Forget pharmacists, let computers select the best medicine for us

If a start-up created a database of things we oppose robots doing for us, I can imagine Google would pay millions to acquire them so that they can use it as a to-do list. Saying that, Luddites said the same thing about factory machinery and we look down on those people by using their name as a derogatory term for people afraid of technology. As my friend Michael wrote on my other website, Electric Deckard, we are already allowing algorithms to essentially run the world, which is surely only a small step away from being beaten by a metallic slave driver in your cubicle because you’re not entering data fast enough.

Nonetheless, when you hear about a computer picking your medicine for you, your immediate thought may be nonononono, but according to researchers from both University College London (UK) and Rutgers University (USA), acknowledging that pharmaceuticals do not affect us all in the same way and allowing computers capable of handling the massive processing demands of genomic sequencing to match up appropriate medicines to an individual is most certainly the way forward.

Presenting at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, the team demonstrated how targeting a specific HIV molecule, which has a slightly different shape in each individual, can allow an algorithm to work out the exact drug needed to inhibit that shape of molecule. It is like an incredibly complex jigsaw which takes a machine with 5,000 processing cores between 12 to 18 hours to complete for each case. If it means we can stop HIV, I’m more than happy to let computers pick the best medicine for me. At least it won’t be influenced by the stationary left behind by the last salesman to visit the practice. [Source]

Published on February 18, 2014 at 11:52 pm
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