jerryking + pandemics   51

Startup Funding Dwindles Due to Coronavirus Slowdown
25 Mar 2020 | Wall Street Journal | by Angus Loten.

Early-stage funding for startups is drying up as the coronavirus outbreak puts investors on edge, spelling trouble for large corporations looki...
acquihires  angels  automation  Big_Tech  corporate_investors  COVID-19  early-stage  economic_downturn  Fortune_500  funding  investors  large_companies  layoffs  pandemics  start_ups  valuations  viruses  from notes
4 days ago by jerryking
Big Trouble for the Performing Arts
26 Mar 2020 | Wall Street Journal | by Terry Teachout.

Of all the bad tidings brought by the coronavirus, here's the scariest piece of news for lovers of the performing arts: The Metropolitan Op...
Broadway  cinema  COVID-19  financial_crises  hard_times  layoffs  lockdown  New_York_City  nightclubs  operas  orchestras_&_symphonies  pandemics  performing_arts  Terry_Teachout  theater  viruses  from notes
4 days ago by jerryking
Opinion: Canada must be ready for the mayhem Trump’s about to unleash
March 25, 2020 | The Globe and Mail | by GARY MASON, NATIONAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST.

Donald Trump’s short-sighted and bungled handling of the COVID-19 pandemic began before the virus took hold in his country. Two years earlier, Luciana Borio, the president’s biodefense preparedness advisor, warned that a flu pandemic – not a 9/11 redux – was the country’s No. 1 health security threat. As the director of medical and biodefence preparedness at the National Security Council, Borio said the country wasn’t nearly ready to confront such a lethal outbreak if it was to occur. The White House’s response as to dismantle the NSC’s global health security office shortly thereafter......President Chaos is promising to begin ramping down social distancing by Apr. 12, potentially ignore the advice of virtually every major public health officer in the U.S. – including his own White House adviser on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci ........This intended course of action has caught the attention of Trudeau’s PMO......Canadians have to be prepared for the fallout of Mr. Trump’s actions.......be prepared to tighten restrictions at the border .....If the virus spreads because of a presidential decision to relax the rules around social distancing, it will mean that those U.S. workers transporting goods into Canada will be at greater risk of carrying the disease. That, in turn, will put Canadians at risk........we likely couldn’t shut the border completely, we may have to institute new, harsh rules about the manner in which those coming into the country are treated.....mandatory quarantine???... we have to be ready.
Anthony_Fauci  anticipating  beforemath  Canada  COVID-19  crossborder  disaster_preparedness  disease  Donald_Trump  epicentres  health_risks  Justin_Trudeau  mayhem  NSC  pandemics  pandemonium  PMO  quarantines  short-sightedness  social_distancing  threats  viruses  White_House 
4 days ago by jerryking
Great Escapes: Expensify CEO David Barrett’s Five Books to Help Weather the Storm
Updated March 20, 2020 | Barron's | By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

We asked Barrett for his five favorite books for a Great Escape at home:

** The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, for the most mind-bending ideas about the long-term future of humanity (along with Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson, for a complementary near-term perspective on the future of humanity, putting even enormous problems like population growth and climate change into a relatable context).

** Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, for the best love story ever told (but I think David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens, is a good second).

** Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics, by Tim Marshall, for explaining modern conflict—over the past 300 years—in terms of the natural consequence of national borders.

** Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power, by Victor Davis Hanson, for trying to define and explain the rise of “Western Culture” over the past 3,000 years, and what makes it so economically and militarily powerful.

** Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond, for helping explain the origins of human civilization over the past 30,000 years.
books  booklists  CEOs  economic_downturn  hard_times  Jared_Diamond  pandemics  reading_lists  science_fiction 
10 days ago by jerryking
Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus
March 19, 202i | Financial Times | Yuval Noah Harari
COVID-19  crisis  pandemics  viruses 
10 days ago by jerryking
(1) Find ways to make better use of idle resources to fight virus | Financial Times
Tim Harford A DAY AGO
The economic problem that the coronavirus pandemic has caused, even in its early stages. For everyone who is overworked, someone else has little to do but wait. The supermarkets have struggled to meet a rush of demand for some goods, but that should pass. “We are not going to run out of food, so chill,” Yossi Sheffi tells me. He’s an MIT professor and an authority on supply chains. While the pressure on the supermarkets may ease, the strain on the healthcare system will not. It is already intense and will get much worse. Yet while clinicians are overstretched, others wonder when the next job is coming from......From the falafel seller to the celebrity chef, the hotel porter to the millionaire motivational speaker, many tens of millions of people around the world are fit and eager to work, yet unable to. This is a test of flexibility and imagination. Gourmet restaurants are shifting to takeaway service; conference speakers are building portable studios.....we're finding ways to turn idle resources into weapons in the fight against the virus. It is hard not to cheer when reading tales of distillers turning their stills to the task of producing hand sanitiser, or hoteliers offering their empty rooms to doctors and nurses.
COVID-19  crisis  flexibility  healthcare  idle_resources  imagination  overstretching  pandemics  positive_thinking  radical_ideas  redeployments  resource_allocation  silver_linings  slack_resources  supply_chains  Tim__Harford  viruses  Yossi_Sheffi  
10 days ago by jerryking
How to save the human race from extinction
March 19, 2020 | Financial Times | by James Crabtree.

** The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity,  by Toby Ord
** Apocalypse How? Technology and the Threat of Disaster, by Oliver Letwin, 
** Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back, by Mark O’Connell,
How Everything Can Collapse, by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens (translated by Andrew Brown)

If coronavirus doesn’t kill us, climate or AI could. Why we must get serious about saving the world.

Visions of post-apocalyptic collapse are familiar from disaster movies, or novels such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Ord’s concern is more with what he calls “existential” risk: an apocalypse in which there is no “post”; just the end of all of us. Hence his calculations of the chance of human life ending entirely during this century: one in six.......Ord's book tallies up various apocalyptic scenarios, from asteroid strikes to the one in 1,000m chance of a “stellar explosion” in space taking the Earth with it. More alarming are the man-made “anthropogenic” threats, specifically climate change, broader environmental collapse, nuclear war, biotechnology and artificial intelligence. These risks are new, coming together in the latter 20th century to create an era that Ord dubs “the precipice”, meaning one in which total human collapse remains alarmingly likely........Ord worries most of all about “unaligned artificial intelligence”, giving odds of one in 10 to the notion that future intelligent machines might wipe out their human underlings — a scenario that has also alarmed the likes of the late scientist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk.....Pandemics are his second-biggest fear......The real risk here, however, is man-made, specifically a bioweapon or lab-mutated virus......Chaotic hospital scenes in Wuhan and Lombardy make such risks easier to imagine.......Oliver Letwin’s Apocalypse How? sketches out just one scenario, in which a fictional freak “space weather” magnetic pulse knocks out Britain’s internet, electricity and other vital networks on New Year’s Eve 2037, causing chaos and tens of thousands of deaths.......
Letwin's bigger argument concerns the rising vulnerability of sophisticated industrialised societies, given the complex interlocking technological networks that already underpin almost all of our social systems....“If the electricity grid and the internet go down in the late 2030s, and if we have not taken very particular precautions, it is likely that life as we know it will close down too,”.......Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens'  How Everything Can Collapse......focuses on "collapsology” which covers plenty of ground, from the risks of fossil fuel-dependent energy systems to instability in international finance.....their concern is primarily ecological, namely the overburdening of the Earth’s natural systems, from the climate crisis to the collapse in biodiversity.....Five mass extinctions have scarred our planet’s 4.5bn-year history, the most recent wiping out the dinosaurs 65m years ago........contemporary potential disasters share a common feature — they result at some level from the intersection of globalisation and technology......Globalisation has brought huge benefits, but also levels of human interconnection and environmental strain that make now truly global catastrophes much easier to imagine.......Today’s visions of collapse are more gradual, be that a spreading pandemic or the remorseless warming of our planet. “Today, climatic and environmental catastrophes are less spectacular, but they have actually started,” Servigne and Stevens suggest.........How should we prepare for such a possibility? Some take matters into their own hands, the subject of Mark O’Connell’s Notes from an Apocalypse, a delightful peek inside the world of “preppers” gearing up for imminent disruptions to our social or political order......begs the question of what sensible measures should be taken to prepare instead, especially when politicians find it so hard to focus on risks that are low-probability and complex, or those, such as climate change, whose full effects will not be felt for decades......Existential destruction would, by definition, be unprecedented. Yet our world is still littered with the ruins of once-thriving civilisations that did at some point come to an end, mostly for reasons that modern societies are in a position to prevent.
Apocalypses  artificial_intelligence  bioterrorism  book_reviews  books  catastrophes  COVID-19  disaster_preparedness  Elon_Musk  existential  extinction  globalization  H5N1  human_race  humanity  network_risk  pandemics  power_grid  risks  societal_collapse  Stephen_Hawking  threats  viruses  vulnerabilities 
11 days ago by jerryking
Crisis Means a New Business Era; Cheap energy, a shift from China and remote work will all shape the long-term economy.
15 Mar 2020 | Wall Street Journal (Online) | Andy Kessler.

