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Many people have probably wondered if artificial intelligence (AI), with its amazing capacity for data analysis and prediction, could help stop the current pandemic. The main ideas gleaned from the original article are clear: there is a promising application of artificial intelligence that could be used to predict contagious diseases before they turn into major outbreaks. However, there’s also the reality that AI can’t singlehandedly halt a pandemic.

For artificial intelligence to forecast the proliferation of a disease, it primarily needs a vast amount of reliable data. And for AI to work effectively, the data must be relevant and up-to-date.

It’s comparable to a weather forecast. Just like meteorologists, AI needs accurate and real-time data to make predictions. It needs factors like symptoms, transmission rates, and the locations of the disease to create forecasts. Therefore, AI’s effectiveness in preventing the spread of diseases increases when human behaviors and local health conditions are precisely documented and reported.

AI is still in its early stages of development. Its predictions should not be seen as accurate all the time. You can think of it like a student learning a new chapter in class. The more homework the student does, the better they understand the topic. Similarly, the more relevant data that AI receives, the better its predictions will be.

However, not all collected data are accessible or usable. For example, health data are protected by privacy laws, and rightly so. To use such data, authorities must comply with privacy regulations that may restrict the use of personal health data. Furthermore, data from different countries may not be harmonized, meaning comparisons and conclusions may be skewed.

The spread of a disease is also affected by human actions. Just think about how our daily habits changed when we heard about COVID-19. We started wearing masks and practicing social distancing. These changes in behavior, which cannot be completely predicted by AI, can significantly impact the spread of a disease.

Again, just like a weather forecast, the accuracy of AI technology in disease prediction will increase over time. But no matter how effective AI gets at predicting and tackling contagious diseases, human judgment and actions will always be necessary. After all, AI is a tool, not a substitute for human action and decision-making.

To conclude, while there is potential for AI in disease prediction, there are several hurdles it must overcome to reach its full potential. Those include getting enough accurate, relevant, and accessible data and predicting human behaviors during a disease outbreak, among other things. But even if these difficulties are overcome, the use of AI should be complementary to human judgment and action. With the right usage and expectations, AI could indeed become a valuable tool for preventing outbreaks in the future.

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