Vitalik Buterin, the Ethereum co-founder, has donated USDC$4M to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia.
The hope is to prevent global pandemics using UNSW’s open-source artificial intelligence tool that will give alerts for pandemic early warning signals. The donation was funded by Buterin’s Balvi Filantropic Fund.
Buterin’s crypto gift will support the further development of EPIWATCH. It is an open-source intelligence (OSINT) tool, developed by Professor Raina MacIntyre. The tool works by scanning millions of publicly available online items, like breaking news stories and social media platforms, looking for early signals of epidemics. It detects changes to ‘normal’ reports about health concerns. This is much quicker than waiting for information via doctors and laboratories. The early warnings can be then formally investigated by health authorities.
Prof. MacIntyre said, “Imagine if someone had detected COVID-19 before it spread around the world – that is our vision. Using AI and real-time open-source data, EPIWATCH does not depend on people making reports. It is a great equalizer and can overcome weak health systems and censorship. To be most effective, it needs to be accessible in local languages and used widely at the grassroots level down to villages and small towns around the world. This will give us the best prospect of preventing pandemics.”
Vitalike Buterin and Crypto Donations
Buterin said, “The earlier we can detect new epidemics as they come, the more quickly we can start developing treatments or even stop them before they become large. Open analysis of public data is an excellent alternative to more intrusive forms of monitoring, which are also often only available to governments and other high bidders but closed to the public. By contrast, an open-source and open-access approach that allows researchers, including members of the public, to work collaboratively across the world and can be more easily improved and scaled to detect new pandemics wherever they begin.”
The donation from the Balvi Filantropic Fund is UNSW’s first crypto gift. It is also thought to be the largest crypto gift given to an Australian higher education institution.
Buterin is known for his generous philanthropic contributions. He has donated to the India Crypto Relief Fund to improve the COVID response in India. And he has supported Ukrainian relief, among other causes.
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