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Interim evaluation of Google AI forecasting for COVID-19 compared with statistical forecasting by human intelligence in the first week

By Junko Kurita, Tamie Sugawara, Yasushi Ohkusa

Posted 18 Dec 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.16.20248358

BackgroundSince June, Google (Alphabet Inc.) has provided forecasting for COVID-19 outbreak by artificial intelligence (AI) in the USA. In Japan, they provided similar services from November, 2020. ObjectWe compared Google AI forecasting with a statistical model by human intelligence. MethodWe regressed the number of patients whose onset date was day t on the number of patients whose past onset date was 14 days prior, with information about traditional surveillance data for common pediatric infectious diseases including influenza, and prescription surveillance 7 days prior. We predicted the number of onset patients for 7 days, prospectively. Finally, we compared the result with Googles AI-produced forecast. We used the discrepancy rate to evaluate the precision of prediction: the sum of absolute differences between data and prediction divided by the aggregate of data. ResultsWe found Google prediction significantly negative correlated with the actual observed data, but our model slightly correlated but not significant. Moreover, discrepancy rate of Google prediction was 27.7% for the first week. The discrepancy rate of our model was only 3.47%. Discussion and ConclusionResults show Googles prediction has negatively correlated and greater difference with the data than our results. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that this result is tentative: the epidemic curve showing newly onset patients was not fixed.

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