with the opportunity to learn about advanced technologies and integrated research infrastructures for experiments, machine learning/AI, and modeling and simulation occurring at the national laboratories, as well as the chance to network with researchers and potential employers. We will waive the conference fee for attending finalists and provide all conference meals for them. However, we regret that we cannot provide travel or lodging funding assistance. If a finalist cannot travel, we will work with them to find a means to present their work remotely or via a local mentor.

This year’s three Essay Challenges are: 

Essay Challenge 1: Trustworthy AI for Biomedical Science 

Essay Challenge 2: Trustworthy AI for Geographical Information Science 

Essay Challenge 3: Trustworthy AI for Climate Science 

Note: If you have a timely Trustworthy AI for Science topic that you want to write about that is not related to these three focus areas, please email the organizers at smc-datachallenge@ornl.gov and we will determine if you may enter with it.  

To Participate:

    • Register your team on our website by June 24th, midnight (anywhere on Earth).
    • By midnight on July 8th, submit a comprehensive abstract through our registration system. This abstract should specify the challenge you aim to tackle, highlight the AI-associated dataset(s) or AI Process(es) you intend to focus on, and outline your initial approach within 1000 words. This initial draft will serve as the basis for selecting finalists who will advance to the next stage.
    • In the final round, selected teams will expand their abstracts into 2000-word essays, due by Thursday, August 15, 2024.
    • Each selected team will be invited to send one representative to present their essay in a 15-minute TED-style talk at SMC24. The registration for the conference will be waved for that speaker and they may attend the whole conference.
    •  The best paper(s) will be honored after the talks. The Best Essay will be featured in the Smoky Mountains Computational Science and Engineering Conference report. 
    • Since we are encouraging creative formats, we do not have a required template outside the sections and length suggested above, but if you are looking for template to follow, we suggest the Springer Data challenges templates.

Selected essay’s will be given a DOI.

All participants must obtain an ORNL conference access approval to participate in the conference for this competition. Respond promptly to all ORNL access invitations and emails from the organizers to avoid potential delay.



Important Dates 

Monday, June 24, 2024 Registration closes
Monday, July 8, 2024Long Abstracts Due  
Tuesday, July 23, 2024Notifications of Acceptance
Friday, July 26, 2024Entry PAS due for Accepted Speakers
Thursday, August 15, 2024Final Drafts due of Accepted papers 
Monday, September 16, 2024SMC2024 Welcome Reception 
Tuesday, September 17, 2024Trustworthy AI for Science Talks at SMC24