Generative AI tools and their impact in Life Sciences

As artificial intelligence (AI) tools continue to emerge, everyday tasks are being transformed. Everything is being impacted, from writing articles, and emails, to creating pictures and doing searches on the internet.

However, there are complex problems that seek resolution, and in life sciences we often say “Biology and biological data are complex!”. So our main question today is: can this complexity be tackled by the the new generative AI tools?

But before we dive deep, let’s find out what generative AI tools are and what makes them so powerful, with an angle on biological applications. To address those questions and learn more, we have interviewed the expert (1). Here a transcript of our interview

- What is generative AI?

Answer: Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence systems that can generate new data based on an understanding of existing data. It is often used in the context of deep learning, where generative models are trained on large datasets and then use that training to generate new outputs, such as images, audio, or text. Some examples of generative AI models include Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), Variational Autoencoders (VAEs), and Transformer-based models such as GPT-3.

- Can you please define it in simpler terms?

A: Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new things, such as images, videos, or music, based on what it has learned from existing examples. Imagine you have a machine that has seen a lot of pictures of dogs. By using what it has learned, this machine can then generate new pictures of dogs that look different but still have the features that make them look like dogs. Generative AI is like having a creative computer program that can make new things based on what it has learned.

- What makes generative AI different from AI?

A: The main difference between generative AI and traditional AI is that the former is concerned with creating new outputs, such as images, audio, or text, while the latter is focused on performing a specific task, such as classification, regression, or clustering.

Traditional AI models are typically trained on a set of labeled examples and use that training to make predictions or decisions. Generative AI models, on the other hand, are trained to learn the underlying distribution of data, allowing them to generate new examples that are similar to the training data.

In other words, while traditional AI focuses on making predictions based on existing data, generative AI focuses on generating new data based on what it has learned from existing data. Both approaches have their own strengths and weaknesses, and they are
often used in combination to solve a wide range of problems in different domains.

The Potential of Generative AI in Life Sciences

- How can generative AI help life sciences?

A: Generative AI can help life sciences in a number of ways, including:
  1.  Drug discovery: AI models can generate new molecules with specific properties for drug development, reducing the time and cost of the discovery process.
  2. Image analysis: Generative AI can be used to generate synthetic medical images for training and validation of other AI models that assist in diagnosis and treatment planning.
  3. Personalized medicine: AI can analyze a patient’s genomic and medical data to generate personalized treatment plans.
  4. Predictive modeling: AI can generate models that can predict disease progression, drug efficacy, and toxicity based on patient data.
  5. Synthetic biology: AI models can be used to design and optimize new biological systems, such as metabolic pathways or synthetic organisms.

- Is Biological data suitable for generative AI?

A: Biological data can be suitable for generative AI, although it can present certain challenges. The complexity of biological systems and the diverse nature of biological data can make it difficult to develop generative AI models that effectively capture the underlying patterns and relationships. Additionally, biological data often contains a lot of noise and variability, which can affect the accuracy of generative AI models.

However, with advances in AI and the increasing availability of large amounts of biological data, researchers are making progress in using generative AI for biological applications. For example, generative AI models have been used to generate new protein structures, simulate the behavior of cells, and generate synthetic images of tissues and organs.

Overall, while there are challenges in using generative AI with biological data, it has the potential to play a significant role in advancing our understanding of biological systems and in developing new tools for biology and medicine.

The Potential of Generative AI in Life Sciences, digital art. done with DALL-E 2

- How can generative AI help with the analysis of large biological datasets?

A: Generative AI can help with the analysis of large biological datasets in several ways:

  • Data generation: Generative AI models can be used to generate synthetic data that can be used to augment existing datasets, increasing the amount of data available for analysis.
  • Data compression: Generative AI models can be used to compress large datasets into lower-dimensional representations that are easier to work with and analyze.
  • Data visualization: Generative AI can be used to generate visual representations of large datasets, making it easier to understand and analyze the relationships between variables.
  • Anomaly detection: Generative AI can be used to identify anomalies in large datasets, such as outlier samples or unusual patterns, which may indicate important biological phenomena.
  • Dimensionality reduction: Generative AI can be used to reduce the dimensionality of large datasets, making it easier to identify patterns and relationships that are not easily visible in high-dimensional data.

By leveraging the power of AI, researchers can gain new insights into the underlying patterns and relationships in biological data, leading to new discoveries and advances in life sciences.

- What is the economic impact do we expect AI will have in Life Sciences?

A: AI has the potential to have a significant economic impact on the life sciences. Here are a few examples of how AI can potentially impact the industry:

  • Improved drug discovery: AI has the potential to accelerate the drug discovery process by enabling researchers to analyze large datasets and make predictions about the efficacy and safety of new drugs. This can lead to faster, more cost-effective drug discovery, which can ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.
  • Personalized medicine: AI can be used to analyze patient data to develop personalized treatment plans based on individual genetics and medical histories. This can result in improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs.
  • Predictive maintenance: AI can be used to predict when medical equipment and devices are likely to fail, enabling hospitals and other healthcare organizations to proactively manage maintenance and repairs. This can result in reduced downtime and improved patient outcomes.
  • Automation of administrative tasks: AI has the potential to automate many of the manual and repetitive tasks involved in running a hospital or other healthcare organization, freeing up staff to focus on more complex and value-added tasks.
  • Improved patient outcomes: Ultimately, the use of AI in the life sciences has the potential to improve patient outcomes by enabling faster, more accurate diagnoses and treatments.

It’s important to note that AI is still in its early stages in the life sciences, and the full economic impact of AI on the industry is still uncertain. Nevertheless, the potential benefits of AI in the life sciences are significant, and there is a growing interest in the development and use of AI in the field.

A point of Interest:
Since this was my first time using this particular expert for an interview, and the interview was conducted in written form, I was curious and decided to run some of the expert’s answers through a plagiarism tool (provided by Grammarly). I wanted to share the results with you, as you may find them interesting:
  • Out of roughly 1700 original words, 90 sentences (or 5% of the text) match 9 fragments from 8 sources on the web or in academic databases.
  •  None of the matching sentences were in tandem and they were randomly distributed across the text. I consider these results very good in regards to original content.
I also ran the interview through GPT Zero, a tool that educators use to identify text that may have been written by AI tools. as expected, the tool highlighted several portions of the interview as potentially written by an AI tool. This was particularly interesting because… the expert I used for the interview was actually Chat GPT itself.

Summary and Conclusions (from interviewer point of view)

In this article, I conducted an interview with Chat GPT, an expert on generative AI. During the interview, we discussed the definitions, uses, advantages, and disadvantages of generative AI tools in the field of life sciences.

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new data based on patterns learned from existing data. In the context of life sciences, this technology can be especially useful for analyzing large and complex biological datasets. Examples of its potential uses include generating new protein structures, simulating cell behavior, and producing synthetic images. Generative AI can be applied in a number of ways in life sciences, including data generation, compression, visualization, anomaly detection, and augmentation.

However, biological datasets are often complex and diverse, which can make it challenging to develop generative AI models that effectively capture underlying patterns and relationships. Additionally, biological data often contains a lot of noise and variability, which can affect the accuracy of generative AI models.

At Probius, we believe that the best way to harness the power of these AI tools is to improve the quality of datasets. By creating better and more comprehensive datasets that more accurately represent the biological system, we can bridge the gap between biology and AI. This could ultimately revolutionize the healthcare industry and change the way medicine is practiced.
To stay up to date on how to better leverage AI tools in biology, follow us on LinkedIn. 

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