The junk-bond-financed $6.75 billion buyout of United Airlines collapsed on Friday, Oct. 13, 1989. The stock market immediately dropped ...
Andy_Kessler  artificial_intelligence  China  Colleges_&_Universities  crisis  Crispr  COVID-19  developing_countries  distance_education  DNA_sequencing  growth  Morgan_Stanley  next_play  pandemics  productivity  telecommuting  viruses  from notes
11 days ago by jerryking
Coronavirus, Ray Dalio and forecasting in an age of uncertainty
March 18, 2020 | Financial Times | by Gillian Tett.

** Against the Gods: the Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter Bernstein.
** Uncharted by Margaret Heffernan.
** Radical Uncertainty by Mervyn King and John Kay.

Ray Dalio, founder Bridgewater Associates, admitted that he had been caught flat-footed by the recent coronavirus-driven market swings. .... It seems that the systems that Bridgewater developed to analyse the flows of finance and economic activities — which have traditionally driven its bets on the direction of stocks, bonds and other securities — did not offer any guidance when looking at a rare event such as the current pandemic. “We did not know how to navigate the virus and chose not to because we didn’t think we had an edge in trading it,” Dalio went on to explain. “So, we stayed in our positions and, in retrospect, we should have cut all risk.”
Now, many readers may feel baffled by this, given that the whole point of investing with a hedge fund is that they are supposed to beat the markets at times of stress....scorn is the wrong response here.....What is interesting to ponder is what this episode reveals about the nature of forecasting — and our modern attitudes towards time.
......the way we think about time is a defining feature of the post-enlightenment world. During much of human history, the future was viewed as a vague and terrifyingly unknowable blur marked by constant bargaining with deities (to ward off disaster) or cyclical seasonal rhythms (of the sort that underscore Buddhist cognitive maps). In modern, post-enlightenment western cultures, however, a linear vision of time emerged that presumes the past can be extrapolated into the future, with a sense of progression, not just cyclicality.

In the 20th century, this gave birth to the risk management and finance professions, as Peter Bernstein wrote two decades ago in his brilliant book Against the Gods: the Remarkable Story of Risk.
....... By 2000, innovations such as computing and the internet were turbocharging the forecasting business to an extraordinary degree, “Human discomfort with uncertainty . . . has fuelled an industry that enriches itself by terrorising us with uncertainty and taunting us with certainty,” However, while the forecasting business has made its “experts” very rich, it is also based on a fallacy: the idea that the future can be neatly extrapolated from the past. Moreover, the apparent success of some pundits in predicting events (such as the 2008 crash) makes them so overconfident that they get locked into particularly rigid models. “The harder economists try to identify sure-fire methods of predicting markets, the more such insight eludes them,”

Is there a solution? Heffernan’s answer is to embrace uncertainty, build resilience, use “narrative” (or qualitative) analyses instead of rigid models and to respect the wisdom of diverse views to avoid tunnel vision.

