As algorithms and artificial intelligence infiltrate science, don't expect bots to replace researchers — but AI may guide scientists and funding agents toward the most promising unexplored territory.

There's a lot of room for improvement in the way humans are choosing scientific questions, says sociology professor James Evans, who suggested the use of algorithms for guidance in a special section of Science Magazine called "Toward a More Scientific Science."

In an ideal world, science would work like an efficient search, with researchers fanning out in all directions, a few exploring even the most unlikely terrain, and everyone reporting back — even on the areas where nothing turned up — so as to avoid redundancy. Evans, who works at the University of Chicago, has examined the less-than-ideal way real science works, and he found there's a lot of redundancy and inefficient clustering of research efforts. Why not try an algorithm to point scientists to potentially rich frontiers?