AI2 CEO Oren Etzioni discusses the risks and benefits of artificial intelligence. (TEDxSeattle Photo)

Neural Networks Linking Medical Information

Artificial intelligence often raises concerns about privacy, bias and errors in areas such as facial recognition, hiring and deepfake videos. But amidst the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, some technology companies and scientists are looking to AI for a positive impact instead. A story on reveals some of the ways AI will be helpful on the front lines of fighting the Covid-19 putbreak.

“AI and high tech in general have gotten something of a bad rap recently, but this crisis shows how AI can potentially do a world of good,” said Oren Etzioni, CEO of Seattle’s Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) and a University of Washington computer science professor.

Etzioni was speaking on a call Monday organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as part of an announcement of a project called the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, aka CORD-19.

The initiative, building on AI2’s Semantic Scholar project, uses natural language processing to analyze scientific papers about coronavirus, including the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The goal is to help researchers better analyze and understand a growing set of scholarly articles about coronavirus. As reported by GeekWire on Monday, the technology helps to combat information overload, making it easier for researchers find relevant studies. This could lead to new insights or approaches to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

By rapidly absorbing, sorting and applying so much information, medical studies and the like, to the most dense areas of the virus, the cure can be formulated almost as fast as the virus has spread.

The White House announced the initiative along with a coalition that includes AI2, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Microsoft Research, the National Library of Medicine, and Kaggle, the machine learning and data science community owned by Google.

“It’s really all-hands-on-deck on this,” said Eric Horvitz, Microsoft’s chief scientific officer, explaining the company’s motivation for participating. “People from our senior leadership on down to all of our folks deeply care about this issue. It’s an important issue for humankind worldwide.”

A vaccine has been developed and is being tested in Seattle. For more on that story, click here.

Geekwire has a podcast regarding the project to apply AI to the Coronavirus.