..........accept radical uncertainty and rethink our models......models (whether they emerge from computer science or economics) are like a compass in a dark wood at night. Navigation tools can give you a sense of direction and orientation; it would be ridiculous to toss them out entirely.

However, if you rely exclusively on them, accidents occur. If you walk through a wood just looking down at the dial of a compass, you will bang into a tree or worse. The trick, then, is to use navigation aids but also to maintain your peripheral vision..........the insights of cultural anthropology is one way to maintain peripheral vision, since it provides a social context for looking at our favoured tools (and thus a way to see their shortcomings).........Either way, now more than ever, we need broader perspectives — and humility — when trying to assess what might happen next, not just with the markets but with the coronavirus outbreak too.
books  Bridgewater  COVID-19  cultural_anthropology  extrapolations  fallacies_follies  forecasting  Gilliam_Tett  hedge_funds  heterogeneity  humility  linearity  mistakes  modelling  pandemics  peripheral_vision  Peter_Bernstein  predictive_modeling  qualitative  Ray_Dalio  risk-management  resilience  shortcomings  turbulence  uncertainty 
13 days ago by jerryking
Tests indicate coronavirus can survive in the air
03/11/20 | TheHill | BY JOHN BOWDEN.

A study awaiting peer review from scientists at Princeton University, the University of California-Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) posted online Wednesday indicated that the COVID-19 virus could remain viable in the air "up to 3 hours post aerosolization," while remaining alive on plastic and other surfaces for up to three days.

"Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days," reads the study's abstract.

The test results suggest that humans could be infected by the disease simply carried through the air or on a solid surface, even if direct contact with an infected person does not occur.
COVID-19  NIH  pandemics  viruses 
18 days ago by jerryking
Coronavirus could force difficult choices on health systems
March 11, 2020 | Financial Times | by Anjana Ahuja.

The public should be made aware of the reasoning behind difficult choices, such as who will be given intensive care beds and ventilators in the event of a shortage.

Covid-19, for which there is no vaccine or cure, presents a defining challenge for any government, whose first duty is to protect citizens. Transparency will be critical if health services become overwhelmed....the public should be made aware of the reasoning behind difficult choices, such as who will be given intensive care beds and ventilators in the event of a shortage. “How will resources be allocated when demand hits surge and capacity is limited?” ....The US Centers for Disease Control, for example, prioritises access to limited stocks of pandemic flu vaccine by splitting the population into five tiers. Tier 1 occupants include military personnel deployed overseas, frontline healthcare workers, those in the emergency services and law enforcement, pandemic vaccine manufacturers, pharmacists, pregnant women and children aged 35 months and under. ...Interestingly, priorities can change according to the profile of a disease: over-65s are tier 2 in a low severity pandemic but drop to tier 4 in a high-severity scenario. Once illness strikes, that picture changes. Sick workers are unlikely to recover in time to assist in the first wave of an epidemic. Occupational usefulness becomes secondary to clinical need, but healthcare workers are still prioritised..... who should be prioritised for life-saving treatment? Decisions should be made in a trustworthy, inclusive and fair manner to have legitimacy:
CDC  containment  COVID-19  decision_making  ethics  fairness  hard_choices  healthcare  legitimacy  lotteries  pandemics  priorities  rationing  resource_allocation  surge_capacity  transparency  triage 
19 days ago by jerryking
Shut it down: It’s time for Canada to get serious about social distancing
MARCH 11, 2020 | The Globe and Mail | by ANDRÉ PICARD.

