AI could fight the spread of the Wuhan virus, but be warned


AI could fight the spread of the Wuhan virus, but be warned

Given the inherent bias and invasive nature of such tech, we might be moving too fast on health surveillance

Laurence Dodds and Ellie Zolfagharifard

Shanghai’s wet markets are heaving. Freshly slaughtered pork, live poultry and caged reptiles line dozens of stalls as shoppers pick the freshest ingredients for their new-year feasts. But, amid the bustle of China’s holiday trade, a deadly threat may be lurking.

This week, scientists blamed a wet market in Wuhan for the spread of a mysterious lung virus that has killed six people and infected hundreds. Known as 2019-nCov (, the coronavirus may have been transmitted to humans from animals, and scientists are now racing to see how quickly and where it will spread.

Artificial intelligence may be able to help, says Daniel Streicker, a life sciences researcher at Glasgow University. “AI can collect data on human movement from things like airline records, traffic information ... you can even imagine information collected through Google.”..

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