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At health care’s biggest investor conference, AI’s high hopes collided with skepticism

You didn’t need machine learning to make one prediction about the year’s biggest conference for health care investors, which was held in San Francisco last week. It was going to rain.

Recursion, a biotechnology firm that uses machine learning for drug development and and which was announcing that it is rolling out AI-driven drug discovery software with tech giant Nvidia, decided to seize the moment. As the heavens opened, Recursion employees handed out black umbrellas emblazoned with the Recursion logo and lined with neon images of cells. It was one of a series of publicity grabs from the company, including a satellite event featuring Nvidia’s famous CEO, Jensen Huang, who has become a Wall Street rock star as his company’s stock has exploded due to rising expectations for AI, reaching a $1 trillion market value, the sixth highest in the world.


Seeing the square outside the Westin St. Francis, where the  J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference has been held for 42 years, fill with Recursion’s umbrellas was a little like seeing the message that AI was ready for its debut come to life. But it was also true that not everyone was ready to embrace that message.

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