It’s time to shut it down. Canada needs to embrace social distancing.....close down schools (from daycares through to universities) temporarily, restricting access to hospitals and nursing homes, pulling the plug on mass gatherings (e.g. sporting events), curtai all non-essential travel and urging companies to have their employees work at home......we can no longer stop this pandemic illness, just slow it down. Public health officials in Canada have embraced a calm, measured response to coronavirus. That has served us well and must continue....Social distancing means limiting our public interactions. It doesn’t mean mass quarantine,. shutting down our borders and other draconian measures....Canada is a democracy. We must respect individual rights, but also remind citizens of their collective responsibilities.....this is a pandemic and we must err on the side of caution. As an open society, we must take our coronavirus response lessons from South Korea, not China – both countries that have reined in their outbreaks using markedly different approaches....South Korea, hit early and hard by coronavirus, responded by embracing social distancing, testing massively, prioritizing public health communication, cleaning public spaces and investing in a broad range of measures to blunt the economic impacts of the outbreak.....That is what Canada needs to do – move from a wait-and-see approach to a roll-up-our-sleeves and act approach....a singularly important change has happened: New cases in Canada are no longer exclusively in people who travelled to high-risk countries such as China and Iran. Coronavirus is now spreading in the community......pro-actively seek out cases with greatly expanded testing....implement thoughtful policies to support Canadians harmed by social distancing......The way the virus has been galloping around the world, we knew the tipping point was coming......we can’t stop the spread anymore. But we can slow it ("flattening the curve”)...Italy has an excellent health-care system and yet COVID-19 has hit it “like a bomb”.......The time to prepare for the worst is now. We need to, in the immortal, if clichéd, words of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
André_Picard  bias_for_action  collective_responsibilities  community_transmission  COVID-19  disaster_preparedness  forward_looking  flu_outbreaks  individual_rights  lockdown  pandemics  proactivity  public_health  public_spaces  quarantines  social_distancing  tipping_points  urgency  viruses 
19 days ago by jerryking
Opinion: Coronavirus will change the world. It might also lead to a better future
March 5, 2020 | The Globe and Mail | by THOMAS HOMER-DIXON.
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED MARCH 5, 2020

What’s happening in response to the worldwide spread of the SARS CoV-2 virus (and COVID-19, the disease it causes) is a vivid example of a global 'tipping event,' in which multiple social systems flip simultaneously to a distinctly new state.
complexity  COVID-19  disease  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  pandemics  Thomas_Homer-Dixon  tipping_points 
22 days ago by jerryking
Opinion | We Made the Coronavirus Epidemic - The New York Times
By David Quammen
Mr. Quammen is the author of “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.”

Jan. 28, 2020
pandemics  zoonotic  flu_outbreaks  epidemics 
9 weeks ago by jerryking
Vas Narasimhan of Novartis: ‘We Are Not at All Prepared for a Pandemic’ - The New York Times
How do you deal with all these stressors?

I’ve been working with a coach on four principles: mind-set, movement, nutrition and recovery. On mind-set, I set intentions every day. I find that trying to be clear about what I want to accomplish in the day, right in the morning, is very important. What’s the impact I want to have?

Nutrition is, Am I eating for performance, or am I eating to enjoy? I’m convinced that your glycemic status impacts your overall ability to make good decisions, handle stress, all of those things.

Movement: I’m a Peloton addict.

And then recovery. I try to sleep seven or eight hours a night. I take all my vacations with my family. I go on walks with my wife, who’s like my life coach, and professional coach, and all of everything in between.
CEOs  glycemic_index  intentionality  pandemics  movement-based  Novartis  Vas_Narasimhan 
august 2019 by jerryking
The Sewers of Paris and the Making of the Modern City | CBC Radio
Philip Coulter goes underground in the City of Light to visit the City of Smell. Part 1 of 2-part series.
CBC Radio · January 25
19th_century  CBC_Radio  cities  disease  herd_immunity  history  pandemics  Paris  plagues  public_goods  public_health  sewage 
january 2019 by jerryking
Ebola isn’t the big threat. That’s still to come - The Globe and Mail
ANDRÉ PICARD
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Dec. 30 2014

What has helped rein in Ebola is good, old-fashioned infection-control measures pioneered by the likes of Florence Nightingale and James Lister, and gumshoe epidemiological work à la John Snow.

