Listen to this article How Likely Is It For AI To Cure Cancer?
When we think of artificial intelligence, the first thing that may come to mind is the idea of computers eventually taking over the world and leading to our demise. Popular movies like The Terminator and recent headlines about AI-powered chatbots may fuel our fears about the consequences of dabbling with advanced technology. However, AI also has the potential to accomplish extraordinary things and dramatically improve our lives.
The Potential of AI to Cure Cancer
A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and IBM Research is an exciting example of the potential of AI. Dr. Wendell Lim of the UCSF Cell Design Institute and Dr. Simone Bianco at IBM Almaden Research Center led their teams to use machine learning, a type of AI that allows computers to learn without direct supervision, to rearrange the amino acids in T-cells to help them fight cancer.
AI in Action
The team’s approach involves altering the receptors in a cell, which enables it “to sense the outside environment and provide the cell with instructions on how to respond to environmental conditions.” The goal is to teach the cells to identify and kill cancer cells. While similar technology has existed for a while and has proven effective to some extent, prior efforts were unable to get the cells to kill the cancer faster than it could spread, resulting in the slowing down of cancer rather than remission.
The team has created a library of almost 2,400 randomly combined commands for the cells and is systematically testing them to see which are most effective against leukemia. Rather than relying on “trial-and-error experimentation,” the AI has been able to distinguish more quickly and accurately which combinations are most effective. According to Dr. Kyle Daniels, who worked with Dr. Lim and was the lead author of the study, the end result is a “leap from understanding the science to engineering its real-life application.”
AI’s Role in Cancer Cure: The Synergy between Human Creativity and Technology
While the technology is impressive, it’s important to note that this “leap” owes as much to the humans behind the study as it does to the machines powering it. People have been using technology in various forms throughout history to facilitate our development. As long as technology remains a tool rather than a crutch, we have every reason to be excited about the possibilities it presents.
However, it can be challenging to maintain a balance between using technology to achieve progress and not becoming complacent. As humans, we have the impulse and capacity to create, which is an essential part of being made in the image of God. Every one of us may not be called to become an inventor or dedicate our lives to pushing the boundaries of science, but finding the appropriate outlet for our creative spirit is a crucial aspect of each of our unique callings.
In summary, the study by the UCSF and IBM Research team highlights the potential of AI to cure cancer. By utilizing machine learning, the researchers have developed a library of commands that can enable T-cells to more effectively detect and eliminate cancer cells. While acknowledging the importance of human creativity in this process, utilizing technology as a tool for progress presents an exciting prospect for the future of cancer treatment.