Published in


Prediction: AI will cure Obesity in 5 years

~ AlphaFold is just the beginning ~

Photo by Olia Nayda on Unsplash

TL;DR — Artificial Intelligence continues to accelerate. AlphaFold, the protein-folding neural network, was able to find all human proteins: a feat all experts in the field believed would take supercomputers decades to solve! Now, those insights are spilling into drug-discovery that will be *tailored* to each person’s particular types of genes. That’ll take a while to hit the market, with companies targeting one set of treatments after another, in waves. Obesity will be one of the first big wins. Why? Because weight-loss alone, not considering the treatment of health problems, is already a $300 Billion market, annually! Prediction: by the end of 2027, companies will have found treatments for at least 65% of the cases of obesity. Further: cost of treatment will drop by a multiple every year (whether *prices* also drop, depends upon that country’s health policies, unfortunately…), aided by increasingly robotic pharm-labs and easy entry into the space.

Blowing-Up the Moon

When a company, cryptocurrency, or other some-such bandwagon hopes to accelerate beyond all others, like a rocket… then they “go to the Moon”. AlphaFold, the artificial intelligence that finds the molecular shape of our body’s proteins, didn’t just sail to the Moon… it didn’t even take steps and plant a flag — AlphaFold detonated the core of the problem, and left only dust in its wake. Imagine if Apple computer had *not* made billions of devices, sold for thousands of dollars apiece — instead, they made it so nobody needed devices at all, computation just happened in the air around us, for FREE? That’s AlphaFold. DeepMind, its creators, made all their work free… for a task we had thought was so monumental that it would require Tens of Billions of dollars across decades, numerous government proposals and companies. None of those expenditures or research-hours will exist. All their efforts were completed in a matter of weeks, on a few accelerators. BOOOOOOM!

This isn’t where it stops, of course. That was only their second attempt at entering the protein-competition, and as soon as DeepMind published their AlphaFold design, others were imitating it, expanding the arena of applications. It will take time for medical researchers to up-take enough machine learning to apply this firehose of insight, but you can be sure the dollar-signs will pressure that transition to happen faster than the dino-crawl mere mortals expect.

The biggest disease-targets, like those thunder-lizards, are the obvious first-picks. Whoever can position themselves in cancer, obesity, mental decline, has locked-in a core market and margin. Only after that will every orphan disease finally be addressed. And, those neglected diseases will be easier to solve, so it will be worth-it for companies to address even the rarest maladies! With the ease-of-entering the pharma-market, during this upset, there will also be more price-pressure, making treatment more affordable to the poorest and so, multiplying the impact of aid.

Red Tape is Just a Finish Line

When bureaucratic stasis halts solutions to moderate discontent, bureaucracy usually wins. The public is ignored. Yet, when something is *sudden* and miraculous, with such clear and desperately-needed benefits, then a bureaucracy which stands in the way of adoption will lose legitimacy and bend or break. Any barriers to the torrent of medical care coming our way will likely lead to riots in some places. Break through the red tape! Only then will the rush to the hospital be won, by all of us in the race together!

I point to obesity in particular because, among those ‘big three’ I mentioned, it also receives social stigma, and it is the most visible among them. I expect it to be the catalyst for real reform of pharmaceuticals, drug pricing and care-options. Once a pharmaceutical company has tailored a treatment for each particular allele, then everyone with a relative whose genes match will clamor at Washington’s gate!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store