Spanish Researchers Use Blockchain and AI to Flatten the Curve
IEEE members Juan Manuel Corchado and Javier Prieto lead the project
THE INSTITUTE In Salamanca, Spain, two academic institutions—the Institute of Biomedical Research of Salamanca and the University of Salamanca—and the nonprofit Artificial Intelligent Research Institute have teamed up to design a blockchain and AI-based app that predicts the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team is being led by IEEE Member Juan Manuel Corchado and IEEE Senior Member Javier Prieto. Corchado is director of the Bioinformatics, Intelligent Systems, and Educational Technology Research Group and Prieto is a senior researcher at the University of Salamanca.
The Institute asked the two about how the app works.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What problem are you trying to solve?
With our app we are trying to provide information gathered about the COVID-19 pandemic and the evolution of the virus. We are also trying to support medical professionals and government officials about decisions they need to make regarding the pandemic, including social distancing and quarantine measures.
What technologies are you using?
We are looking to use hybrid neuro-symbolic algorithms. These artificial intelligence systems incorporate both the neural networks used in deep learning and rules-based symbolic systems. The deep learning techniques will include symbolic approaches in order to increase the explainability of the models in human terms. To implement this approach, we will use the platform Deep Intelligence.
We are also using blockchain to ensure people are complying with social distancing mandates. Blockchain will allow us to create digital identities and issue licenses for tasks such as going to work or the supermarket. The licenses will include private keys to replace the paper certificates that the government has issued to citizens.
Explain how your projects works.
First, we are trying to find the main factors affecting the COVID-19 spread, which includes environmental factors, genetic profiles, and social factors.
Second, we are attempting to predict the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic according to patient information including genetic profiles, medical records, and medical treatments. This will support the decisions made by healthcare professionals.
Third, by providing people with an app, we are trying to guarantee that they are complying with social distancing and quarantine rules imposed by the government. By using blockchain, each user is associated to a digital identity and can sign in with a private key to access a certificate. The certificate is connected to a specific digital identity and will allow citizens to go grocery shopping or go to work.
Finally, we are trying to track the COVID-19 pandemic to predict future epidemics and pandemics. The team is monitoring microorganisms likely to trigger a future healthcare crisis. We are analyzing news outlets, scientific articles, and connecting different data sources to rapidly alert health authorities, not only related to COVID-19 but also to other viruses. [READ MORE]