A new global coalition to help policymakers leverage AI against COVID-19



A caucus of think-tanks and UN agencies form the Collective and Augmented Intelligence Against Covid-19 (CAIAC) to guide COVID-19 decision-making with the help of AI and human expertise.

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A group of US-based think-tanks and UN agencies, on July 9, announced a coalition to support policymakers globally by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition called the Collective and Augmented Intelligence Against Covid-19 (CAIAC) aims to provide a platform that amalgamates AI technology and human expertise to guide decision-making in relation to COVID-19. 

The group aims to encourage research which is based on datasets from various societal facets - from health, social and economic - which are directly or indirectly connected to COVID-19, “to make sure we can actually make sense of this vast amount of data” being generated, according to Cyrus Hodes, chair of the AI Initiative at the nonprofit think tank the Future Society. The alliance bears its origins to the Global Data Access Framework, a UN initiative that uses big data and AI to achieve UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The coalition has declared three focus areas for the platform, especially relevant for multilateral organisations. 

  • Tracking and tracing of contagion chains via mobility data and artificial intelligence 
  • Identifying and addressing inaccurate information on COVID-19
  • Finding marginalised areas most affected by second and third-order pandemic impacts to deploy the appropriate interventions needed.

“We are basing this on pretty much all data sets that can be available,” Hodes said while being interviewed by the ZDNet.com. For instance, for the third use case -- helping marginalised communities -- the alliance could tap into mobility data and telco data, transaction data, or even satellite data. The group will try to “think outside the box,” he said. 

The CAIAC’s efforts are being led by the Future Society along with the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, with support from UNESCO and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. The CAIAC’s advisory board will include representation from UN agencies such as UNESCO and UN Global Pulse, a new initiative by the UN that attempts to “bring real-time monitoring and prediction to development and aid programs”. Private sector participants of CAIAC includes C3.ai, stability.ai, Element AI, Axis, GLG and Planet. 


Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay 

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