A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 26, 2020

AI Is Being Used To Screen For Covid By Identifying Its Unique Cough Patterns

Research is revealing that Covid has unique cough patterns which, if identified early enough in potential patients could help screen them for the virus.

AI is being trained on those Covid cough data so that it can test people early in the infection process. JL

AIthority reports:

To use  AI technology to help predict whether people are showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection, one capability involves using crowdsourcing to collect cough sounds from a large number of volunteers and then analyzing that data combined with other datasets from the consortium using AI analytics to identify the unique cough patterns associated with COVID-19 infections. Early published results suggest using AI to identify coughs as a COVID-19 screening mechanism has significant potential, as the pathomorphology of the disease is distinctive from that of other respiratory diseases.

How Facebook and YouTube Turned Bill Gates Into the Right Wing Covid Villain

Because they are far more concerned about user engagement as a key metric for selling ads, Facebook and YouTube have allowed mis-and-disinformation to proliferate on their sites, despite the obvious falsehoods, the potential for destructive lies to hurt people during a global health emergency and the tarnishing of personal reputations.

The question is whether a turn away from populist regimes will enable society to rein in these social media. JL

Ryan Broderick reports in BuzzFeed:

Conspiracy theorists, panicked and ignorant people, and technology platforms that allowed the hoaxes to grow turned Bill Gates into the villain of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Friday, 44% of Republicans in the US believe that Gates plans to use a COVID-19 vaccination as a way to implant microchips in people and monitor their movements.

How Ford, GM, Chrysler and Tesla Are Bringing Back Their Workforce

None of them mandate testing for their workforce, which suggests that they will either look the other way if someone is sick, or they'll deal with it when it happens, but that getting production back up and running is worth a few casualties.

And all of this is predicated on the assumption that there are consumers with the money and the interest in buying new cars during an economic depression. JL

Sean O'Kane reports in The Verge:

These plans illustrate how difficult it will be to get the auto industry in the US up and running during a pandemic. Each company’s plan is different. Some are better in certain respects, none are airtight — as Ford is already dealing with positive cases. (All) are reliant on suppliers dealing with their own localized outbreaks. If the suppliers have to stay shut down or stop production again, it could force US automakers to halt manufacturing. It’s already happening with GM. And even if everything goes according to plan, there may be no one to buy the cars their workers make.

Why Has the Pandemic Confounded the Great American Logistics Machine?

It turns out that squeezing every last inefficiency out of the global logistics network may have been great for profit margins.

But it failed to take into account the price of unexpected breakdowns and the attendant shortages they produce that will end up costing billions more than the savings touted previously. JL

David Segal reports in the New York Times:

Rationing meat. Scrambling for masks. Running low on crucial drugs. The early shortages for the pandemic - swabs, toilet paper, ventilators - were a foreshadowing, not an aberration. We still don’t have enough tests. Our national pantry, long bursting, lacks essentials. It’s also missing some nonessentials. Just try to buy a bicycle. The heart of the great American logistics machine is beating slowly and erratically, and in some places it has gone into full-on cardiac arrest.

The 13 Kinds Of Pandemic TV Ads

Advertisers can be forgiven if the ads they've created during the pandemic seem a bit off.

After all, who was professionally prepared to package death, economic depression and kids at home all day every day with buying new cars, take home pizza and excess toilet paper? But the ad folks have settled on a number of themes, that, if nothing else, help break up binge watching - while keep themselves getting paid. JL

Justin Peters reports in Slate:

This (pandemic) leaves companies wanting to assure us that we’re united during these extraordinary times, while insisting that the times remain ordinary enough for us to buy a new car. It has been a tough sell. Ads have evolved over the course of the pandemic. At first they were confused; then they were empathetic; then eager to celebrate this country and their own fortitude; now they are antsy for Americans to get back to picking up fast-food pizza five nights a week. If advertising represents an aspirational version of the world in which we live, we’ll be living in a nightmare for a while.

Has the Pandemic Killed Corporate Culture?

The new normal had already begun decades ago. Globalization and technology were its harbingers and handmaidens.

The pandemic has accelerated a trend already in train. It's not so much that corporate culture is dead; it's that it is evolving - again, as always - and whatever supplants the ostensibly collaborative open plan is just another step along a path which was well defined before masks and Purell. JL

Juliette Kayyem reports in The Atlantic:

The main point of going to the office is that your co-workers are there. Return to work before a vaccine will have employees distanced. Offices will operate with reduced occupancy. The places where people normally gather - conference rooms, the break room - may be off-limits. Corporate culture is based on interaction that will not be regained by being in the same building with only a fraction of the workforce. The coronavirus has accelerated trends already under way. Companies were looking to cut spending on office space; many workers were eager to telecommute.

May 25, 2020

Science vs Politics: The Reality Check For 'Warp Speed' Vaccines

Hope is not a strategy. And new technologies can only speed the process so much. JL

Hannah Kuchler reports in the Financial Times:

Vaccines are usually developed over many years and even decades. The average vaccine took 10.71 years and had only a 6% success rate from start to finish. Each stage is an experiment: from the small phase one trials happening now to the large phase three trials needed for regulatory approval.“Manufacturing is not the hurdle. It’s taking the time to collect enough efficacy and safety data.” New technologies are fueling hope for a faster process (but) an optimistic scenario is a vaccine produced in the “tens of millions” next year, mainly distributed to healthcare workers, and far larger volumes in 2022.