IBM is one of the companies most focused on quantum computing and general artificial intelligence (AI). The advances made by IBM’s Watson platform and the quantum computing team out of IBM Research are proof of that leadership.
IBM recently announced the massive Osprey, which is one of the most advanced quantum computers in the world. IBM also announced a: partnership with Algorithmiq out of Finland that is developing a quantum simulation platform focused initially on health care and materials science.
The interesting result should be a significant improvement in related drug discovery efforts that, given quantum computing’s massive performance advantage with huge datasets, should help advance new drug development while significantly lowering side effects once finished.
The same problem that has plagued these efforts in the past, including access to data, particularly from research hospitals, has not been fully mitigated. But federated and synthesized data efforts are slowly beginning to close those gaps to create the potential for that data to be available once a fully capable quantum computer can be spun up to the task.
Let’s talk about quantum computers and how they could significantly change the world and particularly health care this week.
The AI Edge in Health Care
The first time I was introduced to IBM’s Watson platform, it was focused almost exclusively on the medical industry. The MD who briefed me shared that once that old instance of Watson had been trained, he entered a series of symptoms from a woman he’d worked with for years to identify her illness. It took him around three years of focused research to identify a list of potential illnesses.
In short, even though this was a rudimentary form of Watson at the time, it changed a multi-year process into one that could arguably have been done in minutes. For many patients, it could cure an illness that might never have been diagnosed, given how much effort that diagnosis would have required.
Medical AIs require massive amounts of data to do their job, because they have to focus on the deep learning (DL) side of AI, given the high variability of both people and illnesses. Side effects, unintended adverse consequences, like addiction, and cost are all part of any effort to find an ideal medication to address a new or existing illness. Once mature and at sufficient size and scale, quantum computers will be able to deal with datasets that are far larger than we are able to realistically deal with, by using speeds that today’s conventional computers can’t touch.
This quantum capability should give IBM a significant edge in a market where these massive datasets and fast results are required and make IBM’s recent partnership with Algorithmiq critical to the successful future of the AI effort. In short, our ability to deal with a pandemic more effectively will likely be impacted by how mature this joint venture between the two companies is at that time. Once mature, it could be a medical game changer when it comes to developing better, safer, and more trustworthy medications.
Key Partnership in Health Care Market
IBM’s leadership in AI and quantum computing was highlighted both by the announcement of the powerful quantum computer and the announcement that Finland’s Algorithmiq would be partnering with IBM on drug discovery.
The combination of these two announcements showcases the very real near-term potential benefits for AI and quantum computing. Sometimes, having the right partner can lead to truly world-changing efforts. Finding a faster, better way to discover medications would go a long way to ensuring longer lives and lowering our medical expenses over time.