Biotech CEO: We're Only Growing Stronger With AI, Robotics – The Motley Fool

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In an interview from Motley Fool Live, recorded on April 8, contributor Rachel Warren asks Amyris (AMRS 7.50%) CEO John Melo about how the biotechnology company’s AI and robotics are pushing the boundaries of its innovation and speeding up the time to engineer and design products.

Rachel Warren: We live in an age of digital transformation, and this has been incredibly apparent over the last few years and this has been no exception in the biotech industry, and one thing I find fascinating is how your company is leveraging a variety of tech innovations to create more sustainable and great options across a range of these cases. Can you dive deeper into how tech innovation fits into your product development platforms like AI, for example?
John Melo: Sure. I think the way you framed it, Rachel, is exactly right, which is the further on the edge information technology and AI, artificial intelligence, and data science is pushed, then the better the science of biology and synthetic biology can grow. Because we are dependent on computing power. We’re dependent on data, we’re dependent on better artificial intelligence that enables us to use models to do engineering faster, better, cheaper.
To me, technology as a whole, especially information technology, is the great enabler that actually enables synthetic biology to be all that it can be. How do we use that? Look, we use it across just about everything we do. I think the best example I can give you is we created this AI Scientist. The Scientist is actually an amazing program. We basically give the Scientist a target and the Scientist, using our models and AI, is able to actually engineer an organism to produce our target chemistry faster, better, cheaper than any scientist we have in our system today.
It’s not that the scientist is no longer valid or needed, we obviously need a scientist to use judgment, we need a scientist to assess data, we need a scientist to evolve the models. But the AI Scientist actually is a great workhorse that can do a lot of engineering for us. How does that translate into results? With the amount of AI and programming that we have now and the modeling we’ve done, we could literally go from a target molecule to an organism, making that molecule in fermentation in a month or less for most chemistry.
Now, making it is one thing, you then actually need to be able to make it at a competitive cost so you can commercialize it. That’s in synthetic biology, where the greatest risk and the greatest time consumption is because you have to iterate your way with engineering cycles to be able to get the conversion of that carbon inside of a biological pathway, an organism, to be able to go from carbon and sugarcane to patchouli oil to vanilla, to squalane, to farnesene, whatever that final chemistry is.
Again, we use AI, we use robotics, we use data science, and we use it all at the edge of where the technology is today as a way to enable our speed in engineering and our speed in designing the organism to make the chemistry we want.
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