White House, big tech and research organizations appeal to AI researchers for coronavirus insights

A collaboration between government organizations, research institutes and major tech companies has launched a call for artificial intelligence experts interested in generating new insights into the coronavirus.

As of Monday, a collection of machine-readable literature on the coronavirus virus group is now freely available for review on the Allen Institute for AI’s SemanticScholar.org website. This growing dataset currently contains over 29,000 articles, including over 13,000 full-text articles.

The COVID-19 Open Research Dataset Initiative was commissioned by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and co-hosted by the Allen Institute for AI, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Microsoft, the National Library of Medicine, and Georgetown University Center for Safety and Security. Emerging Technology (CSET).

The project also provided a handful of “key science questions” to researchers, each of which was developed in coordination with a standing committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the World Health Organization. health. Each of them is available on Google Cloud’s Kaggle Platformwhere the initiative also asks researchers to upload their data mining tools and the insights they have generated.

“This valuable new resource is the result of selfless collaboration and now offers the opportunity to find answers to important questions about COVID-19,” said Dr. Dewey Murdick, director of data science at CSET, who has coordinated the effort, in a press release. of the White House. “Once the crisis passes, we hope this project will inspire new ways to use machine learning to advance scientific research.”


The COVID-19 pandemic is only gaining momentum, with Johns Hopkins University reports indicating today that confirmed cases of the virus have exceeded 200,000 worldwide. Researchers and policymakers are racing to make sense of the flood of data on new cases from around the world, or to derive new insights from past research into diseases in the coronavirus group.

With time running out, AI provides a way to sift through these vast datasets and act on any discoveries more quickly in the interest of public health.

“Everyone is on deck in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Microsoft Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Eric Horvitz said in a statement. “We must come together as businesses, governments and scientists and work to put our best technologies at the service of biomedicine, epidemiology, AI and other sciences. The COVID-19 Literature Resource and Challenge will spur efforts that can accelerate the path to solutions on COVID-19.


Over the past few years, stakeholders have leveraged AI and big data analytics to deliver new health treatments and discoveries, whether through drug discovery, concrete evidence, the diagnosis of rare diseases or a large-scale literature review.

The COVID-19 Open Research Dataset is also another example of large tech companies collaborating with governments and research organizations to fight COVID-19. So far, these efforts have focused on fight misinformationstreamlining testing and, according to some reports, use device location data to track exposure – all with varying levels of success.


“Decisive action by America’s science and technology enterprise is essential to prevent, detect, treat and develop solutions to COVID-19,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said in a statement. “The White House will continue to be a strong partner in this all-hands-on approach. We thank each institution for willingly lending its expertise and innovation to this collaborative effort, and call on the U.S. research community to put [AI] technologies to answer key scientific questions about the novel coronavirus. »

James G. Williams