AI Talk: Breakthroughs, health trends, digital clothes

Feb. 28, 2020 / By V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD

This week’s AI Talk…

Breakthrough Technologies

This week, MIT Technology Review released 10 breakthrough technologies for 2020. An interesting list and there are a few that focus on health:

  • Hyper-personalized medicine, including the ability to manufacture drugs that help just one individual. This is made possible by identifying a specific gene that causes a rare disease and rectifying it. The cost of such a treatment is likely to be prohibitively high, unless we manage to develop a more “cookie cutter” strategy for creating these treatments.
  • A new class of drugs, called Senolytics, are being created that claim to reverse the aging process. The name of the drugs seems an odd mixture of senility and seniors!
  • AI used to create lifesaving drugs is another breakthrough mentioned. Apparently, there are a mindboggling 1060 molecules that can potentially provide pharmaceutical benefit to humans. The trick is to find the useful ones.

One other breakthrough that caught my attention is one on “Unhackable internet,” based on the quantum principle of entanglement. What in the world is entanglement? Recently, I listened to Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution by Professor Wolfson. It lived up to the billing as one of The Great Courses and has an entire chapter on entanglement. This Wikipedia article provides a less understandable version of the principle. I don’t claim to understand any of this, however, it is fascinating science where the behavior of particles is somehow interrelated (entangled) even at great distances—and my friend with a PhD in physics says the principle holds even over galactic distances!

Digital Health Trends

The Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg researches the impact of digital technology. They have recently released a report based on their Future of Health project. The results are based on a survey and it appears they have just released preliminary findings. What are the findings? Here is a snapshot:

  • 24 percent would embrace AI if it lowered healthcare costs
  • 80 percent think health care is a basic right
  • People are ready to embrace technology-assisted lifestyle changes
  • Almost all concur that health care is the main driver for the upcoming election

The center has promised to release a series of reports on this topic in the upcoming months. These findings underscore the fact that healthcare is ripe for some serious disruption!

Digital Clothes

Yes, you heard it right: The era of digital clothes is here! A friend forwarded me a link to this blog (take a look at the video posted there). It appears a not so quiet revolution is happening in the fashion industry and it is going to impact the way we shop and dress virtually. For one, design houses are designing virtual 3-D runways where real models and their fake replicas don all assortments of virtual clothes. The era of mannequins in store windows may be literally out the window – replaced by their digital avatars! An online shopper can view themselves in all manner of digital clothes before they buy the real thing. This technology goes beyond buying real goods. There are images popping up on Instagram and Snapchat of real people donning digital clothes! And, perhaps, as my friend suggests, it won’t be long before it enters the corporate world: those working from home appear in teleconferences wearing digital suits, when they are actually in their pajamas, donning virtual reality headsets! Brave new world!


Many thanks to my friend, Vinod Kulathumani, for sending me the article on digital clothes.

I am always looking for feedback and if you would like me to cover a story, please let me know. “See something, say something”! Leave me a comment below or ask a question on my blogger profile page.

V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD, is Director of Research for 3M M*Modal and is an AI Evangelist with four decades of experience in AI and Computer Science research.