42 Network and AI vs COVID-19 Initiative

Meet the 42 Network students and alumni working on the AI vs COVID-19 Initiative:

What got you into this project?

Ivan Kozlov: I am a part of 42 AI & Robotics, so shortly after lab lockdown day Dan reached out to me with this idea.

Khloe Hou: While studying programming at 42, I’ve always been excited by opportunities to learn cutting edge technologies as well as contribute to projects that make a difference in the world. AI vs Covid-19 is a perfect combination of the two. It is using natural language processing and creating tools for biomedical researchers to understand connections among biomedical information. Coming into the project, I had experience studying reinforcement learning, google cloud platform, and robotics and my skills could be helpful to the team. Also, working with Google ML Experts combined with the 42 Global Network would be an awesome opportunity to grow and learn.

Uliana Popov: Towards the end of the piscine we were introduced to the robotics lab. I was really fascinated by the projects. Their quality and diversity. Since I was interested in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence for a while, when I heard that Dan (42 Silicon Valleyโ€™s head of AI and Robotics) was going to run a ML piscine, I knew at once that I really wanted to get in. Unfortunately, the piscine never started since the school closed mid March. But during a town hall for the school, one of the slides was a link to work on the AI vs COVID-19 initiative. I followed the link, submitted the form, and was extremely happy when I got accepted into the project.

Igor Popov: Dan Goncharov posted in our Slack announcement with the AI-vs-COVID description. It was at the beginning of pandemic, and some of students, like me, filled contact form. I was driven by the intention to have fun, because sitting at home and working on the usual stuff is not as inspiring as saving our planet ๐Ÿ™‚

What is your role in the project?

Ivan: We have collected a decent amount of articles(about 4 mil). I am responsible for maintaining the dataset. We are working on publishing it as a part of BigQuery Public Datasets. Also, the important part of our project is user friendly search. I was helping out with Elasticsearch integration with our data.

Khloe: I have been doing a wide variety of tasks. It depends on where the team needs me. All the tasks are equally important for machine learning purposes. And I’m very happy to dive into different areas that otherwise I would not have a chance to work on:  data mining, data processing, elastic search, C4, T5.

Ula: There are three main teams, parts of the project, – data mining, data processing and

machine learning. I’m part of the machine learning group.

Igor: I work as a machine learning engineer: doing some hypotheses testing in code, preparing reproductionable pipelines with model training and validation.

How did the coursework at 42 prepare you for this project?

Ivan: Docker.

Khloe: A real-life project is a lot like working through 42 projects. In this project, I’m often put in ambiguous situations where I need to learn whatever it takes to solve the problem and complete the task. 42 coursework helped prepare the skills that aid in those situations like dealing with ambiguity, learning how to learn, and building self-discipline. Now, working through any project I’m grateful for what I learned from 42.

Ula: It taught me to really appreciate high level languages ๐Ÿ™‚

Igor: 42 courses were really helpful from the point of view of basic CS skills – knowledge of git, fast code writing, algorithms complexity and other things.

What do you hope to get out of doing this project?

Ivan: Defeat COVID-19 so I can go see my friends and work at the lab. Also connections. We are working closely with GDE(Google developer experts), Stanford students, and biomed domain specialists.

Khloe: Personally, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the technologies I love and meet new people. I also hope that we can meet our goals with the project and it can contribute to the solution of curing Covid-19. It would be incredible to see this project make any sort of impact.

Ula: Real-life problem solving and development skills. To understand and be able to use and extend the state of the art machine learning models for natural language processing.

Igor: Three things: networking in the 42 SV community, ML skills boost, and fun.

What has been your biggest takeaway?

Khloe: The pandemic came unexpectedly, interrupting a normal social lifestyle. It is tragic that life is not what it used to be. For me, this was the first, impactful project I took during the lockdown. It kept me focused and hopeful. It reminds me how important it is to always have a purpose and a goal that helps me take control of tough times and look forward to the future. 

Ula: Although I joined the project just three weeks ago, I already learned a lot. I learn new things every day. I love it. Dan, our team leader, is very knowledgeable and passionate about this project. His expertise and enthusiasm is very inspiring. 

Igor: Learning a lot of the new knowledge for getting tasks done: Google Cloud platform, the Tensorflow framework, and the English language.

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published by Kim Alvarez โ€“ May 8, 2020