Hong Qin, a computer science professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was born in a city on China’s east coast not far from the birthplace of Confucius.
A great Chinese scholar said, “The greatest knowledge is knowing the extent of ignorance.”
Confucius may have been on to something when he said that true wisdom is knowing your limits. Qin (meaning “chin”) works in the field, computational biology, which is very complex and helps to appreciate the boundaries of the human brain.
More and more, human researchers like Qin are humbling themselves and letting intelligent models and supercomputers do the heavy lifting of scientific discovery.
Qin’s mission is to solve the mysteries of aging by finding patterns in how the sexes work. It does so by using new tools to examine genetic data from the National Institutes of Health. In simple words, he is trying to look into our biological clock to see how it works.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “Genome is a fancy word for all of your DNA. From potatoes to dogs, all living organisms have their own genomes. Each genome contains the information needed to make and maintain that organism throughout its life.”
If everything is in trouble, it can be. But it’s also exciting.
One day, using the work of Qin and others like him, technology will be able to predict your day of death and be more like God and create special medicine to cure your illness.
Qin uses the work of eye surgeons to illustrate that point about personalized medicine.
“When I need glasses, the doctors measure my eyes and test all the different aspects of my vision, and then give me the best prescription for glasses,” says the 54-year-old researcher, who received in his doctorate from the University of Chicago. “But that’s not how other health care works. Most health care in the US is not optimized for the individual.”
If that sounds like a good idea for a local university, the UTC SimCenter, one of the state’s best computer science labs, makes it possible. The powerful computers at the SimCenter, on MLKing Boulevard, are up to the task Qin and his assistants throw at them.
Qin recently took part in an international competition called the Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge, which aims to prepare us for the coming world of overweight and elderly people. To advance to the second round of the challenge, Qin’s team received US$50,000 (RM236,400) in seed money, to go along with the government grants they received.
Simply put, Qin is looking for patterns in human genes to help prolong life and develop better medicines for the elderly. Each person has about 20,000 genes, and some of those genes are called “driver genes.” If those driver genes can be isolated and chemically delivered, the course of human life can be changed.
For example, Qin says it’s true that one of the best ways to live longer is to follow a low-calorie diet. If computational biologists like Qin can help identify how it works at the genetic level, compounds may be developed to manipulate genes to mimic the effects of life, but not food. .
While it may seem like magic, the road to those applications is long and difficult. What is found in the data must be proven through experiments on fruit flies, mice, primates and humans before applications are approved.
However, the biggest obstacle to breakthroughs is resistance in the medical community to trusting something as new and complex as artificial intelligence. Regulatory agencies, such as the federal Food and Drug Administration, have not yet come out to indicate that they accept AI research as real, he said.
“Some say health care is the last industry in the United States that hasn’t been touched by AI,” Qin said in an interview.
On the other hand, there is a lot of money to be made from breakthroughs to extend human life, so the world’s capital corporations are funding research to find anti-aging treatments. Chasing the fountain of youth, it turns out, can be very rewarding.
As a child, Qin said he played a Chinese board game called Go. Like chess, centuries of human understanding go into playing Go to the highest levels. But now, AI models are making high-level Go players rethink the game. Tried and true Go strategies are being proven wrong, and new ways to win the game with AI are emerging.
The same may happen in medicine, Qin believes, when people start relying on AI models to solve problems too complex for the human brain alone.
“Because we’re human, sometimes we get stuck and can’t go outside the box to look at other ways,” Qin said.
And suddenly Confucianism and the new field of AI-driven computational biology seem very similar. – Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn./Tribune News Service