All these approaches date back to the 19th century, but they remain the backbone of tackling outbreaks of infectious disease, especially those like Ebola that spread principally in the health-care setting.

Just as importantly, all these tactics are local and hands-on, with Ebola reminding us that: 1) good public health must be community-based; 2) public-health measures are only effective if there is buy-in from health-care practitioners and the public alike and; 3) for that to occur, good communication is paramount....Ebola is a problem that is solvable. This outbreak actually can be snuffed out. It would be irresponsible to fail to do so and to allow Ebola to gain a more permanent foothold. The difficulties faced in controlling what should be – at least on paper – a relatively easy-to-control outbreak is humbling. It’s also a grim reminder that we’re still not ready for a pandemic that actually is a global threat.

Much work remains to be done in preparedness, education and, above all, in recognizing that in our interconnected world, there is no such thing as a distant threat any more.
threats  public_health  Ebola  flu_outbreaks  André_Picard  interconnections  pathogens  pandemics  19th_century  community-based 
december 2014 by jerryking
Nathan Wolfe: No More Ebola Whac-A-Mole - WSJ - WSJ
By NATHAN WOLFE
Oct. 13, 2014 7:04

Ebola is not the first virus to threaten the world, and it won’t be the last. Stopping the current epidemic is vital, but the world can’t afford to go to sleep after it is stopped. Unless we prepare for the next epidemic, we will find ourselves forever nailing down outbreaks just in time to see the next ones pop up.
disease_surveillance  Ebola  pandemics  interconnections  zoonotic  flu_outbreaks  epidemics  Congo  viruses  disease  surveillance  preparation  disaster_preparedness 
october 2014 by jerryking
‘Spillover,’ by David Quammen, on How Animals Infect Humans - NYTimes.com
By DWIGHT GARNER
Published: October 2, 2012

SPILLOVER: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
By David Quammen
587 pages. W. W. Norton & Company. $28.95.
-------------------------------------------------
Among these diseases, the devils we know are bad enough. Mr. Quammen also thinks determinedly about what he calls the NBO’s — the Next Big Ones. “Will the Next Big One come out of a rain forest or a market in southern China?” he asks. “Will the Next Big One kill” 30 million or 40 million people? He makes you dread that sneeze at the back of the bus.

Mr. Quammen, whose previous books include “The Song of the Dodo” (1996) and “Monster of God” (2003), is not just among our best science writers but among our best writers, period. (Check out his much anthologized short story “Walking Out,” about a father and son gone hunting, if you want a taste of his fiction.) That he hasn’t won a nonfiction National Book Award or Pulitzer Prize is an embarrassment.
books  pandemics  zoonotic  flu_outbreaks  epidemics  book_reviews 
october 2012 by jerryking
Forget SARS: WHO Expert Says He Fears the Flu More - WSJ.com
May 29, 2003 | WSJ | GAUTAM NAIK | Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
influenza  pandemics  SARS  flu_outbreaks  WHO 
june 2012 by jerryking
Terror is nasty, but what about that flu pandemic?
12 July 2005 | Globe and Mail pg .13. | by Jeffrey Simpson.That's the thing about flu. It can travel fast, and it can be virulent. By the time a vaccine is produced, many people in infected areas can die.

SARS showed how fast diseases can travel. Once SARS appeared in China, people in five countries were infected within 24 hours, and in 30 countries within several months; 43 people died in Canada. The Canadian Tourism Commission estimated that SARS cost the economy $419-million. The cost to Ontario's health-care system exceeded $700-million.

The U.S. National Intelligence Council, looking ahead to 2020, says a global pandemic is the single most important threat to the global economy. The growing literature about the likelihood of a pandemic, probably a flu one, is filled with quasi-apocalyptic material: millions dead, billions of dollars of commerce disrupted, serious security risks.

