New global alliance plans to fight coronavirus with AI

CAIAC aims to establish an advisory group consisting of UN organisations

A newly-formed UN-backed global alliance of think tanks is working on delivering a platform which will use artificial intelligence (AI) to help policymakers mitigate the effects of the coronavirus on public health and the economy.

The Collective and Augmented Intelligence Against Covid-19 (CAIAC) is formed by Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) and non-profit think tank the Future Society.

CAIAC aims to establish an advisory group consisting of UN entities, such as UNESCO and the UN Global Pulse, and use the “rapidly expanding collection” of global health, social, and economical data on the coronavirus pandemic in order to “enable the world’s decision-makers to confidently take action”.

The idea behind CAIAC’s platform is rooted in a UN initiative called the Global Data Access Framework (GDAF), which uses big data and AI to achieve the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

CAIAC is planning to initially focus its platform on using mobility data and AI to monitor contagion chains, identify and address inaccurate information on COVID-19, and recognise areas which are most vulnerable to the pandemic in order to deploy the appropriate interventions required.

In order to provide CAIAC with the AI technology that will power the decision-making platform, the alliance’s founding members are partnering closely with private sector companies including C3.ai, stability.ai, Element AI, Axis, GLG, and Planet.

Michael Sellitto, deputy director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, said that COVID-19 “represents a shared and urgent global challenge”.

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“AI can play an important role in helping us emerge from the pandemic by organizing the vast quantities of data and emerging research, and combined with human intelligence, surfacing critical insights to support evidence-based decision making. Through this alliance, Stanford HAI and CAIAC will help connect the breadth of research across Stanford with public health leaders, policy makers, and others worldwide on the front lines of this crisis,” he said.

According to Cyrus Hodes, co-founder & chair of the AI Initiative at The Future Society, the pandemic has “accelerated innovation and global cooperation with the blossoming of thousands of bottom-up initiatives to find solutions”.

“Creating a coherent, truly holistic, knowledge platform for policy makers to navigate the flow of information has become a necessity. Fortunately, modern technologies such as AI can be used to harness vast amounts of disparate data and produce meaningful insights,” he said. “CAIAC will build this ground-breaking decision-making tool for global leaders to help solve the pandemic and accelerate the economic and social recovery.”

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