Before the Coronavirus, the artificial intelligence (AI), and particularly one of its branches known as Machine Learning (ML), was already making a lot of waves in almost every industry. The next wave of AI is even bigger.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of our personal and economic lives, but it has not diminished the impact of AI on our lives.
It turns out that self-learning algorithms and smart machines will play an important role in tackling the current epidemic, as well as other pandemics we may face in the future.
Artificial intelligence undoubtedly remains a key trend when it comes to choosing the technologies that will change the way we live, work and play in the near future. Here’s what can happen in 2021, when we focus on rebuilding our own lives and revising our current business strategies and priorities.
Smarter Big Data Analysis and Insights
During the pandemic, we see the urgent need to analyze and understand data related to the spread of viruses around the world. Governments, global health organizations, universities and industries have joined forces to develop new ways of collecting and using data. We are used to the fact that the newspapers report every evening the number of cases and deaths in our different countries and regions.
Technological advances are the main reasons why the pandemic has not killed as many people as, for example, the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed nearly 50 million people. From advances in medical technology and standards of care to advances in communication technologies that enable faster detection and fight against infections. During this year, artificial intelligence will be added to the list of technological advances that will allow us to face the pandemic more effectively.
The increase in scientific and medical literature is huge, with hundreds of thousands of articles already published. A dedicated search engine using natural language processing algorithms is now available so that anyone can already benefit from artificial intelligence when analyzing this huge set of data.
There is a lot of work also to develop artificial intelligence solutions to help dealing with the huge backlog in tackling other diseases, like cancer, which has been overlooked to fight the pandemic. This year, we are likely to see an accelerated deployment of artificial intelligence in many other areas of health, not just related to the fight against viruses. Developing machine learning skills will help us more easily detect epidemics, track contacts between infected people, diagnose and predict more precisely how the virus might evolve in the future, and develop more effective vaccines.
Automatic detection and prevention
We’ve already seen the use of drones to at least see if they can be used to monitor compliance with social distancing guidelines. More advanced applications are on the way, such as drones able to detect symptoms of COVID-19 in the crowds. These systems use a computer vision system to analyze data captured by drone cameras and inform authorities or local governments of the statistics and the likelihood of the virus spreading.
Facial recognition technology will also develop, also using the algorithms of the vision system. The technology is a bit more controversial because instead of detecting certain patterns, it focuses on identifying people.
It has been used by police to detect people in quarantine who violate the ban on leaving their homes and to track people with signs of infection.
It turns out that due to the health risk posed by the virus, the public has become more tolerant of such surveillance tactics that would once be considered unacceptable. This tolerance will be tested in the coming months as artificial intelligence scientists develop more advanced monitoring and enforcement techniques.
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our lives, our work and our entertainment. We have long seen the rise of digitization in virtually every aspect of our lives, but what happened in 2020 has exceeded all expectations. Amazon’s sales in Q2 2020 were up 40% from 2019, as even people who previously avoided shopping online were forced to change their approach. Tools and platforms are now available to help businesses understand how their customers are adapting to the new reality.
Companies that previously lagged behind in using the internet to sell and nurture customer relationships realized the gravity of the situation and quickly became familiar with concepts like behavioral analysis and personalization. In 2021, the tools that enable businesses to access this technology will become more mainstream as small and medium-sized businesses strive to strengthen their competitive advantage.
Prevention of future pandemics
Most AI algorithms focus on prediction, and the holy grail of AI-assisted epidemiology will be creating systems that can accurately predict when and where future outbreaks will occur. This research has been ongoing for some time, and some of the first alerts regarding the current outbreak have been generated by artificial intelligence.
We can expect that in the next 12 months, artificial intelligence research will bring new advancements that will increase our ability to detect and respond to the danger of an epidemic. However, for this to be successful will also require continued cooperation between governments and the private sector. Its evolution will most likely be influenced by global politics and legislators, as well as the direction of technological development. For this reason, issues such as access to medical data sets and obstacles to international information exchange will also be hot topics in the coming year.
Exporis AI Team