AI Research Consortium Launched to Help Address Global Pandemics

AI Research Consortium Launched to Help Address Global Pandemics

AI software provider C3.aiMicrosoft, and six universities have announced the launch of a research consortium dedicated to accelerating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to transform businesses, government, and society — with an initial focus on the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Over its first five years of operation, the Digital Transformation Institute ( DTI) will be funded with $57.25 million in cash from and $310 million in in-kind contributions from and Microsoft, including use of the C3 AI Suite and Microsoft Azure computing, storage, and technical resources. Members of the consortium, which will be jointly managed by the University of California, Berkeley and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, include Princeton University, the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCarnegie Mellon University, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC DTI's first call for proposals is focused on efforts to slow the global spread of coronavirus and advance the knowledge, science, and technologies needed to mitigate future pandemics using AI. Topics to be considered under the call include machine learning; modeling, simulation, and predictive analysis focused on understanding COVID-19 propagation and the efficacy of interventions; and broader efforts in biomedicine, infectious disease modeling, and response logistics and optimization. DTI will award grants ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 and provide computing resources to researchers, with priority given to teams that agree to publish their research in the public domain. 

"The Digital Transformation Institute, with its vision of cross-institutional and multidisciplinary collaboration, represents an exciting model to help accelerate innovation in this important new field of study," said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chancellor Robert J. Jones. "At this time of a global health crisis, the institute's initial research focus will be on applying AI to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic and to learn from it how to protect the world from future pandemics. DTI is an important addition to the world's fight against this disease and a powerful new resource in developing solutions to all societal challenges." 

"The Digital Transformation Institute is a consortium of leading scientists, researchers, innovators, and executives from academia and industry, joining forces to accelerate the social and economic benefits of digital transformation," said founder and CEO Thomas M. Siebel. "We have the opportunity through public-private partnership to change the course of a global pandemic. I cannot imagine a more important use of AI."

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