It’s crucial to predict the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic when a poor estimate could lead to overcrowded hospitals or extra-strict lockdowns. Facebook is betting that AI could help. It just published a paper outlining an AI technique it will use to forecast the spread of COVID-19 in counties across the whole US. The system predicts infections 14 days ahead by accounting for both the nature of the disease and the social factors that influence its reach.
Facebook factored in the new coronavirus’ inherent traits, but also trained its AI on time-based county case data as well as public, anonymized data that helped it account for elements like mobility and social distancing. The company also crafted a “neural autoregressive model” meant to separate regional and disease-specific elements of those data sets. A spike in one county could affect forecasts for nearby counties, for example.