Locals in Varanasi are happy. “There is a lot of difference when we see the water of the Ganga river today and what used to be earlier. Today, the water looks clean. One of the biggest reasons behind this is that today all factories are closed. People are not taking bath at the ghats. If this is the condition in 10 days, then I believe Ganga river will be like it used to be earlier,” one local said. Another one added: “The water in the Ganga river has become clean during the lockdown. Nobody must have thou
I took a run the other morning. It was still and quiet, but I was surprised to see how many people were up, about, and still working in a city in which “non-essential workers” have been told to stay-at-home. I saw bus drivers and taxi drivers, who may have taken some of those hospital workers to their fourteen-hour shifts, along with stock workers and cashiers who work in stores, so we can still buy food, milk, bread, and coffee. I saw truck drivers steering rigs with pictures of fruits, vegetable and meat
In Puerto Rico we used three clear approaches to feed our fellow Americans that can be a guide to heading off an economic and food crisis today:
— Support the private sector as quickly as possible when the economy crashes, as it did after Maria: activate kitchens with federal dollars to serve the people.
— Repurpose and deploy community facilities, while expanding their mission: use the kitchens in schools and arenas to feed more people, more quickly.
— Solve the informational and logistical challenge: Matching demand and supply — by getting food to the people who need it most — is even more challenging than cooking in a crisis. Distribution is the Achilles’ heel of any disaster response.
But how much has AI really helped in tackling the current outbreak? That’s a hard question to answer. Companies like BlueDot are typically tight-lipped about exactly who they provide information to and how it is used. And human teams say they spotted the outbreak the same day as the AIs. Other projects in which AI is being explored as a diagnostic tool or used to help find a vaccine are still in their very early stages. Even if they are successful, it will take time—possibly months—to get those innovations into the hands of the health-care workers who need them.
The hype outstrips the reality. In fact, the narrative that has appeared in many news reports and breathless press releases—that AI is a powerful new weapon against diseases—is only partly true and risks becoming counterproductive. For example, too much confidence in AI’s capabilities could lead to ill-informed decisions that funnel public money to unproven AI companies at the expense of proven interventions such as drug programs. It’s also bad for the field itself: overblown but disappointed expectations have led to a crash of interest in AI, and consequent loss of funding, more than once in the past.
Obviously it is nothing to downplay – hundreds of thousands infected, thousands of deaths, and an enormous impact to global economy is nothing to scoff at. The social distancing, cancellation of sporting events, bans on group gatherings, and lock-downs are bringing industries like travel and entertainment to their knees. If we thought social media was making us lonely, guess what social distancing and Self Isolation are going to do…
Yes, there are some silver linings – reduced pollution, increased family time, a lasting change in the way you work, etc. But there are a few professions which are not ideally suited to work-from-home, social-distancing, including mine – Sales!
Wide, unstoppable spread of the coronavirus is exactly an outcome experts are modeling in their worst-case scenarios. They say that given what they know about the virus, it could end up infecting about 60% of the world’s population, even within the year.
Those figures aren’t a random guess. They are informed by the point at which epidemiologists say herd immunity should kick in for this particular virus.
Last week the herd immunity idea blew up in the headlines after UK prime minister Boris Johnson indicated that country’s official strategy might be to put on a stiff upper lip and let the disease run its course. The chief science adviser to the UK government, Patrick Vallance, said the country needed to “build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission.”