South Africa: Is Artificial Intelligence Another Weapon in the War Against COVID-19?

(file photo).
opinion

As countries around the world scrabble for ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus, one South African academic believes that AI should be added to the global arsenal.

I recently asked one of my doctoral students where, in this time of coronavirus, all the outspoken experts in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) had gone.

South Africa started out with three Covid-19 cases, then seven, then 13, then 16, and by 3 April we had 1505 people testing positive. AI can help to predict complex outcomes in many situations, so why then is so little use being made of AI to chart the path of the pandemic?

The student felt there were not enough positive cases in South Africa to build robust coronavirus AI models.

Although AI is not accurately predicting new cases because of a lack of data, it is contributing to other ways of dealing with the pandemic. For example, when the coronavirus emerged in China in December, images showing the use of technology were like something out of a science fiction movie.

In a video that went viral on social media in February, an elderly woman in China gazes up at a drone talking to her....

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