Michael Osterholm, a U.S. public-health expert, writes: "A pandemic is coming. It could be caused by H5N1 or by another novel [flu] strain. It could happen tonight, next year, or even 10 years from now." The number of poultry and wildlife that carry the strain(s) has exploded. Should these deadly strains get into the human food chain, watch out.
pandemics  Jeffrey_Simpson  threats  H1N1  SARS  vaccines  WHO  flu_outbreaks  food_chains  virulence  global_economy  security_&_intelligence  the_single_most_important  viruses 
october 2011 by jerryking
The 21st century's Hiroshima
Aug 6, 2005 | The Globe and Mail pg. A.17 | Preston Manning. The same science that can be used to develop genetically-based cures for human diseases can also be used to produce mutated smallpox bacteria or influenza viruses even more virulent than their predecessors and highly resistant to any known treatment. And if the sun of human progress should again become obscured by the storm clouds of war -- war itself transformed by the increasing scope and sophistication of terrorism -- how long will it be before the plan for utilizing mutated viruses and terrorist-induced pandemics as instruments of mass destruction appears on the underground blackboard of some terrorist cell capable of implementing it?

The third pebble

What exactly is the most disruptive and lethal dimension of the "dark side" of the life sciences -- the genetic equivalent of the first A-bomb -- and how might this destructive force be delivered to target populations to accomplish the political purposes of those desiring to unleash it?

While a terrorist attack on military or civilian populations utilizing such techniques would have immediate impacts on public health, the greater damage to human life and society will most likely be through the panic and terror that such a biological attack or pandemic will trigger throughout the general population. And this panic won't be transmitted by air, water, or utility system, but by the mass-communications network of 21st-century society, in particular the electronic media of radio, television, the Internet, cell phones, and personal computing devices. It is the electronic mass media that will most likely prove to be the B-29s of the age of genetics and bioterrorism.
21st._century  atoms_&_bits  bioterrorism  dark_side  digital_media  disease  DNA  genetics  life_sciences  mass_media  pandemics  panics  Preston_Manning  ripple_effects  terrorism  threats  virulence  viruses  WWI  WWII 
october 2011 by jerryking
U.S. Intelligence Unit Aims to Build a ‘Data Eye in the Sky’ - NYTimes.com
October 10, 2011 | NYT | By JOHN MARKOFF.

The government is showing interest in the idea. This summer a little-known intelligence agency began seeking ideas from academic social scientists and corporations for ways to automatically scan the Internet in 21 Latin American countries for “big data,” according to a research proposal being circulated by the agency. The three-year experiment, to begin in April, is being financed by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or Iarpa (pronounced eye-AR-puh), part of the office of the director of national intelligence.

The automated data collection system is to focus on patterns of communication, consumption and movement of populations. It will use publicly accessible data, including Web search queries, blog entries, Internet traffic flow, financial market indicators, traffic webcams and changes in Wikipedia entries.

It is intended to be an entirely automated system, a “data eye in the sky” without human intervention, according to the program proposal. The research would not be limited to political and economic events, but would also explore the ability to predict pandemics and other types of widespread contagion, something that has been pursued independently by civilian researchers and by companies like Google.
massive_data_sets  MIT  security_&_intelligence  Thomas_Malone  data  automation  human_intervention  pandemics  contagions 
october 2011 by jerryking
Air force takes cue from sci-fi - The Globe and Mail
Jul. 15, 2009 | Globe & Mail | Steven Chase. Disruptions
such as a pandemic could dramatically shift the game plan for staffing
the air force, which like other organizations will already face a major
challenge in the next decade: the slowing growth of Canada's labour
force.
RCAF  scenario-planning  flu_outbreaks  contingency_planning  pandemics 
july 2009 by jerryking
Canada stockpiles ventilators for flu fight
Jul. 07, 2009 | The Globe & Mail | Gloria Galloway. As
the H1N1 pandemic spreads globally, Canadian public health findings show
– for unknown reasons – that victims here have been younger and sicker,
and have required more ventilators than most other countries, including
the United States.
ventilators  flu_outbreaks  healthcare  Canadian_Healthcare_System  pandemics  H1N1  public_health  stockpiles 
july 2009 by jerryking
A Plague Reborn
July-August 2008 | Harvard Magazine | by Jonathan Shaw
disease  pandemics  plagues 
may 2009 by jerryking
Pandemics and Poor Information - WSJ.com
MAY 11, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by L. GORDON CROVITZ.
Whenever there's a threat of epidemic, alongside early deaths comes the casualty of information. Asian governments at least learned from their recent experience of bird flu and SARS the importance of not covering up outbreaks. The still open question is how to assess warnings that health professionals make based on inadequate information. Almost by definition, the risk of an epidemic occurs when the one thing disease experts know for sure is that they don't know for sure what will happen.
"What new information would be sufficient to change your decision?"

