De “geneesmachine”

VIRGINIA BEACH – Vorig jaar werd de Nobelprijs voor de Geneeskunde toegekend voor een ontdekking waarvan de totstandkoming 44 jaar heeft gekost en waarbij twee verschillende onderzoeksteams betrokken waren. De doorbraak belooft nieuwe soorten diagnoses en therapie, maar hoe zou het zijn als zulke inzichten door computers binnen een paar minuten in plaats van in de loop van een paar decennia zouden kunnen worden ontwikkeld? De recente verschijning van een nieuw coronavirus, dat negen mensen het leven heeft gekost in Groot-Brittannië en het Midden-Oosten, herinnert ons eraan dat nieuwe behandelingen soms snel nodig zijn.

Met andere modeleringsabstracties is het misschien mogelijk een kunstmatig intelligentie(AI)-systeem te bouwen, dat nieuwe behandelingen kan ontwerpen. Dat systeem zou verrassende, effectieve therapieën suggereren, omdat het ziekte zou begrijpen op een manier die mensen zich moeilijk kunnen voorstellen. Het idee lijkt wel science fiction: iedereen weet dat AI niet bijzonder slim is.

Om zo'n soort “geneesmachine” te bouwen, is op z'n minst één verreikende innovatie nodig: een betere manier om complete systemen te modelleren, waardoor zowel de biologie als de computerwetenschap nieuwe conceptuele instrumenten aangereikt zou krijgen.

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