Putting deep learning in perspective for pest management scientists

Authors: Clark RD
Publication: Pest Manag Sci
Software: ADMET Predictor®
Division: Simulations Plus


‘Deep learning’ is causing rapid technological changes in many fields of science, and conjectures about its potential for transforming everyone’s work and lives is a matter of great debate. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to apply it as a ‘black box’ tool with little consideration of its potential limitations, especially when the data it is being applied to is less than perfect. In this Perspective, I try to put deep learning into a broader mechanistic and historical context by showing how it relates to older forms of artificial intelligence; by providing a general explanation of how it operates; and by exploring some of the challenges involved in its implementation. Examples wherein it has been applied to pest management problems are provided to illustrate how the technology works and the challenges deep learning faces. At least in the near term, its biggest impact on agrochemical development seems likely to come in automating the tedious work involved in assessing agrochemical efficacy, but getting there will require major investments in building large, well-curated data sets to work from and in providing the expertise required to assess the resulting model predictions in real-world scenarios. Deep learning may also come to complement the machine learning methodologies already available for use in pesticide discovery and development, but it seems unlikely to
supplant them.

By Robert (Bob) D. Clark