The ability of artificial intelligence – and deep learning algorithms in particular – to recognize images has created much excitement in recent years, sparking a race to develop everything from self-driving cars to robotic assistants.
But Alán Aspuru-Guzik believes the mix of AI and chemistry could ultimately be even more important.
The former Harvard University researcher, who is joining the University of Toronto’s departments of chemistry and computer science this summer, explained to a packed auditorium at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy this week his vision of a “self-driving” laboratory, which can be used to develop new materials for applications ranging from smartphone screens to advanced battery technologies.
“I use AI to classify molecules into good or bad, and I use AI to dream [up] molecules and to control problems – to pick what is the next best experiment to do,” he said.
“In a sense we’re doing the same thing for molecular structures that people have done for pictures of animals and cats – we just believe that the molecular advances are more useful for humanity than the images.”
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