Artificial intelligence, as it turned out, predicted an outbreak of the coronavirus in China in late December, nine days before the World Health Organization announced the problem. But mere mortals only now became aware of this. This is a Canadian startup Bluedot. He specializes just in predicting such events, writes Wired magazine. Bluedot was founded by infectious disease physician Kamran Khan, who battled an SARS outbreak in 2003 that killed 44 people in Toronto. Then Khan thought about a way to predict such phenomena, and five years later he launched his own company.
Now the neural network analyzes news messages in 65 languages, official resources, such as the websites of the Ministry of Health of different countries, statements of officials, forums, where, by the way, the algorithm pays attention not only to human diseases, but also to diseases of animals and plants. Interestingly, Bluedot does not monitor social media. The founder of the company says there is too much messy information, but he is studying data on flights from cities in which an outbreak is expected. So you can understand where it will spread. For example, in the case of the Wuhai coronavirus, Bluedot predicted that the next cases should be expected in Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo.
The startup has successfully predicted outbreaks several times in the past. They say about the Ebola epidemic in Africa and the Zika virus in South and Central America. In addition, the algorithm can predict whether it is safe for people to travel somewhere. For example, in 2016, the company's specialists confirmed that American athletes can safely participate in the Olympics in Brazil. The risk of contracting the Zika virus in major cities was low. The company submits its reports to the Ministry of Health of various countries, including the United States, Canada, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as airlines, hospitals, in which infected people may be.
In an interview, the founder of Bluedot hints in every possible way that his analytics would be useful to travel agencies, as well as big business, for example, Bloomberg and Nikkei report that the outbreak of coronavirus in China threatens Apple, Foxconn factory, which is located just 500 km from the epicenter and there is a danger of quarantine or interruptions in the supply of components. But for ordinary citizens, Bluedot forecasts are not available in any form. Even now, the company's website does not have any open data on possible scenarios for the development of the situation.