The start of the new decade came with the global spread of a novel coronavirus; a global pandemic defining developments in economics, international politics, and disrupting the day-to-day life of society at large. As experts and authorities rely on the development of a vaccine to overcome COVID-19, the world turns to the pharmaceutical industry, medical research, and technology with much anticipation. Can artificial intelligence offer a solution, and if so, what are the consequences for our privacy?

Though AI is a complex topic, and as a term often liberally applied to any machine learning system, we chose not to do a deep dive into the technology. Instead, we focused on the use of AI in healthcare and drug discovery, and the implications on individuals’ right to privacy. This is imperative when we touch on the use of genetic data, as your data is your identity. Even when you anonymise the data by decoupling it from personal information, the data itself is still highly personal.

Fortunately encryption has come a long way, but what is the value of data to research after it has been obscured? In our latest report we explore the emerging technologies and encryption models that are being applied to drug discovery, and how each of them provide their own approach to data privacy while still being able to contribute to research.

In blockchain technology, engineers have made incredible progress by bringing theoretical mathematics and encryption into practise to secure large transactional networks. Zero-Knowledge-Proofs are a great example of this. In addition to its often inherent encryption, decentralised networks can also act as an access portal, both to irrefutably log who accessed the data and let organisations or individuals store sensitive data locally.

The EU has spearheaded the right to privacy with GDPR, can it now take the next step by securing our privacy in the race to find new treatments using AI?

Download our latest report, AI, Privacy, & Genomics: The Next Era of Drug Design to read our full analysis on how artificial intelligence is shaping the future of medical research, and what the implications and solutions are for our right to privacy.

AI, Privacy, & Genomics: The Next Era of Drug Design was originally published in dGen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.