The Covid-19 pandemic has the plot of a dystopian film script that none of us want to even watch, least of all, be featured in. But the humans were not asked of their opinion. The extremely contagious disease spread as fast as the horror stories about it. Soon, most of the countries were grappling with growing number of Covid positive cases and needed intervention at the earliest. There were not enough humans on the planet to win a fight of this magnitude.
To stop the spread, even the most skeptical of people, companies, and countries had to rely on a technology they were slightly skeptical about. Few months down the line AI has delivered on every single front. This pandemic served as an image makeover for AI, leading to an unprecedented adoption across the world. The defining feature of Covid-19 is its fast spread that puts an impossible pressure on the healthcare system.
To flatten the curve, lockdowns were imposed in several countries. AI’s ability to process huge amounts of seemingly unrelated data to derive patterns has helped in every stage of fighting this pandemic. AI has helped create a comprehensive checklist of fighting Corona. To name a few, prediction of the spread of Covid, screening and contact tracing positive cases, faster diagnosis by analysing chest scans etc and also accelerated in finding a vaccine.
Controlling The Spread Of Corona
After identifying Corona positive cases a combination of AI, ML, and Big data enables governments to create a contact-tracing map for every person infected and control the spread. After the lockdown is lifted, most countries needed to make sure that there is no surge in Covid positive cases. This has been achieved by monitoring people through AI-powered technology like Computer Vision that analyse live feed from CCTV cameras.
Monitoring tools empower governments and enterprises to make sure that infections are contained in areas with high mobility of people like bus and train stations, malls, manufacturing premises, warehouses etc. An AI-based algorithm can identify the people not wearing face-mask or not maintaining social distancing and screen people for high temperature. It can then raise alarms to the designated authority and immediate action can be taken.
Enterprises are using AI-based computer vision solutions for contactless attendance that eradicate the need for thumbprint scanners. AI-based algorithms can even identify a face with a mask on, ensuring that safety at high attendance areas like the entrance of offices. AI is used for creating time tables for an easy managing of virtual office on-premise office goers.
In a world sans boundaries, misinformation related to Covid-19 spread across every communication channel – WhatsApp and Facebook were the two major carriers. Facebook used AI to filter out misinformation about Covid-19 as well as to take off fake products selling on its platform. WHO, The International Fact Checking Network and governments of several countries created WhatsApp groups that were handled by AI-powered NLP chatbots that provided correct information to people in English and in local languages.
To give an idea of scale, the facts from Facebook blog – “During the month of April, we put warning labels on about 50 million pieces of content related to COVID-19 on Facebook, based on around 7,500 articles by our independent fact-checking partners. Since March 1, we’ve removed more than 2.5 Mn pieces of content for the sale of masks, hand sanitizers, surface disinfecting wipes and Covid-19 test kits.” Facebook’s warning labels prevented around 95% of the people from viewing incorrect information that could have added to the panic about Covid-19.
The new world disease needed a new world approach to finding a vaccine. World’s research community – humans and supercomputers alike came together in the race to find a vaccine for Corona Virus. Research papers from across the world on Covid are available in the Covid-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) formed in March. Google’s DeepMind is decoding the protein structures of the Novel Corona Virus. IBM’s Watson is working with Mayo Clinic to study the use of blood antibodies from recovered Corona Patients, in one use case.
AI is also helping healthcare workers, radiologists and doctors in the faster diagnosis of Covid positive by analysing Chest scans with around 96% accuracy.
As a result of AI helping researchers across the world, we are now at the stage of human trials for multiple vaccines. The pandemic has ensured that AI has now evolved to the level of being Augmented Intelligence, helping humans in every segment and sector. With the knowledge and insights gathered from the Corona, we can hope that in the future, AI will be able to predict and help us prevent the next pandemic before it happens.
The fight against Corona is at its last stage, humanity is wining. AI has emerged as our biggest weapon against Corona on every front.
The war with malevolent, sentient AI systems, hopefully, will continue to remain a fictional plot of another dystopian future. Something we never want to find ourselves in.