It is wonderful to be back here at DLD. I have always found this event to be a source of great inspiration and hope. And given the state of the world today, I think we could all benefit from a giant dose of optimism.

At BenevolentAI, we have this message that glows in neon in our lobby. It says, “Because it matters”. It shines brightly and inspires and unites us in a shared purpose. And it defines and guides all that we do. We believe that unconventional thinking combined with purposeful technology can truly change the world. And that is what I want to talk with you about this morning.

Our mission is to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, and that is the fact that there are over 9,000 diseases that have no treatment and over 300 million people who are suffering from rare diseases for which no treatment will be developed anytime soon — as long as the current economic and development models persist.

And whilst so many other industries have been transformed by technology and innovation, why does it still cost an average of $2.5 billion to take a new drug from discovery to FDA-approval and 10–15 years before it can be given to patients? And in terms of efficacy, 30–50% of top selling drugs don’t work for the patients to which they are prescribed. Now, to an outside observer, this must sound astonishing. How can it be that those metrics are acceptable? How can we be failing patients on such a catastrophic level? The scaled innovation and advancements which are the hallmarks of disruptive technologies have yet to have a real impact on the development of new treatments for disease.

Now all of us here today are fortunate. We live in a time where our lives will extend well into our 90s, far beyond what we imagined when we were young. But while we may well live longer, we can also expect to spend our later years unwell. And that has big consequences for our economy and society.

Chronic diseases such Alzheimer’s and diabetes are already placing an unprecedented burden on families, affecting roughly eight out of ten elderly people. And many of us have lived through the agonising experience of someone we love suffering from a type of cancer or other disease that has no treatment. And if that disease is not a candidate for a blockbuster drug, there won’t be a medicine developed for it anytime soon.

When someone you love is diagnosed with a devastating disease, this reality hits home. Your life is suddenly turned completely upside down. You become an amateur clinician, you read every article and journal. You spend every available moment online studying results from clinical trials, surgical methods, treatment protocols and pain management. You engage with anyone who has a point of view in search of that one nugget of information that might change the prognosis or point you in the direction of a novel treatment. But all too often, there is no help to be found. Something has to change.

Because in this case, failure is not a failure of will. It is not driven by a lack of desire to do better or a lack of commitment from those who work in this field. It is caused, primarily, by two factors: The first is that human biology is incredibly complex. The human body represents a living, breathing big data system with over 37 trillion cells. It’s the product of millions of years of evolution and infinite factors and permutations. Combine that with the fact that more than 10,000 new scientific papers are published every day, making it impossible for even the most learned scientists and research teams to keep up, let alone process the wealth of information that exists and that just might be relevant. That’s a massive human limitation, but it represents a perfect machine learning opportunity.

So our mission as a business is to unlock the potential of this vast corpus of data — turning it from information that overwhelms us into knowledge that can inspire the discovery and development of new treatments that work for the patients that need them.

We use the power of AI to unlock novel relationships and create new knowledge, and we employ that knowledge in the service of our mission — to disrupt and remake the way medicines are developed so that no disease goes untreated and people can lead longer and healthier lives.

We have developed the world’s leading AI-powered drug discovery and development platform to accelerate the journey from data to medicine. It helps research teams and scientists navigate a scale of data that has previously been impossible to process and comprehend. Our inference algorithms and models help uncover new insights and knowledge to discover and develop more effective medicines, faster than ever before.

So how are we doing this?

We started out with an ambitious goal — to create the world’s largest biomedical knowledge base — and that’s precisely what we have done. Five years on, the Benevolent Knowledge Graph contains over a billion contextualised, machine-curated relationships, more than a third of which are proprietary, developed to guide the process of validating hypotheses and experiments. Together, these biological facts represent all that is known to be true about a disease. Our algorithms analyse this vast corpus of knowledge and reason across it all to provide scientists and researchers with capabilities beyond human insight. We ingest millions of chemical structures and use state-of-the-art AI to create the largest drug-like chemical space to facilitate the design of the right molecule for the right patients. We have built a suite of tools that make output interpretable and actionable by scientists. The result is an automated platform that powers target identification to define the underlying cause of a disease, molecular design to develop the most effective treatments and patient stratification to understand how individual patients will respond to that treatment.

Our ambition is great and our purpose is clear.

But we recognise that no one business can revolutionise a sector of the scale of drug development all on its own. To change the status quo of the way medicines are discovered and developed and to substantially reduce costs and ensure treatments are more effective for patients, we need a dramatically different approach. This means that we are not going to use our technology to harvest and ring-fence information, but to open our platform and make it available to researchers and scientists. Not for the benefit of a few, but to enrich us all.

BenevolentAI is the most remarkable company I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. Of all the ventures that I have been involved with since I began my career in Silicon Valley thirty years ago, it’s the most exciting and ambitious by far, and it is also the most principled. And let’s face it — as AI empowers the next wave of technological advancement, we need moral leadership and strong conviction to development that benefits everyone.

At BenevolentAI, we have over 200 biologists, chemists, engineers, informaticians and data scientists working in radical cross-functional squads to push the boundaries of artificial intelligence, to unlock the power of decades of research, to understand the underlying causes of disease and to develop new treatments for the millions of patients that need them.

We do it to disrupt and remake the way drugs are discovered and developed.

We do it to benefit humanity.

And we do it because it matters.

Thank you.