Go watch this video about an AI system that can predict how proteins fold

A diagram comparing an AlphaFold prediction with an identified protein shape, showing 99.09 percent Global Distance Test accuracy.
An AlphaFold prediction compared against an identified protein. | Image: DeepMind

Within any living organism, there are thousands of different proteins, each with its own unique shape. For decades, the exact formation of those shapes has been a pain for scientists to figure out. How exactly does a protein, which starts as a string of amino acids, fold itself into the funky 3D shapes you might recognize from diagrams? AlphaFold, an AI from DeepMind, may have an answer. It can predict, with heretofore unseen accuracy, the shape a protein will take.

AlphaFold was put to the test in a global competition called Critical Assessment of protein Structure Prediction, or CASP, which DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis calls the “Olympics of protein folding” in a video. During the competition, systems like AlphaFold are given the amino…

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