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A White House official takes temperatures ahead of a press briefing. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images.

The White House on Monday called on artificial intelligence experts to help the scientific community answer key questions about the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: Researchers and companies created a dataset of academic literature of more than 29,000 articles about the COVID-19 illness, the virus behind it and related pathogens. Now the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy wants experts to mine that data to quickly answer questions about the pandemic.

Details: Those questions are available on the Google-owned data machine learning community Kaggle. They include:

  • "What is known about transmission, incubation, and environmental stability?"
  • "What has been published about medical care?"
  • "What do we know about COVID-19 risk factors?"
  • "What do we know about non-pharmaceutical interventions?"

To source and compile the articles, OSTP got help from the Allen Institute for AI, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Microsoft, and the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

"It's difficult for people to manually go through more than 20,000 articles and synthesize their findings. Recent advances in technology can be helpful here. We're putting machine readable versions of these articles in front of our community of more than 4 million data scientists. Our hope is that AI can be used to help find answers to a key set of questions about COVID-19."
— Anthony Goldbloom, co-founder and CEO of Kaggle, in a statement

What's next: People can submit initial answers to the questions through April 16. There will be a second round of submissions, which may cover additional questions, running through June 16.

  • Kaggle will award $1,000 for the best answer to each question, as judged by a committee of subject matter experts. The winner can donate the prize to COVID-19 relief and research efforts or take it in cash.

The bottom line: The vast body of research around the novel coronavirus and related pathogens may be hiding answers to vital questions, and this effort is meant to find them, including by connecting dots that may otherwise go unconnected.

Go deeper

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.