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Langley man part of ‘moon shot’ for COVID-19 research

International initiative aims to create a reliable database of research material
Langley resident Daniel Lindenberger, founder of Banging Rocks VR, is communications coordinator for an all-volunteer international effort to build a database for COVID-19 researchers (Ellison Lindenberger/special to Langley Advance Times)

Right now, if a COVID-19 researcher does an online search to find out what his or her counterparts are doing, the results can include a lot of half-baked, unscientific material.

“It’s garbage in, garbage out,” is how Langley computer whiz Daniel Lindenberger sums it up.

Lindenberger, founder of Banging Rocks VR, has joined an international grassroots effort to build a reliable database of coronovirus material, working from his Walnut Grove home, where he has been self-quarantining.

In late March, he became communications coordinator for a world-wide all-volunteer effort launched by Los Angeles-based artificial intelligence (AI) expert Artur Kiulian that aims to use AI to filter data about the virus.

Initially, Kiulian was responding to a U.S. government call for a “machine readable” COVID-19 database, but the initiative quickly expanded beyond US borders, growing from one to 350 people in one week, with more than 800 now currently working on four areas; transmission, incubation, and environmental stability, risk factors, how geography affects virality; and vaccines and therapeutics.

A mission statement posted to notes “there are massive amounts of COVID-19 data, but pulling critical knowledge from that data and turning it into actionable intelligence is a momentous task. It’s easy for vital data to get missed, or for isolated teams to waste time on the same work. Public organizations are urgently calling for help to support current research.”

CoronaWhy aims to “take the most pressing questions, collect all relevant data, find answers and get them to those who can put them to best effect.”

READ ALSO: B.C. scientist one of many fighting coronavirus pandemic on dozens of fronts

“It’s an artificial intelligence search engine,” Lindenberger explained to the Langley Advance Times.

“It’s a better way to get the right information.”

READ ALSO: B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Lindenberger now helps manage over 800 people in 16 time zones at .

“They’re all making great strides,” he commented.

Among other things the initiative could lead to an intent browser plug-in that filters what Lindenberger described as “unreliable sites.”

“Instead of having to drink from a firehose of questionable material, you can get a coffee cup of the most accurate, relevant information.”

Ir’s an ambitious goal that Lindenberger likens to a “moon shot.”

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Dan Ferguson has worked for a variety of print and broadcast outlets in Canada and the U.S.
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