In late December last year, Dr. Li Wenliang began warning officials about a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, but was silenced by the police before tragically succumbing to the disease two months later. Meanwhile, almost simultaneously, a computer server halfway across the world started issuing worrying alerts of a potential new outbreak. The server runs software by BlueDot, a company based in San Francisco that uses AI to monitor infectious disease outbreaks for signs of early trouble.
Not enough people listened to either human expertise or AI. Then cases skyrocketed in Wuhan and spread across the world, and people had to take note.
Hindsight is 20/20, but it is remarkable that BlueDot and other machine learning-based services are beginning to catch early signs of infectious disease outbreaks—almost within the same time frame as health experts, if just for COVID-19. We often hear about AI as the next second coming of healthcare, where it can catch cases early, accelerate drug development, and personalize treatment. Yet COVID-19 is the first global pandemic to ever hold healthcare AI’s feet to the flame in a global, serious, and urgent real-world test case. In a head-to-head race, can AI actually accelerate new anti-virals or vaccines for COVID-19, something the world has never previously seen? Or will traditional biotech measures excel, in turn unveiling that AI’s hype massively outstrips reality?
MIT Technology Review recently reported an excellent piece that comprehensively looks at how AI—at its current ability level—can help us predict, diagnose, and treat novel viral threats. I’m on board with the general idea: AI’s potential is enormous.
Yet for now, don’t look to AI to help tackle COVID-19; it’s simply not ready.
That said, it is enormously helpful to see how major machine learning companies are utilizing or repositioning their technologies for tackling the crisis. People often critique AI tested in “toy cases,” or standardized, limited datasets that may have limited significance in the real world. With companies working on COVID-19, that’s no longer the case…
Image Credit: Envato/ Amanda Scott
News This Week
In a new study, scientists with the University of Florida have found that a combination of silver nanoparticles and antibiotics is effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The researchers hope to turn this discovery into viable [...]
Peritoneal cancer is difficult to treat and has a poor survival prognosis. But a new and effective nanomedicine delivery system is offering some hope. The company is called NaDeNo and is well underway with [...]
According to a new study by researchers at Penn Medicine, ketamine, which is well-known as an anesthetic and is becoming increasingly popular as an antidepressant, dramatically reorganizes activity in the brain, almost as if [...]
A new immunotherapy releases cancer-killing cytokines only within the tumor. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have developed a new T cell-based immunotherapy that selectively targets cancer cells, producing a powerful anti-cancer cytokine [...]
An AI was tasked with creating proteins with anti-microbial properties. Researchers then created a subset of the proteins and found some did the job. An AI has designed anti-microbial proteins that were then tested [...]
Treating cancer with combinations of drugs can be more effective than using a single drug. However, figuring out the optimal combination of drugs, and making sure that all of the drugs reach the right [...]
By one unique metric, we could approach technological singularity by the end of this decade, if not sooner. A translation company developed a metric, Time to Edit (TTE), to calculate the time it takes for professional [...]
Phase transition in early universe changes strength of interaction between dark and normal matter. Dark matter remains one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics. It is clear that it must exist, because without [...]
Summary: Researchers have developed a new family of nano-scale capsules capable of carrying CRISPR gene editing tools to different organs of the body before harmlessly dissolving. The capsules were able to enter the brains of [...]
An enzyme that defends human cells against viruses can help drive cancer evolution towards greater malignancy by causing myriad mutations in cancer cells, according to a study led by investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine. The [...]
Using a mouse model, Japanese researchers unleash the likely mechanism of action of Actinidia arguta (sarunashi) juice on lung cancer development. Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in Japan and across the [...]
When used as wearable medical devices, stretchy, flexible gas sensors can identify health conditions or issues by detecting oxygen or carbon dioxide levels in the breath or sweat. They also are useful for monitoring [...]
Novel drugs, such as vaccines against covid-19, among others, are based on drug transport using nanoparticles. Whether this drug transport is negatively influenced by an accumulation of blood proteins on the nanoparticle’s surface was [...]
The costly lesson from COVID: why elimination should be the default global strategy for future pandemics
Imagine it is 2030. Doctors in a regional hospital in country X note an expanding cluster of individuals with severe respiratory disease. Rapid whole-genome sequencing identifies the disease-causing agent as a novel coronavirus. Epidemiological [...]
A predictive model has been developed that enables researchers to encode instructions for cells to execute. Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and IBM Research have created a virtual library of thousands of “command sentences” [...]
It's "lights out" for antibiotic-resistant superbugs as next-generation light-activated nanotech proves it can eradicate some of the most notorious and potentially deadly bacteria in the world. Developed by the University of South Australia and [...]