The big, big problem. No cure so far for Alzheimer’s, none in sight. We need to try something really new. How about ChatGPT?
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that AI, and in particular the product-du-jour is ChatGPT from OpenAI. It has already achieved some outstanding feats, such as being able to write fluent, convincing and constructive essays and papers good enough at least for an SAT paper if that’s your gig. It can create original images when requested of anything at all, even down to the genre and style you wish. It can even do this for videos. And it can hold a chat with you that might enthrall you or scare you out of your wits.
Naturally, the Luddites are already up in arms about the implied diminution of human capabilities. But right now my question is more short-term and not at all philosophical, to wit: can it find a cure for Alzheimer’s?
I think Alzheimer’s is the perfect test for AI. That is, humans haven’t been able to find any form of treatment, even palliatives let alone a cure. Despite spending billions of dollars we are no closer to a cure. Recent Alzheimer’s drugs have failed in clinical trials There’s no convincing research in progress that looks like to effect either a cure, or a palliative. Our only prescription is to recommend lifestyle changes. What would they be if you have it already or well on the ways towards it?
Alzheimer’s is a great paradigm for the effectiveness of AI because its unsolved and probably unsolvable on present trajectories. That’s because despite the involvement of the smartest scientists on the planet we still are seemingly no nearer to getting anywhere. Solve the Alzheimer’s problem and it clear that there’s a new horse in the race to go beyond the limited capabilities of the human brain.
Part of the problem might well be the explosion of neuroscience data and the bewildering assortment of new techniques in biochemistry, These days there’s stuff like CRISP-R (in various flavors these days), genetic databases, monoclonal antibodies and so much more. It could be that humans just can’t cope with this volume and its hyper-complexity. How do you deal with that?
Here is my proposal. We need to launch one or more projects to find a treatment for Alzheimer’s using AI. The NIH and other research-funding agencies should make this a top priority and take some money away from approaches that haven’t been productive so far such as pursuing amyloid plaque approaches. The aim would be to get AI to target completely new approaches that haven’t been thought up or tried so far.
I think that the fund granting individuals and agencies need to adopt some new approaches that are counter-intuitive so that we know we aren’t just duplicating old approaches using different labels. These might include:
The Alzheimer’s scourge is an existential tragedy for millions of people in the US and worldwide. Let’s get serious about doing something about it!
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