AI community snaps into action for coronavirus response

AI experts are being tasked with addressing the new coronavirus pandemic, with the larger scientific and technology communities coming together with new resources. The role of machine learning and AI could rise as researchers look for ways to easily synthesize huge amounts of literature about COVID-19.

The White House specifically called on AI experts to develop new text and data mining techniques to help the science community answer crucial questions about COVID-19. The White House issued specific scientific questions related to the virus to narrow its call to action.

The White House also announced the release of a machine-readable coronavirus literature collection, consisting of more than 29,000 articles, 13,000 of which have full text. The information is available for data and text mining, the White House said.

The dataset, the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), contains scholarly literature about COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and the coronavirus group, and was released by researchers and leaders from the Allen Institute for AI, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), Microsoft, and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health, which all collaborated to publish the content. It was requested by the White House Office of Science and technology Policy.

“Decisive action from America’s science and technology enterprise is critical to prevent, detect, treat and develop solutions to COVID-19,” Michael Kratsios, U.S. chief technology officer at the White House, said in a statement. “The White House will continue to be a strong partner in this all hands-on-deck approach. We thank each institution for voluntarily lending its expertise and innovation to this collaborative effort, and call on the United States research community to put artificial intelligence technologies to work in answering key scientific questions about the novel Coronavirus.”

With the available data on the Allen Institute’s website, AI partners could help scientists deal with the pandemic. Researchers can submit text and data mining tools and insights as they are developed through the Kaggle platform, which is a Google Cloud-owned machine learning and data science community.

“It’s all-hands on deck as we face the COVID-19 pandemic,” Eric Horvitz, chief scientific officer at Microsoft, said in a statement. “We need to come together as companies, governments, and scientists and work to bring our best technologies to bear across biomedicine, epidemiology, AI, and other sciences. The COVID-19 literature resource and challenge will stimulate efforts that can accelerate the path to solutions on COVID-19.”