On the Precipice of the New Technological Revolution
The artificial intelligence revolution kicked into high gear seemingly overnight. Generative AI platforms like ChatGPT and Google Bard have dominated headlines for months as we explore the possibilities for this powerful new technology, which has potentially significant implications for nearly every industry on the planet.
One of the most promising uses for artificial intelligence is its applications in biotechnology. Doctors and scientists are leveraging AI and machine learning to devise entirely new treatment solutions for diseases and chronic conditions affecting millions around the world. AI is even changing how we interact with our very DNA, not only helping scientists and researchers build safer, more effective drugs and vaccines, but better understanding how biology works and how species evolve over time.
Although it’s still early days, there are many indications that we’re on the precipice of a technology revolution, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. AI is allowing biotechnologists to augment the very building blocks of life in service of a healthier future for humanity. We are in uncharted territory, and how this shakes out will have world-changing ramifications.
Developing New Drugs and Vaccines
Biological systems are immensely complex and contain far more data than human beings could ever possibly keep track of. And so historically, drug development has been a protracted, expensive process primarily relying on trial and error. Artificial intelligence can rapidly process this data, make informed predictions about pathways and pathogen targets, and design new drugs to combat potential health threats.
This allows pharmaceutical companies to significantly reduce the time to market for biologically derived products. Given that biological systems contain so much data, the drug development process involves a great deal of experimentation and repetition. Artificial intelligence gives researchers the power to automate many of those tasks. We saw this firsthand with the development of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, which was devised and released to the public faster than any other vaccine in history thanks in large part to AI and machine learning technology.
“We are able to control biology in ways we never have in 4 billion years,” said Michael Specter, author of Higher Animals: Vaccines, Synthetic Biology, and the Future of Life on a recent episode of Amanpour and Company.
“We’re able to make things, alter things. The COVID vaccine was basically assembled in a couple of days once it was downloaded from the internet. And those words ought to be profound – we downloaded the blueprints from the internet. When you can do that, you can do a lot of things. It means biology moves at the speed of light now.”