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Artificial Intelligence

AI Consortium Funds 26 Pandemic Research Projects

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A new artificial intelligence consortium has funded 26 projects intended to advance the use of AI to mitigate COVID-19 and future pandemics. The Digital Transformation Institute is awarding cash totaling $5.4 million and access to AI software and cloud computing and storage to researchers at the University of Illinois, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, University of California, Berkeley, University of Chicago and Princeton. DTI is a research consortium focused on accelerating the benefits of AI for business, government and society. The recipients of the funding are all members of the consortium, alongside Microsoft,, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. produces enterprise AI software, which will be used by the grantees; Microsoft is providing Azure cloud computing and storage resources.

Among the projects funded are these:

  • Researchers at Carnegie Mellon, MIT and the Boston University School of Medicine received $275,000 to model how the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 affects the lungs. These models would be used to identify and develop combinations of drugs that hold the most promise for combating the virus.
  • Researchers at the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon received $250,000 to study AI and COVID-19 policy. Specifically, they're developing methods and tools to ensure that the AI and machine learning technologies developed to fight COVID-19 don't further the inequities experienced by racial minorities and other vulnerable populations when they're used to inform policy decisions.
  • Researchers at Princeton are developing a physical intervention system based on light projections that generates real-time information about safe trajectories and movement behavior for pedestrians.
  • MIT researchers are tackling approaches for reopening the economy by taking into account the role of different population groups in terms of their productivity and their risk levels.
  • Illinois researchers are developing algorithms and software tools for testing and controlling COVID-19.
  • A joint project at Berkeley and Princeton will study "housing precarity, eviction and inequality" wrought by the pandemic, by developing a system for tracking real-time eviction filings after the outbreak and developing a model to analyze the disproportionate risk of displacement.

"The enthusiastic response among scientists and researchers coupled with the diverse, high-quality and compelling proposals we've received suggests that we have the potential to alter the course of this global pandemic," said Thomas Siebel, CEO of, in a press release. "In the face of this crisis, the institute is proud to bring together the best and brightest minds and provide direction and leadership to support objective analysis and AI-based, data-driven science to mitigate COVID-19."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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