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IBM's AI guru leaps over to Brit biz benevolent.ai

Drug discovery is benevolent business

By Katyanna Quach, 9 Sep 2016

Benevolent.ai, a British artificial intelligence (AI) healthcare company, has hired IBM’s AI expert Jérôme Pesenti, ex-VP of Watson Core Technology, to head up its technology division.

Founded in 2013, benevolent.ai was spun out of the management team working at Proximagen, a pharmaceutical company, who were frustrated with the slow pace of drug discovery.

Data from patient databases and scientific papers is constantly expanding, said Ken Mulvany, chairman of benevolent.ai.

“PubMed uploads 10,000 papers every day. Some of the information might be true, some of it will be speculative, and some of it will be false. The human brain just doesn’t have the capacity to keep up,” Mulvany told The Register.

Benevolent.ai aims to analyse data and form connections through a knowledge graph, allowing researchers to observe patterns they might have missed.

“The data might show that a protein upregulates a particular gene. And that could lead researchers to look for drugs in a completely different area,” Mulvany said.

Pesenti has over 16 years of experience in data wizardry. After his PhD in mathematics in Paris, Pasenti had a brief stint in academia as a visiting computer scientist at the Carnegie Mellon University.

He left academia to cofound Vivisimo, a company that specialises in developing computer search engines. Vivisimo was acquired by IBM in 2012 for an undisclosed amount and Pesenti joined IBM’s Big Data team as chief scientist, before using data analysis in machine learning for IBM Watson.

Pesenti cited the opportunity “to create impactful AI technology” which could “bring enormous benefits to society” as a major factor in his decision to leave IBM. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing