HARNESSING TECHNOLOGY IN OUR BATTLE WITH COVID-19

Tech companies are pumping out new services and products to tackle pandemic challenges. For all the misery caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks certain to leave us with at least one benign legacy: technological innovation. Across sectors and industries, from medicine and biotechnology to logistics and communications, existing technology is being repurposed while new innovations are emerging within a matter of weeks in the battle against the coronavirus. n the race against COVID-19, getting technology innovation up to speed is key. Since COVID-19 laid siege to the Chinese city of Wuhan in January, one of us (Xian-Sheng Hua) has been heading an “intelligent healthcare team” – a kind of rapid response team – at Alibaba’s DAMO Academy to develop or repurpose technologies quickly to meet the specific needs of the epidemic response. The Alibaba team followed an Agile-like strategy, as solutions needed to be developed in a matter of days. From day one the team worked on multiple things simultaneously, such as data analysis, model definition, parameter modelling, parameter learning, verification and deployment. Increasingly, however, privacy is becoming a concern as technologies are deployed for a “new normal” of living with the coronavirus while the search for a vaccine or treatment continues. The epidemic response is very much inter-sectoral; it is not just a public health issue. Social media has enriched epidemic intelligence and become an essential channel for risk communication. The emergence of AI in medicine and health security today is sowing the seed of tomorrow’s technology for worldwide epidemic intelligence and global coordination of pandemic response.  Read More >>

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