global pandemic

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pages: 1,072 words: 237,186

How to Survive a Pandemic by Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM

coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, double helix, friendly fire, global pandemic, global supply chain, global village, inventory management, Kickstarter, mass immigration, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Journalism, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, phenotype, profit motive, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, statistical model, stem cell, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, Westphalian system, Y2K, Yogi Berra

CFID=10139428&CFTOKEN=91980581. 689. Kennedy M. 2005. Bird flu could kill millions: global pandemic warning from WHO. Gazette (Montreal), March 9, p. A1. 690. Healy B. 2005. Unprepared for bird flu. U.S. News and World Report, October 24. www.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/051024/24healy.htm. 691. Rubinson L, Vaughn F, Nelson S, Giordano S, Kallstrom T, Buckley T, Burney T, Hupert N, Mutter R, Handrigan M, et al. 2010. Mechanical ventilators in US acute care hospitals. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 4(3):199–206. https://doi.org/10.1001/dmp.2010.18. 692. Osterholm M, Colwell R, Garrett L, Fauci AS. 2005. The Council on Foreign Relations meeting: the threat of global pandemics. Federal News Service, June 16. www.cfr.org/publication/8198/threat_of_global_pandemics.html. 693. McNeil DG. 2006. Hospitals short on ventilators if bird flu hits.

Brown D. 2005. Scientists race to head off lethal potential of avian flu. Washington Post, August 23. 350. Osterholm M, Colwell R, Garrett L, Fauci AS. 2005. The Council on Foreign Relations meeting: the threat of global pandemics. Federal News Service, June 16. cfr.org/publication.html.?id=8198. 351. Bor J. 2005. A versatile virus: an expert in infectious diseases explains why avian flu could trigger the next pandemic. Baltimore Sun, July 1. 352. Osterholm M, Colwell R, Garrett L, Fauci AS. 2005. The Council on Foreign Relations meeting: the threat of global pandemics. Federal News Service, June 16. cfr.org/publication.html.?id=8198. 353. Arnst C. 2005. A hot zone in the heartland. Little could be done to contain a deadly avian flu outbreak. Business Week, September 19. businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_38/b3951008.htm. 354.

Public Broadcasting System. www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/influenza/peopleevents/pandeAMEX90.html. 645. Public Broadcasting System. American Experience Transcript. 1918 Influenza. pbs.org/wgbh/amex/influenza/filmmore/transcript/transcript1.html. 646. Osterholm M, Colwell R, Garrett L, Fauci AS. 2005. The Council on Foreign Relations meeting: the threat of global pandemics. Federal News Service, June 16. www.cfr.org/publication/8198/threat_of_global_pandemics.html. 647. Antigua KJC, Choi WS, Baek YH, Song MS. 2019. The emergence and decennary distribution of clade 2.3 4.4 HPAI H5Nx. Microorganisms. 7(6):e156. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms7060156. 648. Weekly Epidemiological Record. 2005. H5N1 avian influenza: first steps towards development of a human vaccine. Weekly Epidemiological Record 80:277–8. 649.


pages: 669 words: 195,743

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

Alfred Russel Wallace, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, conceptual framework, coronavirus, dark matter, digital map, double helix, experimental subject, facts on the ground, Fellow of the Royal Society, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, Google Earth, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, out of africa, Pearl River Delta, South China Sea, urban sprawl

When a pathogen leaps from some nonhuman animal into a person, and succeeds there in establishing itself as an infectious presence, sometimes causing illness or death, the result is a zoonosis. It’s a mildly technical term, zoonosis, unfamiliar to most people, but it helps clarify the biological complexities behind the ominous headlines about swine flu, bird flu, SARS, emerging diseases in general, and the threat of a global pandemic. It helps us comprehend why medical science and public health campaigns have been able to conquer some horrific diseases, such as smallpox and polio, but unable to conquer other horrific diseases, such as dengue and yellow fever. It says something essential about the origins of AIDS. It’s a word of the future, destined for heavy use in the twenty-first century. Ebola is a zoonosis. So is bubonic plague.

(It’s a little confusing, I concede, that they use R0 as the symbol for basic reproduction rate and plain R as the symbol for recovered in an SIR model. That’s just a clumsy coincidence, reflecting the fact that both words begin with the letter R.) R0 explains and, to some limited degree, it predicts. It defines the boundary between a small cluster of weird infections in a tropical village somewhere, flaring up, burning out, and a global pandemic. It came from George MacDonald. 28 Plasmodium falciparum isn’t the only malarial parasite of global concern. Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, most human cases are caused by Plasmodium vivax, the second-worst of the four kinds adapted particularly to infecting people. (The other two, P. ovale and P. malariae, are far more rare and not nearly so virulent, causing infections that usually pass without medical treatment.)

