STAT+: 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!

“I am very worried about the hype,” said Daphne Koller, chief executive of the machine learning drug discovery company Insitro, said during STAT’s Breakthrough West Summit in San Francisco last week. “People think (the breakthrough) is going to happen tomorrow.”

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