An artificial intelligence (AI) model that speaks the language of proteins — one of the largest yet developed for biology — has been used to create new fluorescent molecules.

The proof-of-principle demonstration was announced this month by EvolutionaryScale in New York City, alongside US$142 million in new funding to apply its model to drug development, sustainability and other pursuits. The company, launched by scientists who previously worked at tech giant Meta, is the latest entrant in an increasingly crowded field that is applying cutting-edge machine-learning models trained on language and images to biological data.

“We want to build tools that can make biology programmable,” says Alex Rives, the company’s chief scientist, who was part of Meta’s efforts to apply AI to biological data.

That should raise some ethical concerns.

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