AI called up in coronavirus fight

To help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration is calling on the nation’s artificial intelligence and machine learning experts to help scientists tease insights out of the growing troves of scholarly research into the virus.

A machine-readable dataset of over 29,000 peer-reviewed articles, 13,000 of which are full text, has been compiled by partners in the initiative. Microsoft identified and gathered worldwide scientific efforts and results; the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative provided access to pre-publication content; while the National Library of Medicine opened access its content.  Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology helped coordinate the effort along with the Allen Institute for AI, which also transformed the content into machine-readable form, making the corpus ready for analysis and study, according to a White House statement. 

Updated daily, the CORD-19 dataset is available on the Allen Institute’s SemanticScholar, a site that uses AI-powered search to help researchers find relevant studies and machine learning tools that identify connections between papers.

The government is asking AI developers to use the CORD-19 dataset to build AI-based text- and data-mining tools that answer key questions and submit them to the Kaggle platform, where they can evaluated and tested by the data science community and made available to researchers around the world.  

“It’s difficult for people to manually go through more than 20,000 articles and synthesize their findings. Recent advances in technology can be helpful here,” said Kaggle founder and CEO Anthony Goldbloom. “We’re putting machine readable versions of these articles in front of our community of more than 4 million data scientists. Our hope is that AI can be used to help find answers to a key set of questions about COVID-19.”

Allen Institute CEO Oren Etzioni echoed that vision. “One of the most immediate and impactful applications of AI is in the ability to help scientists, academics, and technologists find the right information in a sea of scientific papers to move research faster,” he said.

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