AI not sci-fi: how technology is transforming crisis response

January 29th, 2021. By Cayden Tu '24

This report compiles one of the crucial uses of AI, helping the COVID-19 pandemic that is engulfing our world. AI has many achievements that have been overshadowed by other technological creations; however, now more than ever, AI is helping medical leaders in saving lives. Furthermore, this article goes deeper into a wondrous creation of technology that uses the online database to save lives with medical workers.

Artificial Intelligence, commonly known as AI, has been underrated as an impactful science. Many people associate AI with Alexa or Siri, maybe even killer robots that can think on their own in sci-fi movies. However, AI is much more than that. I realized the power of AI when I joined a program called Inspirit AI. This program gave me insight on creations of Artificial Intelligence that were both impactful to the world and possible to code. One of the main projects I completed was focused on natural disasters and creating an AI system that could analyze Twitter for possible environmental threats. By working on a system that could detect natural disasters twice as fast as government officials could, hundreds or even thousands of lives could be saved. This code could not be seen physically, but through the virtual world; it has the potential to save lives with the click of a button. This AI program has inspired me to learn more about this important topic crucial for creating a safer future for many Californians.

But enough about my experiences with AI, in the 21st century, AI has made a countless number of achievements. An essential Artificial Intelligence machine that is exceptionally important during the time is used by the NHS to shorten hospital stays of patients with COVID-19. The NHS is the UK’s National Health Service and they are using the power of AI to quickly diagnose patients. Furthermore, this system, being developed at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, has access to the NCCID, the National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database. This system then uses an algorithm that analyzes the NCCID images, assisting the doctors to create a quick and accurate diagnosis.

With doctors being able to identify COVID-19 in patients earlier, they are able to save many more lives. Additionally, patients do not have to stay in hospitals as long because doctors will know the severity of the COVID-19 case from the NCCID. Because this AI harnesses the power of the NCCID, it can compare different cases of COVID-19 and see what is the best treatment plan, or even if the patient does not seem to have a lung infected by COVID-19. Without AI, doctors would have to analyze patients for longer periods of time, instead of simply being able to compare lungs despite not having the COVID-19 test result yet. Many times, COVID patients come to the hospital too late, with the virus already having been in their body for weeks. Right when the doctor sees the patient, he does not have to waste any time and can intervene early, spending time creating a treatment plan. With one quick, precise analysis of the lung, the patient’s case can change entirely, having a positive outlook rather than a negative one. Overall, this AI system can aid everyone hurting during this pandemic, bringing patients back to their families quicker and saving many lives.

Finally, other than COVID-19 use, this AI system has further essential uses in the health industry. This system has created a world-wide AI platform that can identify health conditions through imaging. Moreover, this specific machine learning program can spot cancers and heart disease, both problems that require early detection in order to save lives. Despite this system being relatively new, there is so much potential in AI because of how much faster it can discover difficulties without the work of humans. From this article, many readers could research more about machine learning and all of its capabilities in this contemporary world.