AI & drug discovery: A biotech CEO, a scientist, and a venture capitalist separate hype from reality

Artificial intelligence is a rapidly improving technology. But its progress in drug development faces an increasingly urgent threat: An unending stream of overheated marketing.

To read of AI’s feats in press releases is to learn of a miracle product on the verge of unraveling biology’s most enduring secrets. It can map molecules and accurately predict how they fit together on computer screens. All you need to get to a cure — as they say in infomercials — is act now!

The reality is more plodding and uncertain, a message that Koller and two co-panelists at the STAT event — scientist and author Derek Lowe, and Vijay Pande of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz — sought to drive home by explaining AI’s many limitations in drug development.

It is true, they said, that AI is getting better and becoming more useful. But that doesn’t mean new medicines will start arriving by the truckload tomorrow. Here’s a closer look at the conversation and what the experts say must change for the technology to make a meaningful difference.







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