AI and the Tumorinator

Sep 19, 2023

“AI Is as Risky as Pandemics and Nuclear War, Top CEOs Say, Urging Global Cooperation”—TIME magazine

“Artificial intelligence may lead humanity to extinction, industry leaders warn”—France 24

“The ‘godfather of AI’ says he’s worried about ‘the end of people’”—CBC

Every day we come across a new apocalyptic headline around how a hostile artificial intelligence (AI) will willfully destroy us. These dire warnings appear to echo the plot of The Terminator in which an artificially intelligent defense network called Skynet or Titan becomes self-aware and decides to trigger a nuclear holocaust known as Judgement Day.

Says James Cameron, writer, and director of “Terminator” retrospectively, “I warned you guys…and you didn’t listen”.[i]

Well, James, major props, and a tip of the hat to you, your movies are fantastic, really and truly they are, but FYI we needn’t worry—about AI terminators.

A much more formidable, and, frankly, credible terminator that hunts almost two million of us right now even as we write these words and that, by and large, we created, not with digital 1’s and 0’s, but with unhealthy lifestyles and exposure to occupational carcinogens, environmental pollution, and certain long-term infections like human papilloma virus (HPV) is cancer.

Call it the Tumorinator.


Because the Tumornator will stop at nothing to destroy its host, that is, us. To quote Kyle Reese, the protagonist and father of humanity’s savior, John Connor, from the first Terminator, “Listen, and understand. That Terminator is out there, it can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with, it doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear, and it absolutely will not stop…EVER, until you are dead!”. Yes, exactly. Substitute Tumorinator for Terminator and that’s it.

The Tumorinator is on mission to eradicate us, even though this mission will bring about its own demise since cancer cells need help from stromal or support cells to survive. And so, this is a one-way suicide mission in which cancer fanatically sacrifices itself to kill the host.

The Tumorinator does not bargain or respond to logic or reason because its mission is fundamentally illogical and unreasonable to begin with; after all, why do cancer cells go through all the trouble they go through over many, many years to make themselves immortal if the plan is just to kill themselves in the end? Like, how crazy is that?! Why don’t cancer cells instead find a way to take advantage of their newfound immortality and to peacefully coexist with their hosts, in other words, to live-and-let live like some viruses? Instead of do-or-die, how about don’t-do-and-don’t-die?

But unfortunately, no, that is not an option. The Tumorinator will never not choose to complete the mission. It does not compromise, does not feel pity or remorse, does not care whether its hosts are rich or poor, black, or white, famous, or non-famous or whether they carry the “Connor” last name or another one, and absolutely will not stop, ever, until its hosts are dead.

AI is possibly the enemy without (feel free like us to take this with a heavy dose of salt), but cancer is 100% the enemy within because it originates from normal cells that transform to malignant ones through genetic mutations; and then in what is perhaps the ultimate act of self-hate, the Tumorinator destroys itself and the host cells from whence it came.

It is possible to fight the Tumorinator in two ways. The first is with better dietary and exercise health behaviors. The second is with therapeutic agents that reprogram the stromal cells of the Tumorinator to be helpful not harmful to the host just as the reprogrammed Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator defends Sarah Connor against the terrifying liquid metal T-1000 in Terminator 2; this is the one that oozes into the cockpit of a helicopter and walks through prison bars, as shown below.

We mentioned earlier that the Tumorinator depends on stromal or support cells for its survival. Well, EpicentRx therapies nibrozetone (RRx-001) and AdAPT-001 reprogram and recruit different stromal cells—immune cells, endothelial or vascular cells, and scar-producing cells—to the fight against cancer. More to come about this in future blog posts.

Much depends on whether nibrozetone (RRx-001)[1] and AdAPT-001[2]—and other therapies—succeed. Based on best current evidence, it looks like they might.

Because if not, to paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger, then the Tumorinator “will be back”.

[1] Oronsky B et al. Discovery of RRx-001, a Myc and CD47 Downregulating Small Molecule with Tumor Targeted Cytotoxicity and Healthy Tissue Cytoprotective Properties in Clinical Development. J Med Chem. 2021 Jun 10;64(11):7261-7271.

[2] Oronsky B et al. TGF-β: the apex predator of immune checkpoints. Future Oncol. 2023 Jul 28.