Artificial intelligence to measure the risk

Leading authority on artificial intelligence in Québec, the scientific director of Mila Yoshua Bengio is working on an application that could be used to measure the risk in the time of a pandemic.

In concrete terms, the concept of the scientific director of the Institut québécois artificial intelligence proposes to use the geolocation to alert people who may be at risk of contamination.

“Mobile phones can allow us to exchange information between people who meet, how to send signals to people who have met people who, ultimately, have had symptoms or have tested positive to the COVID-19”, details Mr. Bengio.

According to him, such an initiative could “greatly reduce the spread of the virus”, since it would encourage people to isolate themselves a little more.

“Without compromising the privacy of individuals, [the data] could allow public health to better understand the disease and to evaluate different scenarios of déconfinement”, he says.

Yoshua Bengio is categorical, the protection of privacy is the central issue of any such project.

“There are authoritarian countries, such as China, where it has been imposed on applications like this, but this is something that really goes against our values,” he says.

To protect and keep the confidence of the users, Mr. Bengio explains that there are some techniques of cryptography to protect anonymity while sending information from one phone to another.

“It is very, very important because it is necessary that people have confidence. Because if there are not enough people who board there, the effectiveness of the system will be somewhat like the effectiveness of a vaccine, if there is just 10% or 20% of the population that is vaccinated”, illustrates the expert.

When a possible deployment of the technology? Much more quickly than one would imagine. According to Yoshua Bengio, he would that the approval of the governments, as the part necessary to install the application on phones is already at point.

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