72% of life science professionals see their industry struggling with AI

Nearly three-fourths of life science professionals believe their sector is behind others in the development of artificial intelligence (AI), according to a survey conducted by the Pistoia Alliance.

The survey, which included the responses from 229 life science professionals in May 2018, aimed to provide insight into the development of best practices and adoption strategies.

“AI is a multidisciplinary field that needs many inputs to make it effective, and we often hear from our members that making links with other industries, such as the technology sector, is a barrier to AI’s evolution,” said Nick Lynch, cofounder of the Pistoia Alliance. “Additionally, there are many concerns around whether AI will ‘take’ our jobs, and how we can ensure AI is ethical and unbiased.”

Key findings included:

  • 72 percent of life science professionals believed their sector was lagging behind other industries in its development of AI.
  • 69 percent of companies surveyed were using AI, machine learning, deep learning and chatbots, an increase from 44 percent in 2017.
  • 19 percent reported they planned to use AI within the next 12 months,
  • 12 percent of life science professionals were not using AI.
  • 21 percent of respondents did not believe their projects were providing meaningful outcomes, and 21 percent didn’t know if projects were delivering meaningful outcomes.

“This survey shows interest in AI remains strong, but there is still a challenge with moving past the hype to a realty where AI is delivering insights with the power to truly augment researchers’ work,” commented Steve Arlington, president of the Pistoia Alliance. “It is significant that a majority of people in our own industry believe we are trailing other sectors in the use of AI, and we must address this issue by working closely with each other and with stakeholders in other sectors. Spaces to virtually collaborate will become even more critical as political and social shifts —from Brexit to changes to U.S. immigration laws—impact how scientists share knowledge and ideas. AI is poised to have a radical impact on life sciences and healthcare, but the industry must give researchers the best chance of success.”