Microsoft is one of several big tech companies to join a White House effort that will use tech to aid the battle with Covid-19. Named the High Performance Computing Consortium, its aim is to aid medical researchers and healthcare providers.
To do so, tech giants are donating their compute time and software. The effort is led by IBM, but also includes AWS, Google, and HP. On the research side of things is MIT and Rensselaer Polytechnic Insitute, propped up by the US department of energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.
The effort marks a major collaboration between big tech and government, blending private and public in a manner rarely seen. A Whitehouse statement says the full capacity of the US' “world-class” supercomputers will be thrown at the problem to advance research for treatments and vaccines.
“Microsoft, as part of the AI for Health program, will provide grants to ensure additional access for researchers to our Azure cloud and high-performance computing capabilities,” said a spokesperson. “Our team of AI for Health data science experts, whose mission is to improve the health of people and communities worldwide, is also open to collaborations with COVID-19 researchers as they tackle this critical challenge.”
Meanwhile, Microsoft is also working with Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit to cut down on coronavirus misinformation and surface official resources. It has canceled its physical Build 2020 conference and provided Microsoft Teams to the UK's NHS for free.
Though cynics would say companies see coronavirus as an opportunity for positive press, the end result is positive either way. The lingering question is what other measures the US government is planning to implement, with 100 related deaths yesterday and only a third of states ordering citizens to stay at home.
A cure, according to researchers' best guess, could be more than a year away. The US appears to be doing its part to accelerate that effort, but it's unlikely anything will be done in time to prevent thousands of deaths in the country.