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First Warning About the Wuhan Coronavirus Came From AI

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2 months ago3 min read

The World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control and similar agencies all heavily rely on data from local governments. But those aren't always reliable.


Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Do Not Fear AIs – Listen To Them!

People love apocalyptic stories. Sadly, many of them judge modern technologies based on them – just take a look at Elon Must and his Terminator-phobia. Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes a lot of people feel uneasy nowadays and some tend to see the future Skynet in all advanced AIs. But the truth is that AIs are already capable of saving lives – if we just listen.

To the surprise of some of you, this also concerns the Wuhan Coronavirus. It seems, that China has been mostly lying and keeping secrets since the beginning of the epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) informed about the epidemic on the 9th of January 2020. The American Center for Disease Control (CDC) was a bit quicker and informed about it on the 6th.

AI Doesn't Trust The Official News

But both of these organizations have been surpassed by a surprise party. It was a Canadian health platform that is using the BlueDot AI. It managed to warn about the situation on the 31st of December 2019. Sadly, nobody had really listened to its warnings.

BlueDot uses a very advanced algorithm to monitor epidemics. It searchers through the news in 65 languages, tracks the official announcements and many other sources of information. The output of BlueDot are warnings for its customers to avoid dangerous areas such as Wuhan was in this case. Medicinal staff from several countries, airlines and some hospitals use the outputs. And over time, they should be available for the public as well.

Speed is of the essence when it comes to similar epidemics. The world somewhat counts on the fact China is likely not disclosing all the information even when they are extremely important to the well-being of other countries. Yet, agencies like WHO and CDC base their assumption on the official information. Thus it is not that much of a surprise that an AI managed to be first.

But Don't Trust Facebook Either

The scientists said that their AI isn't using that much of official news but at the same time it doesn't rely on social networks. Those tend to be full of misinformation. What seems to work is to analyze the data about the sales of plane-tickets. These helped BlueDot to better predict where the Wuhan Coronavirus will spread. The AI even successfully predicted that the virus will first spread to Bangkok, Soul, Tai-Pai, and Tokyo.

The scientists were inspired to create the BlueDot AI because of personal experience with the SARS epidemic in 2003 when they witnessed a hospital getting completely paralyzed.


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