Ethereum founder gifts Aussie uni $5 million to establish pandemic warning tool

The founder of the world’s second largest cryptocurrency offered an Australian university more than $5 million to establish an online alert system for future pandemics.

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the Ethereum cryptocurrency, donated US$4 million (a form of cryptocurrency) to the University of New South Wales for the project, which basically converts to $5, $3 million.

It is believed to be the most well-known cryptocurrency donation to an Australian higher education institution.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has donated US$4 million to establish the Shiba Inu OSINT initiative, funded by his Balvi Filantropic Fund and led by UNSW’s Kirby Institute, to prevent future global pandemics. (Provided)

Dubbed the “Shiba Inu OSINT Initiative” – ​​after the dog breed made infamous by internet memes – the project is an open-source intelligence tool that works to detect early signs of a pandemic.

It works by analyzing millions of publicly available online data elements, such as social media and news reports, to detect early signals of outbreaks.

The tool will promote the development of EPIWATCH, a similar tool developed by Professor Raina MacIntyre of the UNSW Kirby Institute, to spot outbreaks much faster than official reports from national labs and doctors.

The EPIWATCH dashboard. It is an open source tool that analyzes public data to detect early signs of a pandemic. (Provided)

Professor MacIntyre said Buterin’s donation will help the team make the tool more accessible to low- and middle-income countries.

“Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world – that’s our view,” she said.

“Using AI and real-time open source data, EPIWATCH is not reliant on people reporting. It is a great equalizer and can overcome weak health systems and censorship.

“To be most effective, it must be accessible in local languages ​​and widely used locally in villages and small towns around the world. This will give us the best chance of preventing pandemics.

It is believed to be the largest cryptocurrency donation to an Australian university. (PAA)

Buterin said open source technology is about giving anyone access to data that is already publicly available.

“The sooner we can detect new outbreaks as they arise, the sooner we can start developing treatments or even stop them before they become large,” he said.

“Open analysis of public data is a great alternative to more intrusive forms of surveillance, which are often only available to governments and other higher bidders, but closed to the public.

“In contrast, an open-source, open-access approach that enables researchers, including members of the public, to work collaboratively across the world can be more easily enhanced and scaled to detect new pandemics wherever ‘they begin.”

Professor Raina MacIntyre
EPIWATCH is an open source intelligence tool (OSINT) developed by Professor Raina MacIntyre of the UNSW Kirby Institute to provide early warning signals in the event of a pandemic. (Australian Financial Review)

Vice-Chancellor and President of UNSW Sydney, Professor Attila Brungs, said technology has the power to avert a global crisis as we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are delighted to receive such generous support from the Balvi fund to establish the Shiba Inu OSINT initiative,” said Professor Brungs.

“We have seen the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world over the past two years. By making EPIWATCH accessible in low-income countries, the Shiba Inu OSINT initiative has the potential to avert future global crises. like pandemics.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to bring about meaningful social change and far better health outcomes, not just for people in these countries, but for everyone around the world.”

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