Artificial Intelligence and the Search for Answers

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

In what ways can AI help?

AI is already being used in various ways to fight the pandemic.

In predicting the pandemic before it began.

BluDot, a Canadian startup firm, warned its clients days before the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued statements about the virus in Wuhan, China. How did they do it? They used algorithms to search for patterns in their data. Finding a pattern emerging in Wuhan, they quickly warned clients not to travel to the area.

And beyond that, the company correctly identified the next countries where Covid-19 was going to crop up next by analyzing flight patterns.

Predicting when patients require hospitalization and ICU services.

AI is predicting when patients that have tested positive for Covid-19 will have severe cases and need to be hospitalized. As it turns out, AI has been more accurate than human judgment alone in helping hospitals to prioritize the use of their limited resources.

One example comes from Denmark, where computer scientists have begun using AI to predict when patients may require the use of a ventilator. The system takes data from patients and uses it to find out which symptoms and traits in patients have required the use of ventilators.

Using that information, it predicts which patients in the future may end up with more severe symptoms. By assessing the number of ventilators needed, doctors and hospitals can work to obtain an adequate amount of equipment before the onslaught occurs. And patients will be able to get the treatment they need.

Disseminating large volumes of research materials.

New research is being done every day on Covid-19. The challenge becomes collecting and analyzing all the information to find connections and insights that can help guide scientists looking for answers.

A tool, created by a team of scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is scanning tens of thousands of research papers in the hunt for insight or a connection that may not be apparent without the help of machine learning.

Using AI combined with network medicine to predict drug treatments.

Network medicine is using a complex set of interactions at the molecular level to view a disease. Combining the use of AI with network medicine has helped scientists to identify drugs at a much faster rate than without the use of technology. Drug discovery is typically very slow, but the need for a quick treatment has prompted scientists to use AI to scan through massive amounts of data to get quick answers.

One result of this comes from the London startup, BenevolentAI. Their AI software has helped to identify a drug that may dampen the effects of Covid-19. Clinical trials on the drug are set to begin in the US this June.