Since the discovery of COVID-19 and its rapid rise to pandemic status, cutting-edge technologies have been deployed to help fight the deadly virus. Healthcare providers, researchers and other professionals are using artificial intelligence (AI), drones, robots and super computers — all powered by cloud computing — to save lives and beat back the virus.
The use of existing and emerging technologies often raises concerns about privacy. “Tracking entire populations to combat the pandemic now could open the doors to more invasive forms of government snooping later,” wrote Natasha Singer and Choe Sang-Hun in a late March New York Times article titled As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummet. As an example, during the mandatory lockdown in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, authorities tracked mobile phone data and determined about 40% of the population was moving around too much. The article argued that uses like this during pandemics may be necessary, but it’s critical to understand the long-term impact of eroding people’s right to privacy in a world increasingly augmented by digital technologies.
When authorities pivoted to fight the rapid escalation of coronavirus cases in Wuhan, China, many in the country’s technology industry put their products into action. SenseTime, for example, shifted its AI expertise to help tackle the challenges born from COVID-19.
“Technology companies in China, including ourselves, are deploying different solutions to minimize the spread of the virus, support the frontline medical staff and help everyday people get back to some level of normalcy,” a SenseTime spokesperson told The Forecast.
AI Helps Pinpoint Coronavirus Cases
In an effort to slow the spread of the illness in the hardest hit regions in China, SenseTime’s body temperature detection software uses AI to screen for potential coronavirus carriers in public spaces. Because fevers are one of the primary symptoms of COVID-19, SenseTime can detect elevated temperatures with infrared cameras and AI algorithms. Deployed in subways, schools and community centers in Beijing and beyond, the technology alerts staff to feverish patients, making screenings more efficient while also minimizing the risk of contagion.