Although cancer remains an excruciatingly painful thorn in our backs, we are now on the winning side of this war. Thanks to the numerous research conducted and treatments tested over the years, the death rate from cancer is declining in over two-thirds of the world. Despite this, however, the war isn’t quite over yet.
To help us officially win this war against cancer, researchers have begun seeking aid outside of medicine – in particular, artificial intelligence (AI)! Last month, two studies from researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine were published (Jan. 9 & Jan. 27), whereby AI was used to predict what combinations of existing drugs may help treat different types of cancer.
In both studies, combinations of already existing drugs were reformulated in a way that would allow researchers to effectively figure out newer methods of treatment. As noted by Weill Cornell Medicine, “100 drugs can be used to create 5,000 two-drug combinations.” Thus, the more drugs that studied, the number of combinations begin to balloon at an uncontrollable rate. With the help of AI, however, researchers were able to successfully predict effective combinations, which were then later confirmed experimentally.
Since 1991, the cancer death rate has fallen by 25%. During most of those years, however, we didn’t have access to powerful technologies like gene-editing or artificial intelligence. These informational technologies, which are seemingly growing at an exponential rate, will help us unlock treatments and cures at a far faster rate than we’ve witnessed in these last few decades.
Five to ten years from now, research conducted by AI will likely bring about effective treatments for nearly all cancers, and possibly even a cure for some. The death rate will continue to decline as we figure out new ways of combating disease using advanced technologies. We’ll be on the cusp of a major turning point for our species, whereby a cure for all diseases will be just over the horizon.
“What we tried to achieve was a proof of principle for how we can predict successful drug combinations using AI, without the need to brute force test thousands of combinations in the lab. AI learned what makes two drugs synergistic based on a small number of combinations, then predicted new combinations that may have great potential for treating melanoma.”
– Dr. Olivier Elemento
Thirty to fifty years from now, not only will artificial intelligence help us conquer cancer, it’ll help us conquer our mortality. With the combined efforts of gene-editing, nanorobotics, and AI, aging itself will finally have a cure. All of your vital organs will be monitored 24/7 by nanobots swimming throughout your bloodstream. Disease as a whole will be effectively eliminated thanks to radical advancements in gene therapy. And by this time, AI will likely already evolved into what is known as an artificial general intelligence (AGI) – AI with a similar intelligence capacity as that of the average human.
To ensure us humans are able to keep up, instead of being left in the dust for all eternity, most will likely opt for merging with the AGI. Our minds will become connected with these intelligent systems, creating a symbiotic relationship between biology and machinery. From there, each individual will then have the ability to choose their own destiny insofar as how long they wish to live.
Photo Credit: Gwydion M. Williams/FlickrCC