Alibaba Cloud offers free access to its AI tools to help fight the coronavirus

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s cloud computing arm Alibaba Cloud is making several of its artificial intelligence-powered technologies available for free to medical professionals and researchers to help them fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The tools can help medical professionals by speeding up diagnosis of the disease and by providing more data-based insights, the company said.

The idea is to support medical professionals across the world through a suite of applications developed by Alibaba Cloud’s research subsidiary DAMO Academy, plus engineers from its communications platform DingTalk. The tools were developed to help Chinese medical professionals during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus, Alibaba said.

The DingTalk platform, which is similar to something like Microsoft Teams or Slack, was used by more than 120 million Chinese students during the height of the outbreak there to attend online classes. Now, the service is launching an International Medical Expert Communication Platform on Alibaba Cloud, providing free communications to medical workers across the world, the company said

Alibaba Cloud said it’s trying to help foster a “virtual community” using its video conferencing and real-time AI-based translation tools, so doctors from China can share their experiences and answer questions from others who’re tackling the outbreak in their own countries.

DAMO Academy is also making three AI-based applications available to medical professionals and researchers on a trial basis.

Those include Alibaba Cloud’s CT Image Analytics service, which is said to help boost the accuracy and speed of testing for the disease. Alibaba has created a model that runs on deep learning algorithms trained on data from China, that enables professionals to predict the probability that a patient might develop pneumonia-type symptoms. The system can also compute how severe those symptoms are likely to be, Alibaba said.

Meanwhile, DAMO Academy’s Epidemic Prediction tool can be used to map the characteristics of the coronavirus epidemic on a localized basis by generating estimates of its size and duration. It can also be used to forecast how quickly the virus might spread under different conditions.

Finally, Alibaba Cloud is offering up a Genome Sequencing diagnostic tool, which can help with viral genetic data screening, protein structure analysis and diagnostic reporting.

In other news today, Microsoft Corp. said it’s going to continue providing security updates to some versions of its Windows 10 operating system for six months longer than initially planned.

Microsoft Windows 10 version 1709’s planned end of support cut off data is April 14. But the company is now pushing that date back to Oct. 13 for Enterprise, Education and IoT versions of the OS, citing the impact of the “public health situation.”

“We have been evaluating the public health situation and understand the impact this is having on many of our customers,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “To help ease one of the many burdens IT teams are facing, based on customer feedback, we are going to delay the scheduled end of service date for the Enterprise, Education and IoT Enterprise editions of Windows 10, version 1709. This means devices will receive monthly security updates only from May to October. The final security update for these editions of Windows 10, version 1709 will be released on Oct. 13, 2020, instead of April 14, 2020.”

Support for Windows 10 1709 Home, Pro, Pro Education and Pro Workstations Editions previously ended on April 9, 2019.

Photo: Qimono/Pixabay

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