Most of those papers are narrowly technical, addressing the details of molecular evolution, reservoir relationships, or epidemiology, but some take a broader view, asking What is it that makes this virus unusual? and What have we learned from the SARS experience? One thought that turns up in the latter sort is that “humankind has had a lucky escape.” The scenario could have been very much worse. SARS in 2003 was an outbreak, not a global pandemic. Eight thousand cases are relatively few, for such an explosive infection; 774 people died, not 7 million. Several factors contributed to limiting the scope and the impact of the outbreak, of which humanity’s good luck was only one. Another was the speed and excellence of the laboratory diagnostics—finding the virus and identifying it—performed by Malik Peiris, Guan Yi, their partners in Hong Kong, and their colleagues and competitors in the United States, China, and Europe.


pages: 134 words: 41,085

The Wake-Up Call: Why the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West, and How to Fix It by John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

Admiral Zheng, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, Corn Laws, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, global pandemic, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jones Act, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, McMansion, night-watchman state, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parkinson's law, pensions crisis, QR code, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, trade route, universal basic income, Washington Consensus

Only about a third of Americans trusted Donald Trump’s medical advice.22 One poll in late April showed that 62 percent of the French had no confidence in their government’s handling of the crisis, with commentators, on both the right and the left, comparing France’s response to Covid to the country’s “strange defeat” by Germany in 1940.23 At its worst, this distrust created conspiracy theories: that the virus had been deliberately manufactured, either by China or Big Pharma or indeed the United States; that it spread through 5G towers and masks; that it was a plot to kill off the old. Bill Gates was blamed, because long before Covid he had (correctly) warned about the danger of a global pandemic in a TED talk, and invested cash in trying to find a cure. This nonsense has consequences: people have burned down scores of 5G towers, including sometimes towers that served medical facilities. A third of Americans say that they won’t get themselves vaccinated if one is found. OVERLOADED—AND OVER? Meanwhile, in terms of geopolitics, the crisis has left the West weaker and Asia stronger.

“The model of how democracy began,” says Bass, “is also a study in how it can founder and fall.”6 Britain was slow into lockdown not just because Boris Johnson was incompetent but also because of his libertarian instincts (Johnson has a bust of Pericles on his desk). In France, Macron went ahead with the elections that helped spread the virus, partly because he thought it was the right thing to do. But wait. If there was ever a test that autocracies ought to ace, it is a global pandemic. The problem is what these draconian administrations do to you the rest of the time. Moreover, there is actually nothing antidemocratic about giving elected officials more power in the short term, in order to beat a disease—providing those powers are temporary and pragmatic. Governor Cuomo’s decision to tell the National Guard to look for ventilators in New York and Johnson’s decision to instruct the army to build a hospital in East London were admirable responses to a crisis—not Covid coups.

It is not as if the United States was not warned. Covid-19 was the third outbreak of a Coronavirus this century—after SARS (2003) and MERS (2012). It had also watched the damage done by swine flu in 2009, Ebola in 2014, and Zika in 2016. For a while America looked prepared. Under Bill Clinton it created a National Pharmaceutical Stockpile to store supplies. George W. Bush warned the American public to beware of a global pandemic, declaring that “if we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late to prepare.” Barack Obama drew up ambitious plans to produce twenty million reusable face masks and cheap ventilators. But when the stockpile was tapped to deal with swine flu, Ebola, and Zika, the supplies were never fully replaced. And Trump cared even less. In 2018, the National Security Council’s “pandemic preparedness” team was dissolved, and the next year the administration withdrew an epidemiologist it had embedded with China’s epidemic unit.


Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years by Richard Watson

Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Black Swan, call centre, carbon footprint, cashless society, citizen journalism, commoditize, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, deglobalization, digital Maoism, disintermediation, epigenetics, failed state, financial innovation, Firefox, food miles, future of work, global pandemic, global supply chain, global village, hive mind, industrial robot, invention of the telegraph, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, linked data, low cost airline, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, mass immigration, Northern Rock, peak oil, pensions crisis, precision agriculture, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, self-driving car, speech recognition, telepresence, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing test, Victor Gruen, white flight, women in the workforce, Zipcar

I thought long and hard about including fear and anxiety in this list, but in the end I decided to add them to a list of 5 things that won’t change over the next 50 years, which appears at the very end of the book. Why these 5 key trends? Any list is inevitably highly personal and subjective, but ageing is hard to disagree with. Indeed, demographic trends are more certain than virtually anything else because short of a global pandemic, nuclear annihilation or rogue asteroids, we can be pretty sure how many people will be around in 50 years’ time based on how many are already here and on current death and fertility rates. Global connectivity is a little less certain, not least because there are some good arguments about the end of globalization and the emergence of (re)localization. For example, resource scarcity plus the rise of China, India and the Middle East (the socalled CHIME nations) could drive economic protectionism in the Introduction 11 West.

