Demis Hassabis is the Founder and CEO of DeepMind, the world’s leading AI research company, and now a part of Alphabet. DeepMind has produced landmark research breakthroughs such as AlphaGo, the first program to beat the world champion at the game of Go, and AlphaFold, which was heralded as a solution to the 50-year grand challenge of protein folding.
Proteins are essential to life, supporting practically all its functions. They are large complex molecules, made up of chains of amino acids, and what a protein does largely depends on its unique 3D structure. Figuring out what shapes proteins fold into is known as the “protein folding problem”, and has stood as a grand challenge in biology for the past 50 years. In a major scientific advance, the latest version of DeepMind’s AI system AlphaFold has been recognised as a solution to this grand challenge by the organisers of the biennial Critical Assessment of protein Structure Prediction (CASP). AlphaFold has culminated in the release of the most accurate and complete picture of the human proteome, which has the potential to accelerate every field of study in biology. This breakthrough demonstrates the impact AI can have on scientific discovery and its potential to dramatically accelerate progress in some of the most fundamental fields that explain and shape our world.