CLAIRE, the Confederation of Laboratories for AI Research in Europe, launched its COVID-19 initiative in March 2020 as the first wave of the pandemic hit the continent. Its objective is to coordinate volunteer efforts of its members to contribute to tackling the effects of the disease. The taskforce was able to quickly gather a group of about 150 researchers, scientists and experts in AI organized in seven topic groups: epidemiological data analysis, mobility data analysis, bioinformatics, medical imaging, social dynamics monitoring, robotics, and scheduling and resource management. Activities of these groups yielded multiple outcomes including a publicly released resource on COVID-19 related data for drug-repurposing; the development the COVID-19 Infodemic Observatory to track spread of misinformation in social media and tools for the diagnosis based on CT scans using High Performance Computing (HPC) platforms. The latter was the catalyst for establishing a partnership between CLAIRE, the Italian National Inter-University Consortium for Informatics (CINI) and the Associazione Big Data (ABD) to provide HPC-enabled AI technologies to our network members.
There is an interesting move underway to establish a pan-European AI research federation - a sort of decentralised CERN for AI. From their website: "CLAIRE is an initiative by the European AI community that seeks to strengthen European excellence in AI research and innovation. To achieve this, CLAIRE proposes the establishment of a pan-European Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe that achieves "brand recognition" similar to CERN." "The CLAIRE initiative aims to establish a pan-European network of Centres of Excellence in AI, strategically located throughout Europe, and a new, central facility with state-of-the-art, "Google-scale", CERN-like infrastructure – the CLAIRE Hub – that will promote new and existing talent and provide a focal point for exchange and interaction of researchers at all stages of their careers, across all areas of AI. The CLAIRE Hub will not be an elitist AI institute with permanent scientific staff, but an environment where Europe's brightest minds in AI meet and work for limited periods of time. This will increase the flow of knowledge among European researchers and back to their home institutions."
As part of its second anniversary activities, CLAIRE hosted a webinar presenting the progress and future plans of its COVID-19 taskforce. Entitled, "CLAIRE taskforce for AI and COVID-19: results and next steps", the webinar was conducted on 15 July 2020 with a focus on the three-month research outcomes in the areas of AI for bioinformatics, drug repurposing, and medical image analysis. "When the pandemic hit Europe, we immediately thought that we have to do something to support the European government and health institutions, with CLAIRE being the biggest community of AI experts in the world," said Emanuela Girardi, co-coordinator of CLAIRE COVID-19 taskforce in her introductory note during the event. Following the launch of CLAIRE's COVID-19 taskforce on 20 March 2020, more than 150 AI researchers throughout Europe collected and curated resources which aimed to leverage AI techniques in the context of COVID-19 and to support the development of new projects in several application areas. Under this taskforce, seven major groups were formed working on mobility and monitoring data analysis; bioinformatics; medical image analysis; social dynamics and networks monitoring; robotics; and scheduling & resource management.
In December 2020 we announced the launch of our focus series AI for Good: UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). Each month we pick a different sustainable development goal (SDG) and highlight work in that area. Following a terrific response to our first focus on "good health and well-being", we bring you the first of our monthly summary articles where we provide a brief overview of the topic and some highlights from the series. With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating our lives at the moment, research relating to the disease has rightly received considerable coverage in our focus series. In partnership with CLAIRE's COVID-19 taskforce initiative we have brought you articles covering the formation of the taskforce, and about some of the research from the participants.
CLAIRE is an initiative by the European AI community that seeks to strengthen European excellence in AI research and innovation. To achieve this, CLAIRE proposes the establishment of a pan-European Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe that achieves "brand recognition" similar to CERN. We believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will fundamentally change the way we live and work. It is also likely to become crucial in addressing society's grand challenges. In addition, AI is a global "game changer" that has become a major driver of innovation, future growth and competitiveness.