IBM has a new automated system for performing chemical synthesis. The complex system is based upon technology they started developing three years ago. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict chemical reactions. This interesting topic came to us from IEEE Spectrum in their article, “Robotics, AI, and Cloud Computing Combine to Supercharge Chemical and Drug Synthesis.”

Automated synthesis is a set of techniques that use robotic equipment to perform chemical synthesis in an automated way. The backbone of IBM’s AI model is a machine learning translation method that treats chemistry like language translation. It translates the language of chemistry by converting reactants and reagents to products through the use of Statistical Machine Intelligence and Learning Engine (SMILE) representation to describe chemical entities.

The technology presents options. There appear to be two business models that IBM is pursuing. One is to deploy the entire system on the premises of a company. The other is to offer licenses to private cloud installations.

Melody K. Smith

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