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Russ Altman: Artificial intelligence takes on COVID-19

In this special COVID-19 edition, host becomes guest to discuss the ways artificial intelligence is tackling the biggest threat to public health in 100 years.

illustration of man at desk with covid outstide

From home, research into COVID-19 | iStock/wenjin chen

Days after COVID-19 broke out in the United States, Russ Altman and colleagues at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) scrambled to organize a full-day online conference to replace the in-person meeting they were planning for spring 2020.

Their topic: using AI to defeat the deadly new virus behind COVID-19 and, in particular, analyze how countries were responding; developing new ways of tracking and anticipating its spread; reshape the search for treatments and a vaccine; and, last but not least, to battling “infodemics” — the tendency for information overload to hinder scientific progress.

With thousands from around the world tuning in for the live event and 60,000-plus views of the recordings since, the conference illustrated in real terms how an entire field pivoted in a matter of weeks to address the pandemic in new and promising ways. In this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything, guest host Howard Wolf, Stanford’s vice president for alumni affairs and host of the Stanford Pathfinders podcast, turns the tables on Altman — a medical doctor, an expert in bioinformatics and the HAI associate director who helped lead the conference — and digs deep on AI’s response to COVID-19. Listen here. 

Watch a recording of HAI’s online conference: