How AI Technology Will Prevent Pandemics: The Easy Guide
The discussions on how AI technology will prevent pandemics have become mainstream after the coronavirus crisis in 2020. This recent crisis has exposed many limitations to our modern lifestyle and challenged us to improve upon them quickly. Likewise, our existing resources and technologies have been unsuccessful to control and prevent this disaster. Similarly, more than 1 million people have died and we still have not been able to control the spread. Furthermore, hospitals are at maximum capacity and the number of healthcare workers is insufficient.
Artificial intelligence is one of the most versatile technologies that is finding applications in multiple fields and industries. Therefore, a lot of research and experiment has been devoted to how AI technology will prevent future pandemics. Some startups have already begun to develop working models to predict the spread and improve contact tracing. Most of the applications are focused on early identification of warning signs, surveillance of spread, contact tracing, and assistance to healthcare workers.
How AI Technology Will Prevent Pandemics
There is growing optimism that AI technology will prevent pandemics or at least assist us in prevention in the future. Before the coronavirus outbreak became significant, a Candian startup named BlueDot was able to spot the signs in Wuhan. Similarly, other startups have been able to design software that can detect infections. Furthermore, some researchers have been leveraging the power of AI to develop vaccines.
Let us discuss these contributions in more detail.
Early prediction is one of the common ways of how AI technology will prevent pandemics in the future. Through natural language processing techniques, AI can learn and analyze social media sentiments, news reports, and government briefings. With this knowledge, AI can predict the seriousness of the disease and the possibility of a full-blown outbreak. This is exactly what BlueDot did before reports started coming from local authorities at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
Digital Tracking of the Outbreak
Digital tracking of the outbreak can help contain the disease and prevent further spread. AI can analyze data coming from a wide range of sources and predict the possibility of infections in other places. For example, flight data from the epicentre of the outbreak can predict the next possible hotspots. Similarly, since the spread also depends on the nature of the climate, AI can learn about the places where the spread is favourable.
This allows governments and local authorities to prepare with healthcare resources if a serious outbreak occurs.
AI-assisted Diagnosis and Testing
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the limitations of available healthcare resources. The available manpower and technologies have been unable to prevent deaths even in countries with highly advanced facilities. By assisting in early diagnosis and testing, AI technology will prevent pandemics to spread uncontrollably. AI can help for medical imaging purposes which can be used to accelerate diagnosis and testing. Patients with possible warning signs can then be put in quarantine before the disease can spread.
Human Contact Minimization
There is a high possibility of spread in areas such as quarantine centres and hospitals. Since much of the spread is due to human contact, as with coronavirus, AI can be used to minimize this contact. Robots can be used to deliver food and medicine to highly infected patients. Similarly, as we prepare for a normal life after the coronavirus pandemic, we must consider the frequency of human to human interaction. There is a high possibility that robots will be used in restaurants and banking facilities for sterilization, cleanliness, and service delivery.
It is rightly said that information is the most precious resource in the 21st century. And during pandemics, it is even more important. Social media sites have been providing information about the status of the outbreak in a person’s local area. This allows people to be more conscious and follow preventive measures. Furthermore, they have been able to separate the fake news from credible information. All of this is powered by the use of AI and big data in the background.
The use of AI in vaccine development is projected to grow in the coming years. AI can be used to study the nature of the human immune system and its response to a wide range of remedies. This will allow researchers to virtually test a wide range of options and develop the best remedies. Although this will not be a quick fix, the assistance of data-driven models will be highly valuable.
Even though the signs are promising, using AI technology to prevent pandemics is not free of challenges. Some of the major challenges are:
- We do not yet have a system that can take all the factors into account while understanding the nature of the outbreak.
- Not all information shared on the internet is credible. It is difficult to separate the facts from the lies.
- Understanding the lifestyle of each and every person is impossible while predicting the possibility of spread.
- Diagnosis and medical records can be difficult to gather because of privacy laws.
- Imaging techniques cannot be relied upon completely because the symptoms can be hidden.
- We do not have enough information on the nature and evolution of viruses and bacteria. This will create a major challenge in developing vaccines.
In this blog, we have learned how AI technology will prevent pandemics. Similarly, we also understood where we stand currently and the challenges we may face.
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