Solidarity should be a core principle guiding the development of innovative and ethical AI applications to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the newly published article co-authored by World Health Organization, UNESCO, ITU and UN Global Pulse experts .
The article, AI cooperation to support the global response to COVID-19, published in Nature, explored more than 200 projects to propose a framework to categorize multidisciplinary AI research at three different scales: molecular, clinical, and societal (epidemiology and infodemics).
The article also examined data and model sharing for AI applications. It suggests that sharing pre-trained and validated AI models could accelerate the adaptation of solutions to local contexts. Models that could be widely applicable include those used to diagnose illness from imagery, predict patient outcomes, filter misinformation and disinformation based on spreading patterns through social networks, or distill knowledge graphs from large collections of scientific articles. The paper also notes that to reach a future of open AI models will require AI governance frameworks which take into account the ethical, social, clinical, legal, and commercial considerations.
According to the authors, the global fight against the COVID-19 infodemic should be treated as a scientific challenge on a par with the spread of the disease itself. AI methods can support audience analysis, accelerate fact checking and provide insights on the spread of hate speech and abuse.
The article highlights the need for greater cooperation between practitioners and the AI community for research and impact. While there is considerable interest in harnessing machine learning and AI tools in this effort, real global impact will require scalable approaches for data, model, and code sharing, as well as sustained cooperation and solidarity across borders.
Finally, the article also looks beyond hype concluding that the role of AI in providing meaningful solutions to the current pandemic has yet to be defined. However, it is reasonable to believe that the world will be more digital than ever in the post-coronavirus era, and that AI will increasingly become one of the driving forces shaping our society. In line with the UN Secretary-General’s commitment on Digital Cooperation, the article concludes with a call for multi-stakeholder collaboration and considering solidarity as a core principle guiding the development of innovative and ethical AI applications to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.