Industrial markets will split between luxury and low-cost options, with access to services like health and education, transport and 16 FUTURE FILES security similarly polarizing, depending on your ability to pay. The economic middle class will eventually disappear in most developed countries, with people either moving upwards into a new global managerial elite or downwards into a new enslaved working (or not working) class. Anxiety If “they” don’t get you, a global pandemic or high interest rates probably will. At least that’s how many people will feel in the future. Trust in institutions will all but evaporate and the speed of change will leave people longing for the past. This insecurity is to some extent generational, but whether you are 18 or 80 there will be a growing feeling of powerlessness and a continual state of anxiety that will fuel everything from an interest in nostalgia and escapism to a growth in narcissism and localization.

The average person now carries two to three times as much weight in their pockets and bags as they did two decades ago, so targeted personal fitness programs will soon have to appear unless someone invents a lightweight alternative or micro-payments become more widely accepted. Coins and banknotes could also disappear almost overnight for another reason. In all the recent talk about the consequences of a global pandemic, it appears to me that one important implication has been missed: banknotes and coins tend to be dirty, so people will refuse to handle them if they think they could be a conduit for disease. In Japan, some ATMs already heat banknotes as a precautionary hygiene measure; in an age of anxiety, “hot money” could be a very cool idea. Traveling to other countries like South Korea you get another glimpse of the future of money.


The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel

clean water, coronavirus, global pandemic, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, out of africa, trade route, wikimedia commons

It turned out that one of the perks of the job was free beer; they never drank water. Equally, none of the 450 inmates of the local workhouse fell ill. The workhouse had its own water supply and never used the pump. Modern outbreaks During the second half of the nineteenth century, when people were provided with efficient sewers and clean drinking water, cholera largely disappeared in the developed world and the great global pandemics were consigned to history. However, the disease continues to be a threat when sanitary conditions are poor in countries where it is endemic, particularly when the infrastructure is damaged by natural disasters or war. In 1961 a new, less deadly strain of the bacterium, known as El Tor, caused a pandemic that started in Indonesia and spread to Bangladesh, India, the Middle East, North Africa and by 1973 into Italy.

Transmission Transmitted to humans by wild animals, then spreads from person to person through body fluids Symptoms Fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, haemorrhaging Incidence and deaths 28,616 cases in the 2014–16 epidemic and 11,310 deaths. Average case fatality rate is around 50 per cent. Prevalence Two isolated outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the global pandemic of 2014–16 Prevention In affected areas, avoid contact with: body fluids; infected medical equipment and bedding, and bats and non-human primates and bush meat from these animals Treatment No proven treatment but treatments for different symptoms and support to maintain the body’s functions Global strategy Fast containment of outbreaks combined with health education for health workers and general population An illustration of a cross-section through an ebola virus particle.


pages: 138 words: 40,525

This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook by Extinction Rebellion

3D printing, autonomous vehicles, banks create money, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, feminist movement, full employment, gig economy, global pandemic, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job automation, mass immigration, Peter Thiel, place-making, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, Sam Altman, smart grid, supply-chain management, the scientific method, union organizing, urban sprawl, wealth creators

Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the ageing process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from the very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape. There’s nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society. But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else. It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability and complexity.

In essence, zero-carbon targets save cities by starting to untangle the energy system that keeps capitalism, and our ceaseless growth paradigm, going. That’s the big challenge. The second big area of action is transport. This is about the urgent task of how and why we need to lock down city car culture. Almost all modern ills can be understood through the rise of the private fossil-fuel-powered automobile: unnecessary road deaths, the global pandemic of urban air pollution, mounting greenhouse-gas emissions, geopolitical wars, the concentration of corporate wealth and mounting consumer debt, depression, status anxiety, obesity, alienated streetscapes, the decline of vibrant public life and the corrosive effects of individualism. We simply need to lock down city car culture: privatized, corporate-led, fossil-fuel-hungry automobile dependency, and growth-based planning.


pages: 288 words: 85,073

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund

animal electricity, clean water, colonial rule, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, global pandemic, Hans Rosling, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), jimmy wales, linked data, lone genius, microcredit, purchasing power parity, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steven Pinker, Thomas L Friedman, Walter Mischel

Or, “It’s all hopeless. There’s nothing we can do. Time to give up.” Either way, we stop thinking, give in to our instincts, and make bad decisions. The Five Global Risks We Should Worry About I do not deny that there are pressing global risks we need to address. I am not an optimist painting the world in pink. I don’t get calm by looking away from problems. The five that concern me most are the risks of global pandemic, financial collapse, world war, climate change, and extreme poverty. Why is it these problems that cause me most concern? Because they are quite likely to happen: the first three have all happened before and the other two are happening now; and because each has the potential to cause mass suffering either directly or indirectly by pausing human progress for many years or decades. If we fail here, nothing else will work.

