University of Oulu

Su Z, McDonnell D, Bentley B, He J, Shi F, Cheshmehzangi A, Ahmad J, Jia P. Addressing Biodisaster X Threats With Artificial Intelligence and 6G Technologies: Literature Review and Critical Insights. J Med Internet Res 2021;23(5):e26109, URL:, DOI: 10.2196/26109

Addressing biodisaster X threats with artificial intelligence and 6G technologies : literature review and critical insights

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Author: Su, Zhaohui1; McDonnell, Dean2; Bentley, Barry L.3;
Organizations: 1Center on Smart and Connected Health Technologies, Mays Cancer Center, School of Nursing, UT Health San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, United States
2Department of Humanities, Institute of Technology Carlow, Carlow, Ireland
3Cardiff School of Technologies, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, United Kingdom
4Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Department of Research and Development, Shanghai United Imaging Intelligence, Shanghai, China
6Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China
7Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan
8Prime Institute of Public Health, Peshawar Medical College, Peshawar, Pakistan
9Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
10International Institute of Spatial Lifecourse Epidemiology, Hong Kong, China
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: JMIR Publications, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-07-12


Background: With advances in science and technology, biotechnology is becoming more accessible to people of all demographics. These advances inevitably hold the promise to improve personal and population well-being and welfare substantially. It is paradoxical that while greater access to biotechnology on a population level has many advantages, it may also increase the likelihood and frequency of biodisasters due to accidental or malicious use. Similar to “Disease X” (describing unknown naturally emerging pathogenic diseases with a pandemic potential), we term this unknown risk from biotechnologies “Biodisaster X.” To date, no studies have examined the potential role of information technologies in preventing and mitigating Biodisaster X.

Objective: This study aimed to explore (1) what Biodisaster X might entail and (2) solutions that use artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging 6G technologies to help monitor and manage Biodisaster X threats.

Methods: A review of the literature on applying AI and 6G technologies for monitoring and managing biodisasters was conducted on PubMed, using articles published from database inception through to November 16, 2020.

Results: Our findings show that Biodisaster X has the potential to upend lives and livelihoods and destroy economies, essentially posing a looming risk for civilizations worldwide. To shed light on Biodisaster X threats, we detailed effective AI and 6G-enabled strategies, ranging from natural language processing to deep learning–based image analysis to address issues ranging from early Biodisaster X detection (eg, identification of suspicious behaviors), remote design and development of pharmaceuticals (eg, treatment development), and public health interventions (eg, reactive shelter-at-home mandate enforcement), as well as disaster recovery (eg, sentiment analysis of social media posts to shed light on the public’s feelings and readiness for recovery building).

Conclusions: Biodisaster X is a looming but avoidable catastrophe. Considering the potential human and economic consequences Biodisaster X could cause, actions that can effectively monitor and manage Biodisaster X threats must be taken promptly and proactively. Rather than solely depending on overstretched professional attention of health experts and government officials, it is perhaps more cost-effective and practical to deploy technology-based solutions to prevent and control Biodisaster X threats. This study discusses what Biodisaster X could entail and emphasizes the importance of monitoring and managing Biodisaster X threats by AI techniques and 6G technologies. Future studies could explore how the convergence of AI and 6G systems may further advance the preparedness for high-impact, less likely events beyond Biodisaster X.

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Series: Journal of medical internet research
ISSN: 1439-4456
ISSN-E: 1438-8871
ISSN-L: 1439-4456
Volume: 23
Issue: 5
Article number: e26109
DOI: 10.2196/26109
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
Copyright information: © Zhaohui Su, Dean McDonnell, Barry L Bentley, Jiguang He, Feng Shi, Ali Cheshmehzangi, Junaid Ahmad, Peng Jia. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 25.05.2021. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.