Written by Ahaan Anand, a grade 9 student.
The Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 6 million people all over the world and with a barely evident solution in sight, doctors, scientists, researchers, and economists are beginning to worry. One of the big questions being asked today is whether our artificial intelligence systems are advanced enough to help us fight this Pandemic or not and if not, then how can we battle a virus which seems to have put more than half of humanity under lockdown!
Let’s start with what AI is and how it can be used
Artificial Intelligence is a field of study which is also commonly known as machine learning. It is the intelligence that is shown by machines in contrast to natural intelligence (which is Human and animal intelligence). Artificial intelligence is used on a large scale by companies to develop infrastructure in finance, education, health, etc. AI is being used today by all of us to make our lives easier and faster. It is used in robotics, analysis, management, etc. We use AI in our everyday life. Everything from security and surveillance to self-driving cars and medical imaging analysis can be termed as AI.
Let us now understand how AI can be used to help in healthcare
AI is being efficiently used in healthcare and is making a doctor’s work more progressive. Doctors in the US believe that AI can transform medicine and can also save doctors from doing tasks like taking notes and reading scans, allowing them to spend more time connecting with their patients (source: New York Times) An example of AI being used as a help for doctors is Google’s Cloud Healthcare application programming interface (API). AI used in Google Cloud takes data from users’ electronic health records through machine learning – creating insights for healthcare providers to make better clinical decisions. This also acts as a way to shorten the period of time for which patients are kept in hospitals (source: Business Insider).
Covid-19 and how AI might be the key to finding a vaccine
While doctors all over the world are working tirelessly to find a cure for this virus, there seems to be no evident solution to the crisis at hand. Doctors, researchers, and healthcare workers are beginning to worry. If there is not a vaccine to this virus, Covid-19 can potentially infect a large percentage of the world population and this will also severely limit the economic growth of societies and countries. Instead of relying completely on Human Intelligence, doctors and researchers think that if AI can help doctors in their calculations, data processing, and analysis, the cure might not be as far as it seems.
AI has been playing an important supporting role in this quest to find a vaccine by suggesting components of a vaccine by understanding viral protein structures and this has proven to be a great help to doctors and medical personnel. An example of how AI was used and will be used further to help doctors find a cure/ vaccine to the pandemic is Google DeepMind which introduced a system that predicts the 3D structure of a protein, based on its genetic sequence. In early March, the system was put to the test on Covid-19. DeepMind released protein structure predictions of several under-studied proteins associated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, to help the research community better understand the virus (source: Wired).
There will be a cure for this virus soon and while researchers and doctors all around the world are positive that the cure will only be completed with the support of artificial intelligence, we must remember that the cure is on its way. Once the vaccine is out, people will be more willing to step out of their houses and economic growth will pick up. People will be able to meet their families and friends again and things will go back to the way they were. It is only when humans resolve to put all our medical and technical resources together which includes new resources such as Artificial Intelligence and stand united and fearless in the face of this virus will we be able to overcome it. No matter the number of Pandemics that threaten to destroy the world, we will stand up against all of them and tackle them all with the power of our intellect and resources. Here’s a quote by Steve Jobs which proves the power of coming together: “Great things are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”
Stay safe. Stay united!
Written by Ahaan Anand, a grade 9 student of Modern School
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