CRISPR Gene Editing

Mammoth Biosciences

With economic indicators not seen since the Great Depression (U.S. unemployment at 18%, GDP Q1 contraction at 4.8%, forecasted to surpass 30% for Q2) and the U.S. stock market propped up by trillions of dollars in government stimulus and soaring toward record highs, this is either the worst of times, as Fed Chair Powell declared in his April 28 monetary policy address, or the best of times yet to come.

As cities begin to reopen from the six week COVID shutdown, one thing remains clear: The sharing economy is dead. Long live the distancing economy.

To get an understanding of the role that AI will play in driving growth amid the coronavirus crisis, I had a chance to talk with Navin Chaddha, managing partner of Mayfield Fund and Forbes Midas List investor, on the post-pandemic outlook for private equity investment. He shared Mayfield’s thesis for their newest funds announced March 25 which provides $750 million for early stage startups. Mayfield closed the funds as 90% of the world locked down and is using them to help humans adapt to the new normal and build a better, more sustainable and resilient future in the post-COVID world.

In discussing AI trends to watch, Chaddha highlighted the following:

1. Biology as Technology

CRISPR gene editing, computational biology, and bio printing is heralding a golden era of biology where health diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as food, fuel and materials, are beginning to rapidly advance.

2. Human-Centered AI for Better Health Outcomes 

AI algorithms is enabling disease surveillance, tele-medicine, virtual diagnostics, fever detection based on facial recognition, and vaccine and drug development.

3. Robotics, AR/VR, Drones

The rise of robotic process automation in industrial warehouses are addressing supply chain failures. In hospitals, robots are taking the pulse of patients and assisting in operating rooms, drones are providing security patrols and being tested for delivery of goods, and AR/VR are providing touchless experiences.

4. E-commerce for a Sustainable Planet

With quarantined-induced store closures, e-commerce has seen a tremendous surge in demand. AI-powered social discovery platforms like secondhand marketplace Poshmark (a Mayfield portfolio company) are providing entertaining, economical and environmentally friendly ways to tidy a wardrobe. Ridesharing companies which have seen sharp drops in demand are pivoting to help with last mile deliveries, like Lyft (another Mayfield portfolio company) which just began offering essential deliveries. The equivalent of mobile locksmiths are coming on the scene to service an at home population and include bike repair trucks and phone repair trucks.

5. Privacy & Identity for the Surveillance Age

As governments step up testing and contact tracing to eradicate contagions and traditional services go online that require the use of personal identifiable information including baking, health and housing data, secure AI-powered privacy and identity verification technologies will become critical to ensure compliance with HIPAA, CCPA, GDPR and other laws. Edge computing that keeps data on the device and allows for speed, security and privacy will begin to dominate..

6. Future of Remote Work

Lastly, as the world moves to a distributed workforce, a remote first ecosystem powered by AI and ML will emerge and include innovation in virtual marketing, selling, customer support and knowledge sharing from home.