Kamran Khan is the founder of BlueDot, an artificial intelligence algorithm that predicted the spread of the coronavirus on December 31.
The spread of the coronavirus emerged in the province of Wuhan, in China, has been compared in these weeks with the SARS epidemic. It’s still early for equivalencies. And it’s always a risk to do them. Emerged in 2003 also in the Asian country, the SARS quickly expanded to Hong Kong and from there jumped to other cities. Dissemination is difficult to predict. In 2003, one of the cities affected by the epidemic was Toronto. Kamran Khan was working there as an epidemiologist at the time.
Khan’s experience from the hospital was frustrating. In Toronto there were 44 deaths from the epidemic. As a result, this epidemiologist set out to create a method for predicting the spread of these epidemics. And now, with the spread of the coronavirus emerging in Wuhan province, their work has proven its fruits.
We’re going in chronological order. On January 6, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention alerted about the coronavirus for the first time. They had to spend three days, until 9 January, for WHO to issue a public statement. Several cases of pneumonia had been reported in the city of Wuhan, in the interior of China. They were considered due to exposure to live animals in a local seafood market.
Now you have to make a leap back in time for a few days. On December 31, the BlueDot health monitoring platform had already alerted the outbreak of this emergency. This algorithm, which gives name to the company founded and led by Khan, used artificial intelligence for this forecast.
Unraveling the spread of the coronavirus
BlueDot’s algorithm collects a huge variety and amount of data to launch its forecasts. System it is nourished with news in different languages , networks that monitor diseases in plants and animals or official announcements. It even collects information from blogs, which can be considered rumors.
A measure of truthfulness adapted to each type of information is applied to everything. However, the algorithm doesn’t use social media content, because it’s too confusing. Try to find sources of information that can bring more tangible value. For example, access airline ticket data. So he could foresee that the spread of the coronavirus would go from Wuhan to Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo.
Artificial intelligence is the shaker that gives the right importance to each of the data. Right now BlueDot, founded in 2014, has 40 employees and it has raised $ 9.4 billion in venture capital.
Images: vtpoly, BlueDot