Quantum & AI: Accelerating Discovery to Help the World Cope

Scanning probe microscopy image of graphene, a material that was discovered serendipitously (Credit: Creative Commons)

Supercharging discovery with AI & Quantum

Enter quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Once labelled promising but distant, these technologies are now very real.

The amount of data tucked away in books, articles, patents and journals keeps surging (Credit: Creative Commons)
Quantum computers should help us simulate molecules much better than classical computers (Credit: IBM)

Wonder — Search— Find — Wonder

Imagine we want to create a new plastic with specific properties: extremely flexible but also lightweight and able to fall apart into its original monomers for recycling purposes. Having outlined these desired properties — having created a hypothesis — the next step is to use AI to sift through the past knowledge on polymer manufacturing to see all the previous research, patents, and fabrication attempts. The AI would identify knowledge gaps and create predictive, so-called generative models of a possible molecule for this new polymer. More and more companies are starting to apply generative models already, to a degree, and they are getting ever better. Relying on a desired physical or chemical property of a non-existent material, machines generate the chemical composition and structure of candidate molecules — based solely on data and large numbers of examples of past chemical reactions.

Accelerating drug and therapy discovery

Healthcare needs a boost. We need better and faster ways to discover new drugs to combat pandemics like the one triggered by the devastating infectious disease COVID-19. We need to continue to develop truly personalized medicine, create better prosthetics, more efficient bioprinting of organs, and vaccines to protect us from deadly viruses.

The world desperately needs new drugs, which are tricky to design (Credit: Creative Commons)

We all gotta eat, right?

Another challenge the Accelerated Discovery workflow could help address is food security — by solving the decades-long nitrogen fixation problem.

Fertilizers are crucial to increase crop yields (Credit: Creative Commons)

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