These are mega killers that we must avoid, if at all possible, by acting collaboratively and step-by-step. (There is a sixth candidate for this list. It is the unknown risk. It is the probability that something we have not yet even thought of will cause terrible suffering and devastation. That is a sobering thought. While it is truly pointless worrying about something unknown that we can do nothing about, we must also stay curious and alert to new risks, so that we can respond to them.) Global Pandemic The Spanish flu that spread across the world in the wake of the First World War killed 50 million people—more people than the war had, although that was partly because the populations were already weakened after four years of war. As a result, global life expectancy fell by ten years, from 33 to 23, as you can see from the dip in the curve here. Serious experts on infectious diseases agree that a new nasty kind of flu is still the most dangerous threat to global health.

They still show suspect cases, and the CDC[3] continues to use the high estimates, which include suspected and unconfirmed cases. The five global risks. For a fact-based view of a longer list of major risks, see Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years, by Smil (2008). For those who find numbers calming, this is where you will find the big picture of the proportional risks and uncertainties of all kinds of possible fatal discontinuities. See gapm.io/furgr. The risk of global pandemic. A small version of Spanish flu is more likely than a large one; see Smil (2008). While we should work against the obscene overuse of antibiotics in the meat industry—see WHO[14]—at the same time we must be careful not to make the mistake we made with DDT and become overprotective. Antibiotics could save even more lives if they were even less expensive. See gapm.io/tgerm. The risk of financial collapse.


pages: 372 words: 101,678

Lessons from the Titans: What Companies in the New Economy Can Learn from the Great Industrial Giants to Drive Sustainable Success by Scott Davis, Carter Copeland, Rob Wertheimer

3D printing, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, airport security, barriers to entry, business cycle, business process, clean water, commoditize, coronavirus, corporate governance, COVID-19, Covid-19, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, factory automation, global pandemic, hydraulic fracturing, Internet of things, iterative process, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Marc Andreessen, megacity, Network effects, new economy, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, random walk, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, skunkworks, software is eating the world, strikebreaker, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, winner-take-all economy

The NMA project was dropped as part of a broader rethinking of what future product development processes should look like, and PFS was eliminated from the vocabulary of those in supply chain–facing roles. Boeing realized the need to focus on rebuilding trust with the stakeholder groups (regulators, employees, suppliers, the flying public) that had taken a backseat to shareholders for an extended period of time. Sadly, these actions were lost in the noise of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which only two months into Calhoun’s tenure called the company’s future into question. To continue to produce MAX aircraft during the grounding, Boeing took on billions of dollars in debt and swung from a position of net cash to a position of net debt for the first time since the 787 crisis earlier in the decade. Funds supported ongoing MAX production in the supply chain and payments to customers for delivery delays.

In hindsight, Boeing’s bet on a quick recovery was incredibly unlucky and ill-advised, and it left the company seeking government support, something unimaginable when the company’s stock was soaring to all-time highs just before the MAX crisis only a year earlier. The swing from the world’s most valuable industrial company to one whose liquidity and solvency were being questioned in such a short period of time is still mind-boggling. While almost no one foresaw the extent of the impact that a global pandemic could have on the market for airplanes, it undoubtedly will redefine how everyone evaluates the future. And just like the crises that preceded it, it will forever reshape how the company and all its stakeholders evaluate risk. POSTMORTEM Over much of the last three decades, Boeing has struggled to effectively balance the needs of key stakeholder groups, overemphasizing the importance of one or two for extended periods of time.

Drawing the lines on customer data use and weighing them against the pursuit of profit and higher share prices is a similar evaluation. It’s inevitable that the influence of nonfinancial and nonemployee stakeholders will only continue to rise in the future. And the industry is not immune from its own megacrisis. In fact, cybersecurity threats for Big Tech could prove to be the equivalent of a global pandemic for industrial firms and travel-focused companies. Boeing’s task in the 2020s is now unprecedented. Successfully recovering from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic dominates the focus in the short term. Finding a stable financial position and building a sufficient cash buffer for future crises will inevitably be a primary focus for several years. However, this effort has to come alongside managing safety and quality risks first, while not losing discipline on the cost, schedule, and development fronts.


pages: 1,293 words: 357,735

The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett

Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, biofilm, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of penicillin, double helix, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, global village, indoor plumbing, invention of air conditioning, John Snow's cholera map, land reform, Live Aid, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, megacity, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, phenotype, price mechanism, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, South China Sea, the scientific method, trade route, transfer pricing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Zimmermann PGP

