A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Apr 24, 2020

Why Social Engineering, Not AI, Is Going To Save Humanity From Covid-19 - or Itself

Social engineering has worked surprisingly well. Normally independent, restive populations in the US, Italy and many other places have sequestered themselves with little protest compared to what was expected. As a result, curves are flattening. Polls show that overwhelming majorities fear re-opening too soon versus speeding that process up.

And it is human to look for a quick fix, a magical cure, whether it be a super-drug or artificial intelligence. But the reality is that there is no technological or medical savior. Yet. Self-discipline, driven by knowledge, communication and the very human instinct for self-preservation is proving itself. JL

Tristan Greene reports in The Next Web:

Experts agree a second wave pandemic would be catastrophic compared to waiting it out. Then there’s those of you who believe we should use technology to split the difference. You’re the ones who scare me the most. The idea goes: we train AI to see COVID-19 symptoms, then use cameras to monitor public spaces. If someone’s tagged, the AI alerts first-responders so the threat (is) removed. We install cameras at every commercial, industrial, and government building on the planet. A two-in-three asymptomatic infection rate means there is no method by which AI can “scan” for coronavirus.
I want to start off with some good news: The curve appears to be flattening!
That being said, we’re also at our most vulnerable point in the pandemic. How we respond over the next month will probably decide whether we get to stop social-distancing in 2020.
Medical experts overwhelmingly agree prematurely ending social distancing efforts would most likely lead to a second-wave pandemic. But most think we could pull through this by summer if we stay the course.
For those who believe the biggest threat we face from COVID-19 is economic and financial ruin on a global, local, and/or personal level: economic and financial experts overwhelmingly agree that a second wave pandemic would be catastrophic compared to waiting it out.
Then there’s those of you who believe that we should use technology to split the difference. You’re the ones who scare me the most.
The idea goes like this: We train AI to see COVID-19 symptoms and then use cameras to monitor public spaces. If someone’s tagged as having a fever, for example, the AI could send an alert to local first-responders so the threat could be removed from public. We install these cameras (or whatever other automated sensor we come up with) all over the place and, most importantly, at the entry and exit of every commercial, industrial, and government building on the planet.
On paper this seems like a safe, effective way to get us back to work without risking everyone’s lives. It’s a win-win right?
Not so much. Consider this: onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a US Navy aircraft carrier recently ravaged by COVID-19, more than 60% of those who tested positive for the virus showed no symptoms.
The Theodore Roosevelt has a crew of 4,800, which makes this one of the largest populations to receive 100% testing for the coronavirus.
A two-in-three asymptomatic infection rate means there is no currently viable method by which AI, or any other current technology, can “scan” the general population for coronavirus.
Thermometers are not an effective way to screen for COVID-19.
Until we develop a vaccine, the only smart move is social-distancing. And we don’t need an artificially intelligent computer to tell us that.
But, if it’d make you feel better: MIT’s super-accurate AI also agrees that prematurely ending social-distancing would be catastrophic.

By the numbers

2,512,902 : Total infected world wide
173,420: Total reported deaths (estimated mortality rate: 7%) )
660,196: Total reported recoveries (estimated recovery rate: 93% with 26% of all estimated cases currently considered fully recovered)
Did previous civilizations deal with whiners like this?

"Man, we've gotta open the gates."
"We've been through this, Phil. The Mongols are still outside."
"But I've gotta harvest my turnips"
"MONGOLS"
"Ugh. But we've been in here or WEEKS."
"That's how sieges work, Phil."
"But the Mongols have barely killed anyone in days."
"That's because of the walls, Phil."
"Are you sure? Maybe the Mongols aren't that dangerous."
"..."
"I'm just saying, how bad could it be. They can't kill ALL of us"
"That is literally the thing they do."
"But my turnips..."
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