Human-centric AI news and analysis

How Chinese tech giants are assisting in the battle against coronavirus with AI

The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China late last year, has become a global health hazard. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency with more than 14,500 registered cases across the world.

Many countries across the world have issued travel advisories, and some have even banned or restricted people traveling from China. With scientists working hard to find out a cure for this deadly virus, Chinese tech giants Baidu and Alibaba have opened up their gene sequencing AI tools to help them find a solution.

Alibaba said last week it had partnered with The Global Health Drug Discovery Institute from Beijing, to develop an open-sourced data platform to track coronavirus using AI. The company has also offered its tools to other institutes to speed up research on viral gene sequencing, protein screening, and other potential solutions for prevention. Currently, these tools will be available for labs working on the research.

[Read: Google’s new AI model ‘listens’ to killer whales to help protect the species]

Baidu, tech giant that operates the country’s largest search engine, also opened up LinearFold, its RNA prediction algorithm, to genetic testing agencies, epidemic prevention centers, and scientific research institutes around the world. 

The company said its algorithm reduced prediction time to study coronavirus‘s RNA secondary structure from 55 minutes to just 27 seconds:

This new tool significantly speeds up the prediction time of a virus’s RNA secondary structure, potentially providing the research community with the opportunity to better focus their efforts on developing a deeper understanding of the virus and aid in vaccine creation. As an example of Linearfold’s efficiency, Baidu’s AI scientists have already applied it to the coronavirus, reducing prediction time from 55 minutes to 27 seconds.

Other companies are also trying to help to control the outbreak. While Google has launched an SOS alert and information related to the virus directly in the search, Facebook and Instagram are actively scanning posts that spread misinformationChongqing VIP Information, a Chinese scientific journal database service, said on its website that it’s making research papers open to all during the epidemic

Published February 3, 2020 — 06:23 UTC

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