If this constant process of genetic shuffling didn’t frequently yield new types of hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, all target humans could eventually be immune to influenza and the virus species might die out. While the chances of the planet’s entire human population becoming immune to a rare virus such as Ebola were nil, it was possible that an easily transmitted, ubiquitous respiratory virus like influenza would infect billions of human beings in less than five years’ time, kill off all the susceptibles, and leave the world’s survivors completely immune. Global pandemics were, in fact, a hallmark of influenza that spanned recorded human history. Charlemagne’s conquest of Europe was slowed by an A.D. 876 flu epidemic that spread across the continent and claimed much of his army. Many suspected influenza epidemics followed, though history can only vaguely discriminate between ancient accounts of influenza and other respiratory diseases. In 1580, however, the world was clearly hit by a major pandemic that followed trade and early colonial routes across Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

Kilbourne showed that the viruses’ neuraminidase proteins would snip the tethers, freeing the newly formed microbes to enter the lungs, nasal fluids or tears of an ailing human, from there going on to infect another person. The greater the number of neuraminidase molecules, Kilbourne argued, the more rapidly viruses could complete their budding process and spread. In essence, Kilbourne had found a possible key to both high transmissibility and virulence, explaining why some epidemics produced viruses that rapidly flooded the bloodstreams of infected people and readily became global pandemics, while others caused fairly localized mild outbreaks.13 He proved his point by quantifying the density of neuraminidase proteins on the surface of the influenza strain responsible for the 1957 flu pandemic, a fairly severe wave that swept the world and claimed an estimated 60,000 American lives. That strain had the highest neuraminidase concentration of any influenza discovered since the 1930s.

Thucydides said of it, “No scourge so destructive of human life is anywhere on record. The physicians had to treat it without knowing its nature, and it was among them that the greatest mortality occurred.” It was later thought that the epidemic, which Thucydides said caused illness in every Athenian and killed up to half the population, was either typhus, the plague, or smallpox.7 Hundreds of great global pandemics followed. Four diseases that seemed to William McNeill and other medical historians of the 1970s to have gained particular benefit from the urban ecology over the previous 2,000 years were pneumonic plague, leprosy (Hansen’s disease), tuberculosis, and syphilis. As far as could be discerned from historical records, these were rarely—if ever—seen prior to the establishment of urban societies, and all four exploited to their advantage human conditions unique to cities.


pages: 513 words: 152,381

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity by Toby Ord

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, availability heuristic, Columbian Exchange, computer vision, cosmological constant, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Ernest Rutherford, global pandemic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, p-value, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, survivorship bias, the scientific method, uranium enrichment

We can’t rule out the loss of more than 90 percent of the population of the Americas during that century, though the number could also be much lower.12 And it is very difficult to tease out how much of this should be attributed to war and occupation, rather than disease. As a rough upper bound, the Columbian exchange may have killed as many as 10 percent of the world’s people.13 Centuries later, the world had become so interconnected that a truly global pandemic was possible. Near the end of the First World War, a devastating strain of influenza (known as the 1918 flu or Spanish Flu) spread to six continents, and even remote Pacific islands. At least a third of the world’s population were infected and 3 to 6 percent were killed.14 This death toll outstripped that of the First World War, and possibly both World Wars combined. Yet even events like these fall short of being a threat to humanity’s longterm potential.15 In the great bubonic plagues we saw civilization in the affected areas falter, but recover.

Foot-and-mouth was considered a highest category pathogen and required the highest level of biosecurity. Yet the virus escaped from a badly maintained pipe, leaking into the groundwater at the facility. After an investigation, the lab’s license was renewed—only for another leak to occur two weeks later.30 In my view, this track record of escapes shows that even BSL-4 is insufficient for working on pathogens that pose a risk of global pandemics on the scale of the 1918 flu or worse—especially if that research involves gain-of-function (and the extremely dangerous H5N1 gain-of-function research wasn’t even performed at BSL-4).31 Thirteen years since the last publicly acknowledged outbreak from a BSL-4 facility is not good enough. It doesn’t matter whether this is from insufficient standards, inspections, operations or penalties. What matters is the poor track record in the field, made worse by a lack of transparency and accountability.

They attracted several thousand members, including people with advanced skills in chemistry and biology. And they demonstrated that it was not mere misanthropic ideation. They launched multiple lethal attacks using VX gas and sarin gas, killing 22 people and injuring thousands.50 They attempted to weaponize anthrax, but did not succeed. What happens when the circle of people able to create a global pandemic becomes wide enough to include members of such a group? Or members of a terrorist organization or rogue state that could try to build an omnicidal weapon for the purposes of extortion or deterrence? The main candidate for biological risk over the coming decades thus stems from our technology—particularly the risk of misuse by states or small groups. But this is not a case where the world is blissfully unaware of the risks.


pages: 343 words: 101,563

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, endowment effect, energy transition, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, failed state, fiat currency, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, life extension, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, postindustrial economy, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Whole Earth Catalog, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

What this means is that at three degrees of warming, our likely benchmark for the end of the century, the United States might be dealing with sixteen times as much devastation from fire as we are today, when in a single year ten million acres were burned. At four degrees of warming, the fire season would be four times worse still. The California fire captain believes the term is already outdated: “We don’t even call it fire season anymore,” he said in 2017. “Take the ‘season’ out—it’s year-round.” But wildfires are not an American affliction; they are a global pandemic. In icy Greenland, fires in 2017 appeared to burn ten times more area than in 2014; and in Sweden, in 2018, forests in the Arctic Circle went up in flames. Fires that far north may seem innocuous, relatively speaking, since there are not so many people up there. But they are increasing more rapidly than fires in lower latitudes, and they concern climate scientists greatly: the soot and ash they give off can land on and blacken ice sheets, which then absorb more of the sun’s rays and melt more quickly.

