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Harnessing AI Against Infectious Diseases: Insights from BlueDot's CEO

Harnessing AI Against Infectious Diseases: Insights from BlueDot's CEO


Four years ago this month, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. Fast forward to today, BlueDot stands out with its innovative approach to public health. Founded by Dr. Kamran Khan, an expert in infectious diseases, BlueDot's story starts with a simple but powerful idea: using AI technology to get ahead of disease outbreaks. It's about turning data into insights that can help keep us safe. 

This interview with BlueDot CEO Dr. Khan gives us a closer look at how BlueDot combines AI with vast amounts of data to alert us to health threats faster than ever before. With help from Cohere, they're even breaking down language barriers, making sure important health information is accessible to everyone. 

Let's dive in. 


Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.

Why is BlueDot Interested in AI?

Dr. Kamran Khan:  If we look at the last 14 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared seven global public health emergencies.

The world is changing in rapid ways, population growth, urbanization, disruption of wildlife ecosystems, climate change, and global travel. The influence of all these forces are driving the emergence of diseases and microbes that humanity has never encountered before.

This is where I'm excited about the opportunity to be collaborating with an organization like Cohere because it’s not just about accessing data, it's ultimately about delivering consumable insights at scale.

I'm the founder and CEO of BlueDot. I'm also a practicing infectious disease physician. I started to study outbreaks of emerging diseases and started to ask myself, are there ways that we could actually better detect these types of threats and anticipate how they would spread to different parts of the world. I thought about which places would be vulnerable to disruption and really started to lay the scientific foundation for a global early warning system for infectious diseases.

That was really the beginning of BlueDot. It is a global infectious disease intelligence company detecting early signals of outbreaks around the world.

How Is Data at the Center of the Solution?

Dr. Kamran Khan: We compile a diverse set of data to understand those outbreaks. A disease like zika has spread through mosquitoes. A disease like Ebola is spread from person to person. COVID is spread through the respiratory route from person to person. And so infectious diseases sound like one thing, but it's a very heterogeneous mix of different types of microbes and viruses.

We need a wide array of data from climate conditions to the presence of mosquitoes to transportation networks as more people are moving from one place to another. We bring all of these data together and that we generate insights that are actionable for governments. So they can better protect their citizens against health threats, economic threats, threats to the society and order in their communities.

How Important Is It to Have Multilingual Capabilities?

Dr. Kamran Khan: We're processing data in over 100 different languages because we have clients that are all over the world and we want to be able to deliver intelligence and insights to them in a way that is in their own language. 

One of our key goals was to democratize access to our data. We want a frictionless experience so they could literally talk to our platform and ask it questions. And in our business, it's critical that they're getting the right information as they're making really important decisions about lives. These are profound and often very time-sensitive decisions. 

What’s Been the Outcome of Working with Cohere?

Dr. Kamran Khan: With Cohere’s multilingual classifier and Rerank solution 97% of every natural language query is detecting the right API call.

This is opening up our data and insights to a much, much broader audience. Generative AI gives us the opportunity to produce insights in a scalable and consumable way to a diverse set of users. That's really the next frontier that we're excited about. 

To be on this path in this collaboration with Cohere, being faster, smarter and better coordinated is at the foundation of how we tackle this problem. And that's the promise of data analytics and artificial intelligence. We're excited about the potential for creating and disseminating insights faster than any outbreak can spread.

We really enjoyed the collaboration with Cohere. There's been a lot of enthusiasm about the open collaboration, the curiosity, the kind of CODIS discovery and solution. It's been a really great experience.

We're excited to be on this path with Cohere.

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