Q&A: Pete Kane, CEO of Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence

As the CEO of Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence, Pete Kane has founded multiple startups such as Healthcare Minnesota and Startup Venture Loft, which led to his most recent collaborative creation Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence. The community group uses machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to collaborate on research projects that can make landmark discoveries in science and healthcare. Silicon Valley AI will host the Genomics Hackathon from Friday through Sunday at Google Launchpad in San Francisco. We spoke to Kane to get the skinny on what AI means for the future, and whether we should be afraid of the machines turning on us.

Why should people be excited about AI?

AI is exciting because we’re all exploring it at the same pace. It’s possibilities have captured undivided attention of the world's smartest and most innovative people. It’s exciting because we’re early on in this field. Everyone can get involved. Everyone can dream up ways to use machine intelligence.

What are the biggest benefits of AI now, and in the future?

I think of AI in terms of healthcare, medicine and life sciences research. Right now there are fantastic algorithms for imaging analysis like radiology and dermatology. In the future, I believe AI will play a leading role in areas like drug discovery, personalized medicine and cancer genomics.

Should we fear singularity?

No. The singularity question is a bit overhyped. I feel like we should focus on using AI to increase our understanding of medicine and biology.

What intentions did the original founders have for Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence?

Our original intention was to build community in the SF Bay Area AI scene. We wanted to build sustainable non-profit organization, where people could learn from one another and make meaningful connections on a regular basis.

What was the first thing that got you interested in AI?

When I realized the AI scene wanted healthcare data, I was all in. The previous organization I started was a healthcare innovation community in Minnesota (Healthcare.mn), so I knew I could add a lot to the emerging AI scene here.

What response has the group received from the Silicon Valley community?

Strong! We’ve have built wonderful relationships with researchers, students, and industry. The gatherings we host draw a serious, motivated crowd and I think we’ve built a great culture.

How does genomics play into AI and affect everyday people?

Very little at the moment. The cost and accessibility of high-resolution genomic sequencing excludes the general population. Moreover, it is still largely exploratory how AI/ML and Deep Learning is being applied to genomics, and the interpretability of those results.

What results could be a product of the Genomics Hackathon on June 23?

Participants will be analyzing drug treatment pathways, creating mutation ranking algorithms and simulating drug interventions. When 150 of the smartest people in AI, Genomics, Bioinformatics and Computer Science come together to hack on a rare cancer (NF2) genomics dataset, amazing things are going to happen. Stay tuned.

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