Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has donated $4 million in USD Coin (USDC) to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to support the development of a pandemic detection tool.
The capital, which is equivalent to approximately $5.3 million Australian dollars, is part of Buterin’s self-described “moonshot anti-COVID effort” dubbed Balvi Philanthropic Fund in collaboration with the Shiba Inu memecoin project (SHIB) and Crypto Relief.
The funds will further support the development of the OISNT-based EPIWATCH tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and open source data to create early pandemic warning signals.
Created by Raina MacIntyre, a Kirby Institute professor and head of Biosecurity Research, the tool scans millions of items of publicly available online data, including social media and news stories, to detect any changes that could indicate increasing health problems.
Buterin emphasized the importance of sharing data in a decentralized and open way to accelerate pandemic detection:
“Open analysis of public data is an excellent alternative to more intrusive forms of surveillance, which are also often available only to governments and other high bidders, but not to the public.”
In contrast, an open-source and open-access approach that allows researchers, including members of the public, to collaborate around the world can more easily be improved and scaled to detect new pandemics wherever they start,” he added.
Funding will be allocated to the new Shiba Inu Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) initiative led by UNSW’s Kirby Institute.
#Ethereum co-founder @VitalikButerin donated $5.3 million to UNSW in #cryptocurrency to support the development of a #pandemic detection tool designed by @KirbyInstitute‘s Prof Raina MacIntyre.https://t.co/aYYhI1iQwR pic.twitter.com/Gy0l1xejel
— Kirby Institute, UNSW (@KirbyInstitute) May 12, 2022
Professor MacIntyre said the idea was to make the tool accessible at a “basic level” and make sure it covers enough languages to reach “villages and small towns around the world”.
“Imagine if someone had discovered COVID-19 before it spread around the world – that’s our vision. Using AI and real-time open source data, EPIWATCH doesn’t rely on people to create reports. It’s a great equalizer and can overcome weak health systems and censorship.”
Earlier this month, the Balvi Balvi Filantropic Fund announced its first round of financial support for several projects and organizations building technology for COVID and pandemic prevention.
Related: Buterin: L2 transaction fee must be less than $0.05 to be ‘really acceptable’
There were a total of four recipients for the first round, including the open-source vaccine development RADVAC project, the Upper Room UVGI project working on UV lamps that “zap viruses to death,” Active IAQ’s air filter initiative, and the long-term COVID symptom study. from Patient Led .
The future of biodefense is decentralized, open, collaborative, and does not actually require an invasion of the livelihoods and freedoms of millions of people. But it does require dedicated smart people who are supported in their hard work to realize these technical solutions.
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) May 5, 2022