NewsDio.com Staff : ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS here to save us from coronavirus. It spots new outbreaks, identifies people with fevers, diagnoses cases, prioritizes the patients most in need, reads the scientific literature, and is on its way to creating a cure.
As the world confronts the outbreak of coronavirus, many have lauded AI as our omniscient secret weapon. Although corporate press releases and some media coverage sing its praises, AI will play only a marginal role in our fight against Covid-19. While there are undoubtedly ways in which it will be helpful—and even more so in future pandemics—at the current moment, technologies like data reporting, telemedicine, and conventional diagnostic tools are far more impactful. So how can you avoid falling for the AI hype? In a recent Brookings Institution report, I identified the necessary heuristics for a healthy skepticism of AI claims around Covid-19.
Thankfully, in the case of Covid-19, epidemiologists know quite a bit about the context of the data. Even though the virus is new and there is much to be learned, there is tremendous depth of expertise around what questions to ask and how they can be answered. Modern statistical epidemiology dates to the early 1900s, which means the field is incorporating a century of scientific research into its analyses. In contrast, machine learning methods tend to assume that everything can be learned directly from a data set, without incorporating the broader scientific context.
Consider, for example, the claim that AI was the first to detect the coronavirus. Machine learning is very dependent on historical data to create meaningful insights. Since there is no database of prior Covid-19 outbreaks, AI alone cannot predict the spread of this new pandemic. What’s more, the claim implicitly overstates the ability of AI to inform us about huge and rare events, which is not the strength of AI at all. As it turns out, while software may have sounded the alarm, grasping the significance of the outbreak required human analysis.