For Rushkoff, these are all facets of the same impulse, broadly shared by the class of visionaries and power brokers and venture capitalists whose dreams for the future are received as blueprints, especially by the armies of engineers they command like impetuous fiefdoms—investing in new forms of space travel, life extension, and technology-aided life after death. “They were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion,” he writes. “For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.” “An Account of My Hut”: Christina Nichol, “An Account of My Hut,” n+1, Spring 2018. Nichol explains the title this way: I once read a story called “An Account of My Hut,” by Kamo no Chōmei, a 12th-century Japanese hermit. Chōmei describes how after witnessing a fire, an earthquake, and a typhoon in Kyoto, he leaves society and goes to live in a hut.


pages: 367 words: 102,188

Sleepyhead: Narcolepsy, Neuroscience and the Search for a Good Night by Henry Nicholls

A. Roger Ekirch, Donald Trump, double helix, Drosophila, global pandemic, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, placebo effect, Saturday Night Live, stem cell, web application, Yom Kippur War

By the end of April, there had been reports of serious flu-like disease in every one of Mexico’s 31 states, with 1918 suspected cases and 84 deaths. By then, geneticists had identified the strain of the virus as H1N1, the very same as the Spanish influenza responsible for the global flu pandemic in 1918, estimated to have killed somewhere between 50 to 100 million people. With cases of swine flu being confirmed across the world, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in June. In short, in the middle of 2009 there was intense institutional fear that the swine flu could bring about a repeat of the Spanish flu. Pharmaceutical companies were soon bidding for multimillion-dollar contracts to rush out a vaccine before the flu season really got under way in the winter months of the northern hemisphere. From September onwards, several different vaccines – all designed to protect against swine flu but subtly different in their manufacture – began to roll off production lines around the world.

p. 145 every November there’s a trough Fang Han and others, ‘Narcolepsy Onset Is Seasonal and Increased Following the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic in China’, Annals of Neurology 70.3 (2011), 410–17. p. 147 84 deaths ‘Outbreak of Swine-Origin Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infection – Mexico, March–April 2009’, Press Release from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 April 2009 <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm58d0430a2.htm> [accessed 24 October 2017]. p. 147 global pandemic Declan Butler, ‘Flu Pandemic Underway’, Nature News, 11 June 2009 <https://doi.org/10.1038/news.2009.564>. p. 148 that was really the key Markku Partinen, Interview with author, 5 January 2016. p. 150 near-permanent somnolence Josh Hadfield and Caroline Hadfield, Interview with author, 14 August 2015. p. 150 Pandemrix Markku Partinen and others, ‘Increased Incidence and Clinical Picture of Childhood Narcolepsy Following the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic Vaccination Campaign in Finland’, PLoS ONE, 7.3 (2012), e33723 <https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033723>.


pages: 414 words: 101,285

The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do About It by Ian Goldin, Mike Mariathasan

"Robert Solow", air freight, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, butterfly effect, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, connected car, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, diversification, diversified portfolio, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, energy security, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, income inequality, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, John Snow's cholera map, Kenneth Rogoff, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, mass immigration, megacity, moral hazard, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, open economy, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reshoring, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, trade liberalization, transaction costs, uranium enrichment

Complex system researchers Dirk Brockmann, Lars Hufnagel, and Theo Geisel simulated the effects of a single individual infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) placed anywhere in the world using data that accounted for 95 percent of the entire global civil aviation traffic and assuming virulence equivalent to that of SARS.32 Whereas in previous centuries the insular nature of parochial communities would contain such an infection and give the authorities time to consider their options, now two plane journeys on average would require the vaccination of 75 percent of the world’s population to avoid a global pandemic. After three flights, global vaccination would be required. This simulation illustrates an inevitable consequence of increased integration, but its message is not simply theoretical. SARS reached 30 countries and affected 8,400 people within only nine months of its detection in November 2002. Similarly, “bird flu” (H5N1), first detected in 2003, spread through the interconnected global agricultural network and had reached 38 countries by 2007.33 We are fortunate that the wide and rapid spread of these pandemics had a relatively mild impact, as we show in our detailed analysis of pandemics in this book.

