Biotech & Health

With launch of COVID-19 data hub, the White House issues a ‘call to action’ for AI researchers

Comment

Image Credits: Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images / Getty Images

In a briefing on Monday, research leaders across tech, academia and the government joined the White House to announce an open data set full of scientific literature on the novel coronavirus. The COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, known as CORD-19, will also add relevant new research moving forward, compiling it into one centralized hub. The new data set is machine readable, making it easily parsed for machine learning purposes — a key advantage according to researchers involved in the ambitious project.

In a press conference, U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios called the new data set the “most extensive collection of machine readable coronavirus literature to date.” Kratsios characterized the project as a “call to action” for the AI community, which can employ machine learning techniques to surface unique insights in the body of data. To come up with guidance for researchers combing through the data, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine collaborated with the World Health Organization to come up with “high priority” questions about the coronavirus related to genetics, incubation, treatment, symptoms and prevention.

The partnership, announced today by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, brings together the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Microsoft Research, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Kaggle AI platform, owned by Google.

The database brings together nearly 30,000 scientific articles about the virus known as SARS-CoV-2. as well as related viruses in the broader coronavirus group. Around half of those articles make the full text available. Critically, the database will include pre-publication research from resources like medRxiv and bioRxiv, open access archives for pre-print health sciences and biology research.

“Sharing vital information across scientific and medical communities is key to accelerating our ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic,” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Head of Science Cori Bargmann said of the project.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative hopes that the global machine learning community will be able to help the science community connect the dots on some of the enduring mysteries about the novel coronavirus as scientists pursue knowledge around prevention, treatment and a vaccine.

For updates to the CORD-19 data set, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will track new research on a dedicated page on Meta, the research search engine the organization acquired in 2017.

The CORD-19 data set announcement is certain to roll out more smoothly than the White House’s last attempt at a coronavirus-related partnership with the tech industry. The White House came under criticism last week for President Trump’s announcement that Google would build a dedicated website for COVID-19 screening. In fact, the site was in development by Verily, Alphabet’s life science research group, and intended to serve California residents, beginning with San Mateo and Santa Clara County. (Alphabet is the parent company of Google.)

Alphabet’s Verily launches its California COVID-19 test screening site in a limited pilot

The site, now live, offers risk screening through an online questionnaire to direct high-risk individuals toward local mobile testing sites. At this time, the project has no plans for a nationwide rollout.

Google later clarified that the company is undertaking its own efforts to bring crucial COVID-19 information to users across its products, but that may have become conflated with Verily’s much more limited screening site rollout. On Twitter, Google’s comms team noted that Google is indeed working with the government on a website, but not one intended to screen potential COVID-19 patients or refer them to local testing sites.

In a partial clarification over the weekend, Vice President Pence, one of the Trump administration’s designated point people on the pandemic, indicated that the White House is “working with Google” but also “working with many other tech companies.” It’s not clear if that means a central site will indeed launch soon out of a White House collaboration with Silicon Valley, but Pence hinted that might be the case. If that centralized site will handle screening and testing location referral is not clear.

“Our best estimate… is that some point early in the week we will have a website that goes up,” Pence said.

More TechCrunch

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

OpenAI is removing one of the voices used by ChatGPT after users found that it sounded similar to Scarlett Johansson, the company announced on Monday. The voice, called Sky, is…

OpenAI to remove ChatGPT’s Scarlett Johansson-like voice

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine