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Bring on the bots: Artificial intelligence to the rescue in the fight against COVID-19

Published June 5, 2020

Written by: Beerud Sheth
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Beerud Sheth

Beerud Sheth is the founder and CEO of Gupshup, the world's leading messaging and bot platform, used by over 30K+ developers and handling nearly 4 billion messages per month.

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Since the onset of COVID-19, artificial intelligence, data science and machine learning have gone from time-saving to life-saving technologies. The fact is, they have rapidly emerged as powerful weapons in the fight against the pandemic. 

From accelerating testing capabilities to enforcing social distancing measures, these bots – formerly unsung heroes of AI – have suddenly taken on a significant role in altering the way we face pandemics. 

Here are some of the ways bots continue to play an essential role in the fight against COVID-19:

Self-Reporting and Diagnosis

Chatbots engage in one-on-one, natural conversations with consumers. A chatbot can inform the user about highly specific information, including cases reported in the neighborhood, designated hospitals in your area, local hotline information, and alerts from the city or county. 

Furthermore, chatbots can quickly assess symptoms and risk factors, advising an immediate course of action while urgently notifying authorities in the community.

Fact-Checking and Demystifying COVID-19 Hoaxes

Misinformation surrounding the origin of this virus has ranged from rumors about fake vaccines to conspiracy theories tied to false beliefs that 5G is somehow responsible. Bots and other nascent technologies provide users with the correct information and have debunked more than 4,000 COVID-19 hoaxes that have caused widespread fear and misled millions.

Lightening the Load for Healthcare Workers

The unprecedented acceleration of COVID-19 has drastically overwhelmed our healthcare systems. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are traditionally not equipped to handle such rapid and widespread emergencies. 

So today, healthcare professionals have been essential in identifying, tracking and preventing the virus’ spread. From forecasting outbreaks to patients self-reporting symptoms, bots are now especially necessary for hospital frontline workers. Bots alleviate the strain of seeing several patients at once by instantly differentiating those in critical condition from those with mild symptoms.

Lending a Hand to First Responders

AI has been a saving grace for firefighters, police officers and EMS medics, improving emergency response and buying more time to save lives. Beyond robots and drones entering high-risk areas so first responders can stay safely away, AI systems are increasingly being used in employee assistance and behavioral health. AI helps to identify workers on the front lines who are most at-risk for needing mental and emotional support based on red flags found in the data.

For law enforcement, bots traditionally used for crowd control at live events now send alerts whenever crowd densities are too high. Though not yet available in the U.S., bots are currently under consideration for implementation into video surveillance systems. They will let officers and other frontline workers enforce social distancing while staying out of harm’s way.

Looking Ahead

As the world faces new destructive challenges – be it a brush fire in California or a widespread viral epidemic – we must find out-of-the-box solutions to consistently keep all communications on track. 

Chatbots and artificial intelligence are the path forward for reliable information distribution. They remove needless stress on humans, shifting focus to efforts on search and rescue, food/resource deployment or whatever the often-dire circumstances may be. While they aren’t substitutes for human critical thinking and reasoning, chatbots and other digital operating models will be at the forefront of the recovery for many years to come. 

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