Given what we now know about this virus, our ancestral trust in God would have served us must better than our actual course of action that instead trusted humans acting beyond the boundary they should not have crossed.
Most of our population of hundreds of millions of people are intelligent and capable and will survive even if they get the illness. Our government has decided to arrest this population and instead rely on a relative handful of selected essential persons to run everything, and even a more selective set of all available experts to dictate the rules while waiting for the promised vaccine that is their primary hope of solving everything.
The ultimate fallout will be political upheavals resulting from the fact that the lessons of this experiment are impossible to unlearn. People will see the contradictions between what they were told to believe before, and how things actually work out. There will be two sides: those who want to retain their prior authority by going backwards, and those who no longer believe that option makes any sense.
From a policy perspective there is a opportunity choice to make. One, the government devotes resources to acquiring and managing ventilator inventories. Or two, the government devotes resources to finding a way for future patients to never need ventilators. It appears to me that we have decided on the first option, thus condemning future survivors to endure the lung damage from ventilators.
We may be wasting valuable energy and attention on obtaining, allocating, and stockpiling ventilators that are not going to change the overall statistical outcomes of this pandemic. We may be better off focusing our attention on other more productive avenues for protecting the population from reaching the point where ventilators are the last available option.
With this more diffuse spread of the disease and early warning from experience out of China, we could be implementing their late-stage practices right up front. Require people to check-in/check-out of each public gathering space, have them record their names and times when the enter and leave, and record their responses to health questions along with a quick temperature reading.
In the actual case, humans facilitated the fast recovery after the false alarm because even though each person is specialized in terms of what they would have been doing that day, they would also, in large part, recognize the situation by observing people around them going about their own restoration of normal life. The specialization among humans is fundamentally different from the specialization of machines in that despite the specialization in duties or goals, humans share their human identity. They will adjust their expectations and demands in part to accommodate for the difficulties they can see others going through to meet those demands. Also, people will volunteer their services in areas that they normally do not work. In contrast, the various systems within an automated economy are less equipped to cooperate with unrelated systems, either in perceiving the need to cooperate, or having the capacity to help.
In this case, the minimum viable product is a policy the forbids quarantines of Ebola exposed individuals, and advises us of no risk to participate normally in public and commerce. The data we are looking for is actual transmissions that can only be explained by the sneezing and coughing route. When that happens, we will have the proof we need to come out with the new-improved product of an updated policy that advises more precautions in public and recommends quarantines of exposed individuals. The minimum viable product succeeds best when it is fails because that is how we obtain the evidence we need to make a better product (in this case a policy).
In earlier posts, I described the appeal of big data analysis to find answers to questions that lack any direct observations. The idea is that enriching observations with additional details can expose patterns that can provide information otherwise we would miss. It is like a business marketing study of big data that finds that…
It is now happy hour, that period between 4 and 7 where bars try to attract after-work gatherings. I am enjoying a quiet tea break instead. Orange-spice blend herbal tea, to be exact. I live in Arlington Virginia within but at the edge of the DC urban area. Most jobs are office…