The Government Failure in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence on Fighting the Coronavirus

The Government Failure in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence on Fighting the Coronavirus

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield was asked today about information on risks of getting the Coronavirus associated with various activities.  He said something vague about looking into it.

Every keystroke any of us make on the internet, is entered into our sellable internet profile.  Profile is hardly a correct word, since a profile is a tiny outline.  The internet accumulators know us down to and through our souls.  Google is said to read each of our emails.  People who ask for their records, get about a gigabyte of data.  At about 5 bytes a word, this is 200 million words.  At 100,000 words per novel, this is the content of 2,000, hopefully fulfilling, novels.  For the 20 years that Google has been google eyeing us, that is a novel every four days.

Lets take the specific case of flying on an airplane.  Every flight is of course registered, and the FAA knows what the seating arrangement and masking requirement was for each flight of each airline, and where it picked up passengers.  You can’t get on your flight without them recording a picture identification, and checking you against a list.  It would have been easy to phone, email, or mail contact every passenger days after their flight, and see if they had any symptoms.  They could also be tracked for illness through their health care providers, urgent care records, doctor records, or hospital records.  The FAA knows what the air conditioning system of each aircraft is, and when filters are changed in service.  They know where every passenger was seated on the plane.  Big data and AI could crunch this in no time.  We haven’t been paying Homeland Security $300 billion, or $50 billion a year, for nothing.  I leave it to historians to find out why nothing was done, despite Congressional desires to do something.  They could have evaluated the safety of each airline seating arrangement, source and destination of each flight, and period of the virus outbreak, and effectiveness of each air conditioning and filtering type in each part of the aircraft, and effects of the length of flight, and masking policy.  We still know nothing about this, after months of flights and transmissions.

Hospitals keep computer records of procedures and conditions of patients, as do doctors in offices.  This was started in the 60s.  Yet only a few enterprising doctors in a hospital or hospital group are studying such data, and slowly evaluating single procedures or drugs.

Right now, we are in a senseless struggle with non-maskers.  In the fall, we are going to be in a struggle with those forcing kids back to school, from those full of misinformation about the seriousness of the virus and its spread.  We are, in a half a year or more, still going to have to contend with non-vaxers, preventing us from reaching herd immunity.  Today, Dr. Fauci estimated that it would take 70-85% vaccinated to reach that.  Yesterday, Dr. Fauci said that the vaccine may not be 100% effective.  This past year, only 40% were flu vaccinated.  They are making enough flu vaccine for 60% this year.  Flu cases can overload the hospital system, and also confuse cases with the Coronavirus, requiring more testing.  Flu deaths can reach 66,000.  I am hoping that social distancing and masking precautions still in place will also end the flu season with few deaths.

As with all things associated with our losing fight with the Coronavirus, we have made little use of our science and technology, and maximum use of our political posturing.

This lethargy or coverups starts at the top.  We know that Jared Kushner organized Cambridge Analytica, a British company (illegal foreign interference), to attack the electorate in 2016 (with purloined computer profiles).  Of course, both parties are making full use of this, for political gain.  But for fighting the virus?

Probably Big Data accumulators are already running internal studies of who will get sick, and what items do they have to order, and redistribute to handle their business.  Yet the government does not get their help in studying trends.  In the past, such companies have published studies of how the flu was growing.  Unfortunately, Trump’s only association with the largest distributor, Amazon, is to fight with its founder, Jeff Bezos, since he owns the Washington Post, although he refuses to control it.

The CDC is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  As far as Big Data is concerned, it has not acted as the Center, nor for Disease Control and Prevention.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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