White House seeks tech companies’ AI to combat coronavirus outbreak

White House officials met Wednesday with U.S. technology industry officials to discuss tech-related response efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak and ways for government to collaborate with the private sector.

COVID-19 has killed about 30 people in the United States and infected more than 1,000 Americans and over 115,000 people globally at the time of writing.Recommended VideosPowered by AnyClipCoronavirus: UK is ‘2 to 3 weeks’ behind Italy, says disease control expertPauseUnmuteDuration 2:54Toggle Close Captions/Current Time 0:17Loaded: 13.89% FullscreenUp Next

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios discussed the planned release of a new database of full-text coronavirus-related scholarly literature and urged tech firms to use tools like artificial intelligence “to help medical researchers glean scientific insights from this collection of articles,” the White House said.

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“Cutting edge technology companies and major online platforms will play a critical role in this all-hands-on-deck effort,” he said.

The companies taking part — by teleconference — included Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Twitter, the White House said. Numerous U.S. health and other federal agencies also participated, either in person or by teleconference.

Other topics discussed at the meeting included increased coordination to improve information-sharing, identification of best practices to root out misinformation, and the tech community’s efforts around remote work and telehealth, the White House said.

White House officials are meeting members from the airline, financial, and health care industries to discuss ways to contain the impact from the spread of the virus.

But those efforts stand in contrast to the White House ordering federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified — an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion.

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On Tuesday, the White House and Congress discussed measures to bolster the U.S. economy and protect Americans’ paychecks from the outbreak’s impact, prompting a rebound in hard-hit stock markets.

Lawyers for the U.S. government have asked a federal judge to grant the Pentagon “120 days to reconsider certain aspects of the challenged agency decision,” the DoD said in a filing to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims late on Thursday.

“DoD does not intend to conduct discussions with offerors or to accept proposal revisions with respect to any aspect of the solicitation other than price scenario,” according to the filing.

The Pentagon also said it wanted to re-evaluate parts of the bidders’ price proposals and online marketplaces.

“We are pleased that the DoD has acknowledged ‘substantial and legitimate’ issues that affected the JEDI award decision, and that corrective action is necessary,” a spokesman for Amazon’a cloud computing unit said in an emailed statement.

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The e-commerce giant has alleged that Trump exerted “improper pressure” and bias that led the DoD to award the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract to Microsoft.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper previously denied there was bias and said the Pentagon made its choice fairly and freely without external influence.

A Microsoft spokesman said the Pentagon made the right decision when they awarded the contract.

“However, we support their decision to reconsider a small number of factors as it is likely the fastest way to resolve all issues and quickly provide the needed modern technology to people across our armed forces,” he said.

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