What is worse than academic groups getting scooped by DeepMind? The fact that the collective powers of Novartis, Merck, Pfizer, etc, with their hundreds of thousands (~million?) of employees, let an industrial lab that is a complete outsider to the field, with virtually no prior molecular sciences experience, come in and thoroughly beat them on a problem that is, quite frankly, of far greater importance to pharmaceuticals than it is to Alphabet. It is an indictment of the laughable “basic research” groups of these companies, which pay lip service to fundamental science but focus myopically on target-driven research that they managed to so badly embarrass themselves in this episode.
Quite a scathing summary. If this is mostly gibberish to you, skip to the “what just happened” section which has a good summary of what the DeepMind team did and did not do. While it’s a commendable achievement, it’s nothing like the pedestrian news is reporting. The most interesting part of the article to me is the assessment of what’s wrong with academic and pharmaceutical research.