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Mark Zuckerberg cites cloud computing costs as major limiting factor in medical research

We’ve said it many times here at Data Centre Review that cloud computing is a revolution that businesses can’t afford to miss out on, but there’s also no denying that it’s expensive. In fact, it’s so expensive that even one of the world’s richest people, Mark Zuckerberg, has called out the high price as a major limiting factor in medical research. 

During a public debate set up by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Zuckerberg chatted with the research centre’s co-presidents, Dr Joseph DeRisi and Dr Stephen Quake, about the impact that cloud computing costs have on medical research. During the discussion, the group argued that the costs of cloud computing were so high that it was blocking progress on many of the initiative’s projects. 

“In our bio board meetings, one of the things we talk about is the cost of the compute, and our AWS bill, for example, is one of the specific points,” Zuckerberg said. He then quipped that he should call up Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to talk about lowering the initiative’s AWS bill. 

“It’s interesting, the bottleneck for progress in medical research at this point, a lot of the cost for it, is on compute and the data side and not strictly on the wet labs or how long it takes to turn around experiments,” Zuckerberg said. 

Thankfully for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, researchers have access to billions of dollars of investment. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to donate 99% of his wealth to the research centre. 

Unfortunately, not all research centres are as lucky, according to Dr Quake. “The compute to be able to analyse that data is unfortunately not available to the vast majority of the people,” he said.  

“It’s very often the case that you’ll go to one of these low-income resource settings, they’ll have a sequencer but its collecting dust because they can’t compute. Even if they can access the cloud, they can’t afford it.”

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