9 The Greatest System of All

“AlphaFold Is the Most Important Achievement in AI—Ever,” declared an article in Forbes. Admittedly, that outlet is driven to hyperbole. Not so for the staid academic journal Nature, but it similarly declared that “[i]t will change everything.”1

AlphaFold predicts protein structures. Proteins are the building blocks of life, responsible for most of what happens inside cells. How a protein works and what it does are determined by its three-dimensional shape. In molecular biology, “structure is function.”

Scientists have long wondered where this structure comes from, how a protein’s constituent parts map out of the many twists and folds of its eventual shape. For decades, laboratory experiments have been the main ...

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