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Source: Gomet Santé as of 05-04-2020

Gomet’  today publishes  a forum by Pierre Grand-Dufay. He  is interested  here  in  how countries  use  artificial  intelligence  in  their fight  against  coronavirus. His  observations drawn from  the  practices  of the countries of  Southeast  Asia appeal to Western countries, and the  French  in  particular. Very effective, these  technologies put individuals under observation, with  less  and   less limits…
 President  of the  investment fund Tertium, Pierre Grand-Dufay has  published  in  2018 The World of Tim, a fictional novelthat  tells the future life  assisted  by  AI

The coronavirus, named  “Covid-19” by the World Health Organization  (WHO), continues to spread  unevenly  from one continent to  another..  More than  one million cases of  infection  in 169 countries (out of 198 in total)  since the beginning of  the epidemic. More  than 60,000  dead  worldwide  including  6500  in France to  date  and the death toll  is rising  daily,the  dreaded   scenario  becoming  a  reality..  Yet,  while  the  current crisis of Covid-19  is  much more serious than that  celle  of  the previous  coronavirus, the  Sras, whichkilled  nearly  800  people  17  years ago, governments  now have to fight it from  artificial   intelligence  (AI),  this  new  tool with countless applications. .  The first demonstration of its effectiveness    came at the end  of  December  2019  when  a Canadian  artificial  intelligence, capable of sifting through  all  the  health information available on the Internet, in 65  languages, is a landmark,well  before  9  January  2020, when WHO officially  informed the general public that an grippal  influenza-like  epidemic  is occurring  from  Wuhan  in  China.

Taiwan, Singapore, China and South Korea… artificial intelligence is used at all levels of the fight against the epidemic

Pierre Grand-Dufay

However, there is a significant difference in approach and means regarding the use of new technologies between Southeast Asian countries (Taiwan, Singapore, China and South Korea) and the majority of Western countries. In these Asian countries, AI is used at all levels of epidemic control, from the detection of outbreaks of contagion to the search for treatments, to medical diagnosis.     In  China, the virus has plunged the world into science fiction: robots are used to disinfect rooms, communicate with isolated people, deliver drugs; drones spray disinfectant in public places and identify people who travel without wearing masks.      The same type of technology monitors social media posts to look for signs of the spread of the disease, track people complaining about their condition, and cross-reference this information with those related to transport by car, train or plane. The application called “Close Contact      Detector” is capable of alerting any user crossing the path of a potentially infected person.                HYPERLINK “” \t “_blank”    In support of the government’s obligation to wear protective masks in public, Baidu (Chinese Google) has announced that it wants to combine artificial intelligence with a new facial recognition system. This technology would be able to detect in the middle of a crowd whether a person is wearing a protective mask or not by analyzing more than 100,000 simultaneous images. With a displayed accuracy of 96.5%, this system aims to provide a state-of-the-art service to the Chinese authorities in order to identify the person or persons at fault.

The detection of fever, one of the main symptoms of Covid-19, is also revolutionized by artificial intelligence

Pierre Grand-Dufay

In China, some police officers are equipped with  augmented    reality headsets that display  a thermal image of passers-by, indicating their body temperature in real time. An algorithm developed by online retail giant Alibaba is capable of diagnosing     Covid-19    in just a few seconds with a 92% success rate, when doctors need about 15 minutes to make a diagnosis. The detection of fever, one of the main symptoms of Covid-19, is also revolutionized by AI. In Beijing, a system further developed by Baidu scans passengers in train stations by combining infrared and facial recognition. If a person’s temperature exceeds 37.3 degrees, an alarm goes off.                            

In Hong Kong, authorities have imposed the wearing of connected wristbands on anyone placed in quarantine with symptoms of the virus. These e-bracelets associated with the smartphone allow to geolocate target individuals in order to prevent them from leaving their homes.  Singapore has set up a mobile app that warns people who may have come into contact with someone who is carrying the virus, allowing them to check whether they have taken the same plane or train as infected people. Taiwan also tracks suspected cases in an extraordinarily accurate manner by locating phones and frequently ensuring the patient’s progress. Messages are sent to those who do not respect their quarantine and the tracer is directly connected to the police.

In South Korea, the personal data of patients is posted online and is available to the entire population.

Pierre Grand-Dufay

In South Korea, the personal data of patients is posted online and is available to the entire population. It is thus possible to check, in real time, where the carriers are and where they are moving. Those who have been infected for less than 24 hours are represented by a red dot, those that are contaminated from 24 hours to 4 days appear in yellow while those that have been contaminated for nine days are viewable in green.           

This tracking data is collected with video surveillance images, analysis of bank cards or phones of patients: if they refuse to share this information, recalcitrant patients face up to two years in prison!

It must be recognized that each of the countries cited seemed able to contain the epidemic, even when it had taken on large proportions as in China. The use of AI and new technologies has contributed greatly to this by demonstrating obvious effectiveness but at the cost of a significant renunciation of certain individual freedoms.

So it  is  legitimate to ask  why  France would not  use this type of technology in the  fight  against  such  a  pandemic. A  debate  that will necessarily have to take place  if  we  are  to  benefit  from  the efficiency of a modern country,   but  which  will hit the issue of the protection of  individual freedoms head-on.  .

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