Alexander's question (AKA 'Dr. Alexander's question') is a question used to uncover assumptions and associations that may be confusing your judgment. Asking what information would be needed to change your mind can help bring faulty reasoning to light, and it can also point out what facts you should be researching before committing yourself and others to a course of action.

The uncertainty about the longer-term threat of the current swine flu is a
reminder that nature is more complex than mathematical models.Scientific
hypotheses can then be tested, but this approach has limits when it
comes to predictions.
"Alexander's Question," named for a physician who had posed a canny
question of his fellow experts: What information might make the group
change its mind about the need for immunization? Focusing on it would
have led to more focus on uncertainties: the trade-off between side
effects and flu, the difference between the severity of the flu and its
spread, and the choice between mandatory vaccinations and stockpiling in
case of later need. Decision makers should ask themselves what new
"knowns" would change their views.
pandemics  epidemics  risk-assessment  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  information_flows  information  decision_making  immunization  critical_thinking  uncertainty  assumptions  questions  Dr.Alexander's_Question  information_gaps  hidden  latent  facts  change_your_mind  problem_framing  tradeoffs  flu_outbreaks  side_effects  vaccines  stockpiles  information-poor  CDC  unknowns 
may 2009 by jerryking
Zoonotic Diseases
October 2007 Zoonotic Diseases | National Geographic | by David Quammen
National Geographic Contributing Writer
pandemics  zoonotic  epidemics  viruses  SARs 
may 2009 by jerryking
The Age of Pandemics - WSJ.com
MAY 2, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By LARRY BRILLIANT
Modernity--population growth, climate change and increased contact
between humans and animals--is causing more new viruses with pandemic
potential to jump from their traditional animal hosts to humans.
Brilliant outlines what the world needs to do to prepare.

Indeed, to the epidemiological community, the Influenza Pandemic of 2009 is one of the most widely anticipated diseases in history. ....The current pathogen creating the threat is actually a mixture of viral genetic elements from all over the globe that have sorted, shifted, sorted, shifted, drifted and recombined to form this worrisome virus.....Here's the good news: Compared with a few years ago, the world is somewhat better prepared to deal with pandemic influenza. There have been training meetings, table-top exercises, dry runs and preparedness drills at virtually every level of government and civil society. ......Here's the bad news: Today, we remain underprepared for any pandemic or major outbreak, whether it comes from newly emerging infectious diseases, bioterror attack or laboratory accident. We do not have the best general disease surveillance systems or "surge" capacity in our hospitals and health-care facilities......And there is worse news: The 2009 swine flu will not be the last and may not be the worst pandemic that we will face in the coming years. Indeed, we might be entering an Age of Pandemics........In our lifetimes, or our children's lifetimes, we will face a broad array of dangerous emerging 21st-century diseases, man-made or natural, brand-new or old, newly resistant to our current vaccines and antiviral drugs.....Bioterror weapons are cheap and do not need huge labs or government support. They are the poor man's WMD.....
21st._century  bad_news  bioterrorism  disaster_preparedness  disease  disease_surveillance  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  genetic_drift  genetic_shift  infections  influenza  man-made  modernity  pandemics  pathogens  preparation  sorting  surge_capacity  underprepared  viruses  zoonotic 
may 2009 by jerryking

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