AI delivered early warning of China’s deadly coronavirus

The Wuhan coronavirus has already infected thousands of people around the world, with its death toll quickly approaching triple digits. Can AI prove to be a valuable tool in studying the spread of such illnesses?

According to a recent report from Wired, one AI analytics company said it first detected signs of a serious outbreak near Wuhan on Dec. 31, 2017, several days before the World Health Organization officially notified the public about the disease. That company, Toronto-based BlueDot, uses data from airline ticket sales and news reports to map the spread of infectious diseases.

“We know that governments may not be relied upon to provide information in a timely fashion,” said Kamran Khan, BlueDot’s founder and CEO, as quoted by Wired. “We can pick up news of possible outbreaks, little murmurs or forums or blogs of indications of some kind of unusual events going on.”

Khan worked as a hospital infectious disease specialist during the SARS epidemic in 2003, an experience that stayed with him as he launched BlueDot in 2014—and continues to stay on his mind now as he watches this new coronavirus spread.

“In 2003, I watched the virus overwhelm the city and cripple the hospital,” he said. “There was an enormous amount of mental and physical fatigue, and I thought, ‘Let’s not do this again.’”

Click below to read the full story from Wired: