The world has been in an apocalyptic shock from COVID-19 these past few weeks and months, and unless you are on a remote island by yourself, no one is entirely safe from its incredulous reach. Terms like social distancing, flattening the curve, and mitigation have now entered into our daily consciousness. Our editorial team at AIMed pivoted into this health care crisis to explore how AI will be necessary to neutralize this formidable yet silent enemy.

The main focus of our current issue is on how AI can be a real force to mitigate the damages in the COVID-19 pandemic. I contributed a primer on how AI, coupled with public health measures, can be instrumental in eradicating future pandemics. Hazel Tang follows this introduction by looking at how technology organizations and companies are leveraging technology in the battle against pandemics. She also elaborates on how a global health crisis becomes a trust test with focus on BlueDot as well as the NHS. Shantanu Nigam of Jvion describes how the Covid Community Vulnerability Map utilizes health data to provide valuable insights into pandemics. Additional insightful pieces from Naila Siddiqui, Patty Mechael, and Ioannis Kakadiaris add even more substance to this special section. We always value the patient perspective and we are fortunate to have a parent of a patient, Paula Collins, provide this perspective for us in this issue. Finally, Dr. Matthieu Komorowski, an adult intensive care physician who has been faculty of AIMed, contributes a most touching personal perspective from the front line of this pandemic. The balance of the issue is focused on AI in a myriad of interesting venues: Sharief Taraman (AI and neurology); Mark Hoffman (AI and extended reality); Glenn Haploid (AI and virtual reality); These are all dedicated pioneers of adopting AI in their respective areas. A more in-depth focus on AI and cardiology features Dave Albert of Alivecor, Louise Sun of the Ottawa Heart Institute, Francisco Lopez-Jimenez of the Mayo Clinic, and David Axelrod and Josh Kurtz, on AI and the virtual heart. Finally, a legal article by Sara Gerke focuses on algorithms and regulatory issues. As usual, updates on AI initiatives in various countries are provided.

We have several interviews of a few movers and shakers in the AI in the health care domain. Dr. Sonia Gupta, a young radiologist and AI enthusiast, is a shining example of our future clinicians embracing this resource. In addition, Dr. Tony Young, the chief innovation officer of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, has been an ardent supporter of AI adoption since its early stages. Albert Camus writes that “one must imagine Sisyphus happy” in the pyrrhic fight against a formidable enemy like the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The protagonist in Camus’ The Plague, Dr. Bernard Rieux, devoted himself to active defiance and fatalism by resisting the plague and reducing the suffering of those around him towards an ethos of solidarity. We must emulate him and do the same during this very difficult time, but we humans cannot combat emerging viruses now or in the future by ourselves. We need to implement effective public health strategies immediately and concomitantly recruit data science and artificial intelligence as our partner in this long and complex war against viruses to emerge in the future. In the spirit of resilience, we at AIMed will be reconfiguring our long list of meetings the remainder of this year so that we can still fulfill the very important agenda of artificial intelligence, which is more important than ever before. With all due respect to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s often-quoted warning (“the virus determines the timeline”), I believe that we must leverage AI to determine the timeline ourselves.

This issue is especially dedicated to the front line health care workers of this viral attack and its many victims stricken down by this menacing infection. “This issue is especially dedicated to the front line health care workers of this viral attack and its many victims stricken down by this menacing infection.”

Anthony Chang, MD, MBA, MPH, MS
Founder, AIMed
Chief Intelligence and Innovation Officer
Medical Director, The Sharon Disney Lund
Medical Intelligence and Innovation Institute (mi3)
Children’s Hospital of Orange County

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June 2020 — September 2020