Mila’s scientific director, Yoshua Bengio,is working on an application that could be used to measure risk in times of pandemic.
Concretely, the concept of the Scientific Director of the Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence proposes to use geolocation to alert people who might be at risk.
“Mobile phones can allow us to exchange information between people who meet,so as to send signals to people who have met people who have finally had symptoms or who have [been declared]positive at COVID-19,” bengio explains.
He said such an initiative could “greatly reduce the spread of the virus,” as it would encourage people to isolate themselves a little more.
“Without compromising people’s privacy, [the data] could allow public health to better understand the disease and [to]assess different scenarios of deconfinment,” he says.
Yoshua Bengio is adamant, privacy is the central issue of any project of its kind.
“There are authoritarian countries, like China, where we’ve imposed applications like this, but it’s something that really goes against our values,” he says.
To protect and maintain the trust of users, Bengio Bengio explainsthat there are cryptography techniques to preserve anonymity while en sending information from one phone to another.
“It’s very, very important because people have to have confidence. Because if there aren’t enough people getting into it, the effectiveness of the system will be a bit like the effectiveness of a vaccine if there are just 10 or 20% of the population that is vaccinated,” illustrates the expert.
When will the technology be deployed? Much faster than you might imagine. According to Yoshua Bengio, it would only lack the approval of the governments since the part needed to install the application on the phones is already ready.