DeepMind goes looking for new drugs
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DeepMind goes looking for new drugs

Alphabet-owned DeepMind, widely hailed as the world’s smartest artificial intelligence (AI) platform, is being put to a new use: drug development. This marks the latest incursion of a tech giant into the pharmaceutical world – just a week or so ago, analysts were speculating over Amazon’s move into drug retailing. DeepMind is notable, at least in the public eye, as being responsible for AlphaGo, the software that did the unthinkable by beating the world’s best human player of strategy game Go. 

Alphabet’s share price has risen by 28% so far this year

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SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

DeepMind has continued to focus on Go since its victory, and has now created AlphaGo Zero – an AI which can beat AlphaGo. This program is not just better than previous iterations, but different: it learnt to play the game without reference to humans at all. And it only needs one twelfth of the computing power of the programs it beat.

DeepMind’s CEO says that the company is using this latest AlphaGo program as the basis for algorithms designed to solve real-world problems. The first problem to which DeepMind will turn its attention is protein folding: scientists need to know how to do it if they’re going to build drugs to combat various viruses.

Supercomputers have tried and failed to solve the protein-folding problem in the past. But David Silver, the principal researcher on DeepMind’s Go project, thinks that the software proves an interesting point about advances in computing: they’re rarely about bigger data sets and more powerful machines, and often about programming. He said: “it is the novel algorithms that really matter. It is actually the algorithmic advances that lead to more progress than either computer power or data.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds Alphabet in its Global Trends Managed Fund. 


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