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COVIDathon: Worldwide Blockchain and AI Communities Join in Hacking Over 100 Potential COVID-19 Solutions

The Decentralized Artificial Intelligence Alliance‘s recent COVIDathon online innovation contest recently announced its winners… selected from over 100 Blockchain and Artificial intelligence (AI) project proposals — and put forward by innovators over 10 weeks.

  • Over 1,100 participants from 99 countries registered for COVIDathon, DAIA’s 1st hackathon, aimed to leverage AI for social impact
  • Winners used blockchain and AI technologies in proposals including supply chain solution, disease monitoring app, displaying real-world uses for emerging technologies
  • Reach of +275,000 people, with the networks of 10+ partner organizations
  • Two of the winning teams are all-female teams.

The online competition, organized by Ocean Protocol and SingularityNET, was headlined as the world’s first decentralized AI hackathon which prodded the innovation communities in both the AI and Blockchain sectors — to develop tools, trilaterally supported by Medical, AI, and Blockchain experts in order to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hackathon was hosted on DevPost, officially started on April 1st 2020 and submissions closed on June 7th 2020. It featured four distinct tracks determined by medical and AI professionals advising the competition:

  1. Data Privacy and Sovereignty
  2. Medicine and Epidemiology
  3. Informational and Coping Tools
  4. Open Innovation

Judging for the winning projects was held by a panel of 16 experts in the fields of medicine, AI, blockchain, and research.

The hackathon ran for 68 days during which over 1,100 participants from 99 countries, the top countries being India, United States, and Canada, registered. At close, there were 100 submissions with over 3 hours of demos. The competition was supported by a wide network of organizations and institutions including SafePaths at MIT, Aragon, CryptoChicks and Enigma. With the networks of the 10+ partner organizations, COVIDathon was shared with over 275,000 people.

SingularityNET CEO Dr Ben Goertzel stated:

“The 1100+ AI and blockchain developers who dedicated their time and expertise to engage in the COVIDathon are irrefutable proof that the time for decentralized, privacy-preserving AI has come.”

“It was also exciting to see the diversity of the COVIDathon community, with participants from all over the globe and 2 of the winning teams being all-female. The dramatic success we’ve seen with the COVIDathon increases my optimism that the herculean task of rolling out decentralized AI to guide humanity toward a more democratic and beneficial future may actually be achievable!”

Projects were judged on their idea creativity and practicality, successful implementation of the solution, and the potential value and real-world impact the solution would have in the current pandemic and top proposals will go on to be leveraged by the medical community and governing bodies.

“With a hundred proposals from around the globe, I’m heartened to see the crypto-community working together to build tools and solutions that can help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. The range and quality of the proposals is particularly impressive, with many hitting specific needs identified by public health officials and epidemiologists,” remarks Ocean Founder Bruce Pon.

NTH Opinion Co-Founder and Cardiologist, Dr Roger Ng, MD stated:

“COVID-19 is the perfect invisible enemy, fully taking advantage of a system that operates with centralized decision making and moves too slowly. The COVIDathon community is the desperately-needed response of talented people with the unique development skills in AI and decentralized technologies to provide solutions.”

“We see this as the beginning of a much needed technological immune system for the healthcare industry to safeguard against the current SARS-COV-2 virus as well as new pandemics. Decentralizing technologies will be a mainstay to every aspect of medical care ranging from diagnosis, disease mapping, and vaccine discovery. In our new world under a decentralized threat, our ability to move fast and dissipate new outbreaks will be determined by how well we mount our own decentralized response.”

At the time of this release, COVID-19 infection numbers continue to rise, particularly as European countries begin to open their borders and US states relax their social distancing orders. Over 10 million people have been infected worldwide; nearly 5 million have recovered while 500K deaths have been reported. Contact tracing apps are failing to reach mass adoption in almost all countries where they have been launched because of privacy-related issues.

The winning projects used emerging technologies like blockchain, federated learning, and DAOs to address the Covid-19 pandemic, in the short-term, and possible future crises. The proposals were built with data security and privacy preservation in mind, demonstrating the efficiency of the bottom-up approach and open innovation.

Sentinel AI combines machine learning and blockchain to enable training machine learning models across many nodes. Rewards are based on the quality and quantity of data offered and the resulting improvement to existing models.

The Digital Volunteer platform enables people, businesses and government to work together to assist communities. The hub uses blockchain technology to facilitate easy payment and AI for matching and filterings needs & offers.

FACO offers early diagnosis and monitoring of diseases, like COVID-19. Leveraging AI technologies like federated learning, it can be adopted worldwide by healthcare practitioners to improve the accuracy of diagnostics in a privacy-preserving manner.

Decentralized Pandemic Reserve is a cross-technology solution that hosts an autonomous supply chain consortium that matches individual and manufacturer resources with the areas in most need, easing the stress placed on supply chains in times of global crisis.

Ocean Protocol pledged 1 Million native tokens for the hackathon winners to support their work against Covid-19. The pledge amount is currently valued at over $120K.

DAIA is a non-profit foundation founded in May 2018 by Ben Goertzel, Toufi Saliba and Simone’ Giacomelli to unite companies, nonprofits and labs working on systems and tools to decentralize and democratize access to and creation of Artificial Intelligence. Its membership currently counts 50+ companies from all over the world.

Ocean Protocol is a decentralized data exchange protocol to unlock data for AI, launched in 2017. Leveraging blockchain technology, Ocean Protocol connects data providers and consumers, allowing data to be shared while guaranteeing traceability, transparency, and trust for all stakeholders involved. It allows data owners to give value to and have control over their data assets without being locked-into any single marketplace.

SingularityNET is a full-stack AI solution powered by a decentralized protocol. SingularityNET’s core goal is to provide an intelligent fabric for AI algorithms to talk to each other — and in doing so, to provide both a teeming commercial marketplace for advanced AI solutions across vertical markets and the basis for the emergence of the world’s first true Artificial General Intelligence. The SingularityNET founders believe in open source and decentralized control, so that no single individual, corporation, or government will be able to dominate AI as it becomes increasingly more generally intelligent and capable. The project gathered the leading minds in machine learning and blockchain to democratize access to AI technology.

NTHOpinion is an online decentralized health and wellness platform to bring all aspects of healthcare and expertise to people on a global scale. Patients need realtime information regarding their conditions and real-world experience from specialists that can heal them. Medical opinions bring invaluable and lifesaving treatment options to patients where every second matters. In the era of blockchain and AI, we came together with a shared passion to use technology compassionately and, through healing, ensure AI technologies learn compassion as physicians and patients are empowered to solve and cure disease and suffering around the world.

Richard Kastelein
In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, the Netherlands where he has set down his anchor to raise a family and write. Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015) and director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He has written over 2500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published in Harvard Business Review, Venturebeat, Wired, The Guardian and a number of other publications. Kastelein has an Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China's first blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute software and Technology. He has over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission's SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government's Innovate UK division. Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology at over 50 events in 30+ cities.
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