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AI for Good: CAPTRS Partners with The Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern University

By June 28, 2023No Comments

CAPTRS is thrilled to announce a partnership with The Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern University! CAPTRS is working with the Institute on a novel Artificial Intelligence for good project, which will focus on pandemic response.

The research team at the Institute, led by Dr. Samuel Scarpino and Dr. Kenneth Church, is developing generative AI models for infectious disease outbreak scenarios. These scenarios will be used by CAPTRS as they build the “Universe of Threats,” a project which will aid in global preparedness for future disease outbreaks. More specifically, the research team at Northeastern will fine-tune large language models capable of generating early-stage outbreak alerts and assigning risk scores associated with progression from local to global spread. Additionally, they will study how the text associated with pathogen alerts “evolves” over the course of an outbreak, and whether differences exist between epidemics and pandemics. 

“What we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is that many countries were unprepared for SARS-like viruses,” said Dr. Scarpino, Director of AI + Life Sciences in the Institute for Experiential AI and project lead from Northeastern University. “Most of those same countries remain unprepared. And not just for another respiratory disease pandemic. This joint project between CAPTRS and the Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern will help close the preparedness gap by developing generative AI for outbreak scenarios. At the Institute for Experiential AI, we’re excited to partner with CAPTRS around their Universe of Pathogen Threats and advance our capacity to leverage AI for pandemic prevention.”

CAPTRS is tackling the human failure of imagination as it pertains to threats by building a catalog of threat scenarios, called the “Universe of Threats,” using a combination of human creativity and AI storytelling. In May, CAPTRS launched the first of three threat scenario writing contests, focused on pathogen threats. Submissions have been received from writers, scientists, students and others across the globe. There will be two additional writing contests in 2023, focusing on threats to critical infrastructure and threats caused by natural disasters.

“This pilot project of creating the Universe of Threats will allow us to combine human creativity with artificial intelligence in a truly unique way,” said Phil Siegel, co-founder of CAPTRS. “The scenarios created through this project will be used by CAPTRS Chief Scientist for Gaming to train decision makers in responding to threats. I am not aware of any other program out there specifically targeting threat preparedness by integrating AI, human creativity, modeling and gaming. It is very exciting.”