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Flu season reliably arrives around this time every year — but where the virus heads and how it will spread can seem wildly unpredictable. Now, artificial intelligence is playing a bigger role in trying to change that.

One startup is using data collected from thermometers to develop algorithms to derive insights about flu activity that it could sell to retailers, consumer-goods makers, and perhaps even health systems. Academic researchers are refining sophisticated AI models, including using machine learning and statistical methods to recognize patterns and map out future trajectories.

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