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Last Week in AI #56

AI and Covid-19, cashierless stores, and more!

Last Week in AI #56

Image credit: MS TECH / UNSPLASH via MIT Technology Review

Mini Briefs

AI could help with the next pandemic–but not with this one

With the Covid-19 outbreak causing mass panic around the globe, it’s natural that the public would love to see it meet its match in frequently hyped up AI technology. Companies like BlueDot and HeathMap were alerted that something was amiss when their anomaly detection algorithms detected the unusual spike in pneumonia cases at Wuhan in late 2019. In theory, AI systems would find themselves most useful for warnings, early diagnoses, and cures, and there has been published research in these areas. However, we currently don’t have enough data and information to train AI algorithms to diagnose, simulate, and understand viruses such as Covid-19. If we wish to make AI a strong ally against the next pandemic, we’ll need to feed it a healthy diet of data in the years to come.

[… But, AI is helping… ]

While AI may not be the magical cure-all for Covid-19, it is helping in some ways in forecasting, treatment, and prevention. The US’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention holds an annual competition in which research teams vie with different methods to see who can most accurately forecast the flu. A high-performing team from CMU is working with the CDC to adapt their techniques to make predictions about Covid-19. On the treatment side, various biotech companies are attempting to use AI to speed up drug discovery. Finally, for prevention, driverless delivery vehicle startup Neolix’s small autonomous delivery vehicles have proven extremely useful during the coronavirus outbreak: they’re capable of delivering medical supplies, doing food runs for overworked health workers, and even spraying disinfectant on city streets.


Advances & Business

Concerns & Hype

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