February 28, 2021

Developments

Digital contact tracing apps first emerged early in the pandemic. They’d let you know if you’d been around anyone who had tested positive, and they worked on a regular personal smartphone. So far, they haven’t been a silver bullet, and they’ve faced criticism over usability, privacy, and more. But they’re low-cost tools based on technology already in our pockets. Do they have a role now, as cases of covid-19 continue to spike, especially in the US?

I spoke about these issues with Rajeev Venkayya, who served as the White House’s biodefense advisor under George W. Bush and was responsible for that administration’s national strategy for pandemic preparedness. After that, he was the director of vaccine delivery at the Gates Foundation. He now heads the vaccine business of Takeda, a Japanese pharmaceutical company that is hoping to manufacture Novavax’s vaccine candidate.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Q: Read the rest

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The rise of technonationalism. Diverging regulatory regimes. The spread of “walled gardens.” Polarization like nothing we’ve seen before. The confluence of several trends is poised to completely fragment our real and digital worlds. For companies, this raises a host of new risks, from cybersecurity threats to reputation risk—which, in turn, will require new responses and approaches.

The techonomic cold war

A “techonomic cold war” is already under way—an ongoing, often-invisible state of conflict at the intersection of technology and geopolitics.

Competition to dominate the next generation of technology infrastructure—such as electric vehicles, 5G networks, and quantum computing—is becoming increasingly heated. It’s a high-stakes contest and the countries setting the rules for these technologies could secure significant economic advantage, much as the United States benefited over several decades from pioneering the personal computer and the internet.

At the same time, populist and nationalist leaders have been ascendant in much of the … Read the rest

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The vaccines are coming. The UK became the first country in the West to approve a covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on December 2, specifically the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which has completed phase 3 trials. But the US, the EU, and many other countries are expected to follow suit in the following days and weeks. The imminent arrival of vaccines means that countries not only face a huge logistical challenge to distribute them—which is complicated by the fact the two most promising vaccines require ultra-cold temperatures—but also have to grapple with hard choices over who gets them first. 

Here’s how different countries are making their decisions on distributing vaccines to their populations. 

United States

How many doses will be available? Up to 40 million doses are expected to be on offer in the US by the end of 2020—25 million of which will come from Pfizer-BioNTech and 12.5 million … Read the rest

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On the evening of Wednesday, December 2, Timnit Gebru, the co-lead of Google’s ethical AI team, announced via Twitter that the company had forced her out. 

Gebru, a widely respected leader in AI ethics research, is known for coauthoring a groundbreaking paper that showed facial recognition to be less accurate at identifying women and people of color, which means its use can end up discriminating against them. She also cofounded the Black in AI affinity group, and champions diversity in the tech industry. The team she helped build at Google is one of the most diverse in AI, and includes many leading experts in their own right. Peers in the field envied it for producing critical work that often challenged mainstream AI practices.

A series of tweets, leaked emails, and media articles showed that Gebru’s exit was the culmination of a conflict over another paper she co-authored. … Read the rest

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Miriam was only 21 when she met Nick. She was a photographer, fresh out of college, waiting tables. He was 16 years her senior and a local business owner who had worked in finance. He was charming and charismatic; he took her out on fancy dates and paid for everything. She quickly fell into his orbit.

It began with one credit card. At the time, it was the only one she had. Nick would max it out with $5,000 worth of business purchases and promptly pay it off the next day. Miriam, who asked me not to use their real names for fear of interfering with their ongoing divorce proceedings, discovered that this was boosting her credit score. Having grown up with a single dad in a low-income household, she trusted Nick’s know-how over her own. He readily encouraged the dynamic, telling her she didn’t understand finance. She opened up … Read the rest

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In late March, Claire Rezba heard about the tragic death of Diedre Wilkes. Wilkes, a 42-year-old mammogram technician, had died alone of covid-19 in her home, her four-year-old child near her body.

Rezba, a physician based in Richmond, Virginia, was shaken. “That story resonated with me,” she says. “She was about my age.” Wilkes’s death also heightened Rezba’s anxiety and her fears of bringing the coronavirus home to her family.

Her response took the form of a memorial project. Whenever she could find a minute, Rezba searched for notices of health-care workers who had passed away. By mid-April, she had collected 150, which she started posting as tweet-length obits to her personal Twitter account. The list, US HCWs Lost to Covid19, “became a mission,” Rezba says—and continues to grow daily.

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IPhone users are familiar with Air Sharing as one of the best “cloud” applications for mobile phones. Open your newly installed VMWare Player and choose Create a New Virtual Machine. In addition to the risks for your body, there are mental negatives of exercise. Exercise is a form of stress relief, and the benefits are so powerful that they can be addicting. Exercise addiction is an unhealthy compulsion to exercise that interferes with your life. -i. This option is not always possible, as some OSes, like Windows 7, require reinstallation of applications before they can be made usable under the new OS. This Russian-developed instant messaging app is cloud-based. This simply means that it stores all the conversations, files, and data in a cloud. It thereafter avails this data to its users regardless of their precise locations on the globe. It grants its users the ability to send instant messages, … Read the rest

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President Trump’s conspiracy-theory-fueled plan to overturn his defeat in the 2020 elections targeted six states that President-elect Joe Biden narrowly won: Wisconsin, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Georgia. All six of those states have now certified their vote counts—with recounts sometimes even increasing the victory margin for Biden. 

The confirmation of the results has correlated with a decrease in election disinformation. But according to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence company, while fraud-related claims have dropped in volume, they haven’t exactly gone away. In fact, they’re still getting widely shared: Zignal’s database of social media, broadcast, traditional media, and online sites recorded more than 1.9 million mentions of voter fraud claims over the past seven days. And tweets from prominent right-wing figures and elected officials, such as this one from Senator Rand Paul, are still getting tens of thousands of shares. So what will happen next?

It’s not going

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As covid-19 cases spiral out of control in the US, states are scrambling to fight the virus with an increasingly stretched arsenal. Many of them have the same weapons at their disposal: restrictions on public gatherings and enforcement of mask wearing, plus testing, tracing, and exposure notifications.

But while many states struggle to get their systems to work together, Guam—a tiny US territory closer to the Korean Peninsula than the North American mainland—may offer clues on how to rally communities around at least one part of the puzzle: smartphone contact tracing.

With no budget, and relying almost entirely on a grassroots volunteer effort, Guam has gotten 29% of the island’s adult residents to download its exposure notification app, a rate of adoption that outstrips states with far more resources. 

A collaborative effort 

Guam diagnosed its first covid cases in March, but a few weeks later, it gained international attention—and … Read the rest

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Last decade’s clean-tech gold rush ended in disaster, wiping out billions in investments and scaring venture capitalists away for years.

But a new investment boom is building again, this time around a broader set of climate-related technologies. Funding has soared more than 3,750% since 2013, according to a PwC report this fall, as numerous climate-focused venture firms emerge and established players return to the field (including some that got scorched the last time). Investments are poised to rise further as market, policy, and technological forces align to make venture capitalists and entrepreneurs more confident.

One of these factors is President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to push through climate-friendly legislation, regulations, and executive orders. There are also rising hopes that Congress will pass stimulus bills that would funnel massive amounts of money into clean tech, much as the Obama administration did during the global financial crisis.

Regardless of what happens on the … Read the rest

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