Proteins baby!

Welcome back friends and new AI enthusiasts to ChildsPlayAI, a weekly newsletter where we break down what’s happening in AI, in language you can understand.

Google’s DeepMind AI entity is making major advancements in protein 3D structure (we’ll explain below) with AlphaFold. It’s kinda cray.

The Biden administration signed an executive order for “Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. The jury’s still out on whether it’s controversial or the right move.

Let’s dig in.

Google’s DeepMind + AlphaFold Proteins

A quick backstory: DeepMind was an AI startup founded in 2010 in the U.K. by some guys who met at UCL (University College London). One of the founders, Demis Hassabis, said that the startup began working on artificial intelligence technology by teaching it how to play old games from the seventies and eighties.

Major venture capital firms took notice as well as big names like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, and threw some money at the startup. In 2014, Google said “we’ve seen enough, we’ll take it.” ($400M – $650M are the estimates). Since then they’ve been working on major AI advancements – one of which is called AlphaFold.

Per the website, AlphaFold is an AI system developed by DeepMind that predicts a protein’s 3D structure from its amino acid sequence. This is neat because they make this database (AlphaFold DB) available to the scientific community.

Biology 101 – proteins are the billions of tiny molecular machines that are inside every cell in your body. Interactions of amino acids in a protein cause the protein to “fold.” For decades, scientists tried to find a method to reliably determine a protein’s structure from its sequence of amino acids alone. The problem is they are expensive and time-consuming. This is known scientifically as the “protein folding problem.”

Enter AlphaFold and it’s neat database. Scientists are using this database to solve real-world problems such as breaking down single-use plastics, solving biological puzzles, and finding new drugs to treat liver cancer.

This is the AI we’re here for and why we’re excited to keep following what Google Deepmind can do.

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Biden’s Executive Order for AI

On October 30th, the White House issued its first Executive Order for artificial intelligence – its purpose is to “ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of AI.”

Critics warn of “stifling red tape” on companies who are building AI solutions. Proponents say it’s much-needed regulation to help keep the American people safe. We encourage reading the White House Fact sheet to form your own opinion. The order has 8 specific sections:

New Standards for AI Safety and Security

Protecting Americans Privacy

Advancing Equity and Civil Rights

Standing up for Consumers, Patients, and Students

Supporting Workers

Promoting Innovation and Competition

Advancing American Leadership Abroad

Ensuring Responsible and Effective Government Use of AI

The devil’s in the details though. The government wants developers to share their safety test results and “other critical information” with them. It’s a hot one. The long pole of government reach.

The EU is in the final stages of approval for a sweeping law to reign in the harms of AI. Congress is still in the early stages of debating safeguards. The Biden-Harris administration is stepping up to use the levers it can control.

We can debate all day the government’s overreach into our lives but oversight and regulation here is needed and is en route it seems.

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