Flattening the Curve with Artificial Intelligence

As most of the world tries to maintain six feet of distance, AI fights from the pandemic’s frontlines. After all, we needn’t concern ourselves with software succumbing to that type of virus.

Perhaps you’re familiar with a BDR, or Bomb Disarming Robot? Humans operate them well outside the blast zone. Why deploy flesh and bone when you can remotely control bots to discard hazardous explosives?

You see, algorithms are potent weapons in the global fight against contagion. And thanks to recent AI implementation — accelerated by a fast-spreading sickness — quarantined millions have a lowered chance of infection.

Last week, we explained how AI is better at gaming than any of us. But fun and games, unfortunately, can’t always be the center of attention. Today, we’ll explore how AI can help prevent epidemics from becoming full-blown pandemics.

Lightspeed Audio Screening

Wuhan, China — the city where the virus may have emerged — offers an ideal testing ground for AI-boosted tracing.

Image credit: Dmitry Zvolskiy via Pexels

Efforts to mitigate the spread saw Wuhan personnel making phone calls to assemble data models. Residents divulged symptomatic info such as body temperature and the presence of a cough.

Problem is, this system was reliant upon human operators. Now, we all know that — especially at day’s end as the body tires — people have tendencies of inaccuracy and inefficiency.

In other words, we can’t always rely on mortals to get the job done right. And in the case of manually dialed phone calls, operators max out at around 300 per day.

Let’s assume that Wuhan officials employed 1,000 highly trained screeners to place 300 daily calls. Since the city has over 11M people, that’s over 36 days of dialing. But a rapidly spreading disease doesn’t allow for such a time-drain.

And that, friends, is where AI comes to the rescue.

The challenge of getting anyone to answer the phone nowadays stunted outreach efforts. But the robots persevered nonetheless.

AI-enabled autodialers completed 1,200 screenings in 5 minutes — the same task a human operator might finish in 4 days.

Those five minutes also account for callbacks after failed first attempts. The smart audio screening system — launched by the charitable Ping An Insurance Group — has so far contacted over 580,000 residents. Of those, 1,600 were placed on a list of suspected cases and subsequently tracked.

While 580k represents only 5% of the city’s population, its significance lies in speed and efficiency. A machine that automatically categorizes and analyzes human conversation puts any community in a better position.

Utmost Sophistication

Ping An’s coronavirus software leverages on of AI’s most robust automations — Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Here’s a quick rundown of Ping An’s impressive tech:

  • Activates automated dialog according to programmed questions
  • Categorizes results for risk assessment
  • Understands the semantic (local dialect) meaning of conversations
  • Reports findings to epidemic management teams

As far as replicating human intelligence, AI has a long road ahead. However, in the battle against an agile, border-hopping enemy, AI is a powerful ally. Unlike the last time a global pandemic struck, we have robotic help with diagnosis, disinfection, tracking, and racing to find a cure.

And because enormous piles of C-19 data spawn every day, our AI soldiers are well-fed. The more data provided, the better our automated cohorts learn to identify — and overcome — problems.

Wrapping Up

Locally, though we’re nowhere near the ‘free and clear’ stage, RedFOX is fortunate to have chosen Vietnam as our global headquarters. Let this sink in: Vietnam borders China, yet because of a swift and concerted response, there’ve been no virus-related funerals.

Globally, the air of uncertainty hangs heavy. And, while most of us are on a time-out, we’re piecing together a solution for those seeking to join the digital economy. After all, people are turning online to go shopping now more than ever—we can’t let a virus get in the way of our mission to drive digital inclusion.

On our product release hotlist is a cashback and rewards ecommerce portal. We’re not only implementing AI to enable frictionless user onboarding, but livestreaming is also part of the package.

Things are very different now, and most likely, will never be the same again. But in the face of a global threat, we’re all very fortunate to have technology at our side. And no, although they certainly have their place, we’re not referring to meetings on Zoom.

Among the turmoil and uncertainty, it’s comforting to know that humanity has advanced the field of self-learning software. The current pandemic has proven just how unpredictable the world can be. And hopefully, the next time a similar situation arises, AI will have given us plenty of warning.

Stay safe out there, everyone!