A Fresh Look at AI

Original article can be found here (source): Artificial Intelligence on Medium

We often find that a crisis turns a foe into a friend; what was perceived to be an adversary, becomes a trusted ally. Sometimes the change in perception outlives the crisis. Social distancing has made it impossible for us to perform many of the routine human interactions we find essential. The healthcare system is overloaded. In some cases, artificial intelligence is stepping in and filling the gaps.

At RadiusAI, we had developed a hand-sanitization compliance application that we were intending to release in 2021. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team met and decided that if we could do something to help, we needed to. We decided to release our application early because it can have a significant effect on limiting the spread of diseases like the Coronavirus. We are currently scheduled to pilot at a major healthcare institution.

Our solution tracks compliance with existing hand sanitization protocols, such as “wash or sanitize hands before entering a patient room” using real-time video analytics. If a person fails to sanitize, they are gently nudged to comply with hospital protocols. The goal is to significantly improve compliance and consequently reduce rates of hospital associated infections. Hoping to help as much as we can, we accelerated that effort and added the ability to scan body temperatures using the same system, issuing an alert when there is a febrile individual entering a sensitive zone, e.g., a waiting room. This system is likely to have use beyond healthcare facilities too: retailers are seeking ways to keep their workers healthy so that they can continue performing essential tasks for the community, and to keep their customers at lowest potential risk of acquiring the disease at their facilities. We have developed the ability to track the path of the febrile person so that the areas they have been in contact with can be quickly sanitized, while retaining no personally identifiable information.

Even before the crisis, there was interest in the capabilities we had developed, but there was concern about the perception of the community: is AI replacing a real person? What are the privacy concerns? Those are important concerns even during the crisis. Yet, in a crisis, with heightened stakes, we are more eager to seek real answers to the questions, instead of avoiding a decision and foregoing the potential advantages of new technologies. AI is being used extensively to search for potential vaccines and cures for COVID-19. China has used its extensive video surveillance system to help contain the virus, but western societies will certainly find the price (of abandoning all privacy) too steep. How about technologies that respect privacy, yet provide similar (if somewhat reduced) benefits?

Our hope is that we can make a modest contribution to our community in overcoming the crises, and also that there is a fresh look at the trade-offs in adopting AI at the service of society.