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How Artificial Intelligence Is Helping Fight The COVID-19 Pandemic

From its epicenter in China, the novel coronavirus has spread to infect 414,179 people and cause no less than 18,440 deaths in at least 160 countries across a three-month span from January 2020 till date. These figures are according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Situation report as of March 25th. Accompanying the tragic loss of life that the virus has caused is the impact to the global economy, which has reeled from the effects of the pandemic.

Due to the lockdown measures imposed by several governments, economic activity has slowed around the world, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has stated that the global economy could be hit by its worst growth rate since 2009. The OECD have alerted that the growth rate could be as slow as 2.4%, potentially dragging many countries into recession. COVID-19 has, in a short period of time, emerged as one of the biggest challenges to face the 21st century world. Further complicating the response to this challenge are the grey areas surrounding the virus itself, in terms of its spread and how to treat it.

As research details emerge, the data pool grows exponentially, beyond the capacity of human intelligence alone to handle. Artificial intelligence (AI) is adept at identifying patterns from big data, and this piece will elucidate how it has become one of humanity’s ace cards in handling this crisis. Using China as a case-study, China’s success with AI as a crisis management tool demonstrates its utility, and justifies the financial investment the technology has required to evolve over the last few years.

Advancements in AI application such as natural language processing, speech recognition, data analytics, machine learning, deep learning, and others such as chatbots and facial recognition have not only been utilized for diagnosis but also for contact tracing and vaccine development. AI has no doubt aided the control of the COVID-19 pandemic and helped to curb its worst effects.

According to AI development and essential application to society, Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation (MDI) established the Artificial Intelligence World Society Innovation Network (AIWS.net) for the purpose of promoting ethical norms and practices in the development and use of AI in different areas, especially health care and medical support.