Scientific studies indicate that migratory wildfowl have the potential to carry H5N1 but suggest that “the likelihood of … virus dispersal over long distances … is low” and “estimate that for an individual migratory bird there are, on average, only 5–15 days per year when infection could result in the dispersal of H5N1 virus over 500 km.”52 The transfer of live birds and animals by airfreight and ships, however, means that these pathogens can now travel faster and farther than before and do not have to rely on the long-distance migration of birds. In short, modern technologies significantly heighten the risk of global pandemics. Figure 6.3. Destination cities and corresponding volumes of international passengers arriving from Mexico, 1 March–30 April 2008. Kamran Khan et al., 2009, “Spread of a Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus via Global Airline Transportation,” New England Journal of Medicine 361 (2): 212–214. © 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society. Used with permission. Swine Flu The third disease to have achieved pandemic or near-pandemic status in the twenty-first century is H1N1, widely termed “swine flu.”


pages: 323 words: 95,939

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global pandemic, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, lateral thinking, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero-sum game

Now, because they are all connected, markets cannot fall alone. A collapse in one small European nation also takes down the many overseas banks that have leveraged its debt. There’s nowhere to invest that’s insulated from any other market’s problems. Likewise, thanks to the interconnectedness of our food supply and transportation networks, the outbreak of a disease on the poultry farms of China necessarily threatens to become a global pandemic. A connected world is like a table covered with loaded mousetraps. If one trap snaps, the rest of the table will follow in rapid, catastrophic succession. Like a fight between siblings in the back of the car on a family trip, it doesn’t matter who started it. Everybody is in it, now. Along with most technology hopefuls of the twentieth century, I was one of the many pushing for more connectivity and openness as the millennium approached.

Still, a promise is a promise, so I won’t tell you in which Midwestern state (starts with K) “Dan” (not his real name) has built the bunker he believes will be capable of sustaining him and his family through the apocalypse. “I don’t mean apocalypse in the religious way,” Dan explains as he escorts me down the single spiral metal staircase leading to the living quarters. (Hard to get out in a fire, I suppose, but easier to defend if attacked.) “I’m thinking Contagion, Asteroid, even China Syndrome,” he explains, using movie-title shorthand for global pandemic, collision with an asteroid, or nuclear meltdown. He is used to being interviewed. “What about The Day After Tomorrow?” I suggest, bringing climate change into the mix. “Not likely,” Dan says. “That’s been debunked.” Dan is a former real estate assessor who now makes his living selling information online to “preppers” like himself, who have assumed that catastrophe is imminent and that the best way through is to prepare for the inevitable collapse of civilization as we know it.


Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney

Albert Einstein, British Empire, colonial rule, dark matter, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, experimental subject, Francisco Pizarro, global pandemic, Hernando de Soto, invisible hand, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, placebo effect, trade route, urban renewal

The residents of Cape Coast, Ghana called it Mowure Kodwo after a Mr Kodwo from the village of Mouri who was the first person to die of it in that area.3 Across Africa, the disease was fixed for perpetuity in the names of age cohorts born around that time. Among the Igbo of Nigeria, for example, those born between 1919 and 1921 were known as ogbo ifelunza, the influenza age group. ‘Ifelunza’, an obvious corruption of ‘influenza’, became incorporated into the Igbo lexicon for the first time that autumn. Before that, they had had no word for the disease. As time went on, and it transpired that there were not many local epidemics, but one global pandemic–it became necessary to agree on a single name. The one that was adopted was the one that was already being used by the most powerful nations on earth–the victors in the Great War. The pandemic became known as the Spanish flu–ispanka, espanhola, la grippe espagnole, die Spanische Grippe–and a historical wrong became set in stone. 6 The doctors’ dilemma The flu had been named; the foe had a face.

Individual social class, household wealth and mortality from Spanish influenza in two socially contrasting parishes in Kristiania 1918–19’, Social Science & Medicine, February 2006; 62(4):923–40. 2. C. E. A. Winslow and J. F. Rogers, ‘Statistics of the 1918 epidemic of influenza in Connecticut’, Journal of Infectious Diseases, 1920; 26:185–216. 3. C. J. L. Murray et al., ‘Estimation of potential global pandemic influenza mortality on the basis of vital registry data from the 1918–20 pandemic: a quantitative analysis’, Lancet, 2006; 368:2211–18. 4. C. Lim, ‘The pandemic of the Spanish influenza in colonial Korea’, Korea Journal, Winter 2011:59–88. 5. D. Hardiman, ‘The influenza epidemic of 1918 and the Adivasis of Western India’, Social History of Medicine, 2012; 25(3):644–64. 6. P. Zylberman, ‘A holocaust in a holocaust: the Great War and the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic in France’, in Phillips and Killingray (eds.), p. 199. 7.


pages: 352 words: 104,411

Rush Hour: How 500 Million Commuters Survive the Daily Journey to Work by Iain Gately

Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, Beeching cuts, blue-collar work, Boris Johnson, British Empire, business intelligence, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, car-free, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, congestion charging, connected car, corporate raider, DARPA: Urban Challenge, Dean Kamen, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, don't be evil, Elon Musk, extreme commuting, global pandemic, Google bus, Henri Poincaré, Hyperloop, Jeff Bezos, lateral thinking, low skilled workers, Marchetti’s constant, postnationalism / post nation state, Ralph Waldo Emerson, remote working, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, telepresence, Tesla Model S, urban planning, éminence grise

It empowers people to separate their work and home lives, and both require face time to function. Unless and until we evolve into creatures that have no such needs, and have erased the desires to hunt and gather from our nature, there will be a Clapham omnibus, or its latter-day equivalent, ferrying people between their places of labour and rest. Unless, of course, we won’t have to work in the future, or companionship goes out of fashion after, say, a deadly global pandemic. Would we then commute for nostalgia, or even pleasure? Has commuting worked its way so deep into our culture that we’d find it hard to give up absolutely? Or would we frown on it, as we do slavery and burning witches, as belonging to an ignorant, violent and primitive past? People have been predicting both the imminent demise and the perpetual rise of commuting almost since it started. There was a fad for futurology in the late Victorian era when a multitude of utopias and dystopias were formulated to titillate readers with visions of the future.

The opposing school, in contrast, predicts that no one will be able to commute in the future because – eventually – we will be too many, rather than fewer. But there’s no need to fear 9 billion, or indeed 9,000 billion. In a 1964 essay, ‘How Many People Can the World Support?’, John Heaver Fremlin, an English physicist, argued that limitations on human population growth were determined by physics rather than biology. Barring catastrophes such as a meteorite strike, an apocalyptic war or a deadly global pandemic; and assuming that the entire surface of the planet, ‘land and sea alike’, was covered with 2,000-storey buildings; that people ate their dead and their sewage; that both the north and south poles had been melted on purpose; and there was absolute and eternal world peace; then mother earth could carry up to 60,000,000,000,000,000 (sixty thousand trillion) people by around the year 2964. Any more, however, would be pushing the laws of physics.


pages: 482 words: 117,962

Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future by Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron, Meera Balarajan

Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, conceptual framework, creative destruction, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, endogenous growth, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, global supply chain, guest worker program, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Lao Tzu, life extension, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Malacca Straits, mass immigration, microcredit, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, old age dependency ratio, open borders, out of africa, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, Richard Florida, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, spice trade, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, women in the workforce, working-age population

Similarly, the British government sent convicts to Australia rather than Gemane Island on the Gambia River, because of the high risk of disease in the Gambia.26 The inhospitality of West Africa provided opportunities for the relatives of African slaves to later move to Sierra Leone and Liberia.27 Ending the biological isolation of parts of the world would eventually make it possible for people to travel easily between countries and climates—and it would also enable the rapid spread of global pandemics—but during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the devastation wrought by disease had wide-ranging consequences. The traumatic depopulation of the Americas opened the way for the gradual European settlement and domination of the continent. In Africa, the lower indigenous susceptibility to European diseases (because of historical contact) and the inhibiting presence of yellow fever and malaria meant that African populations and culture retained their integrity in the absence of overwhelming European domination.28 However, it also meant that African slaves were preferred to European convict and indentured labor in the Caribbean, because of their resistance to tropical diseases.29 Until the 1830s, forced African migrants outnumbered both free and indentured Europeans in the Americas.30 Between 500 BCE and 1200 CE, Eurasia experienced a process of what epidemiologists term “viral reservoir integration” as contact between civilizations intensified; most of the “historically significant biological exchange” in Afro-Eurasia had occurred by 1400 CE.31 The “pathocenosis” (or the codevelopment of disease and populations, including their immunity) in Eurasia was quite separate from that which occurred in the Americas centuries later.

In the early nineteenth century, Britain banned the emigration of skilled workers as it was industrializing, but many left anyway—recruited by employers in France, Germany, Russia, and America.2 More recently, some academics have argued for severe limitations on immigration to avoid unsustainable population growth (although most have stopped short of advocating zero immigration).3In the UK, David Cameron, the Conservative Party prime minister, has indicated his support for limiting the population to below 70 million to contain the “very great pressures on public services.”4 There is also a growing chorus calling for limits on immigration for environmental reasons.5 Stephen Nickell highlights the need for more research into how the environmental and other costs associated with more migration may be offset by the longer term benefits and suggests that a case may be made for limiting migration on environmental grounds particularly where space is limited.6 A country may close its borders temporarily to prevent the spread of disease, as some analysts have speculated would occur in the case of a global pandemic.7 In our globalized world, it would be unusual for border closure to be more than a short-term response to particular threats or political pressures. Globalization has knit countries together in a dynamic network of cross-border exchange, of which migration is a constituent element. Most countries rely on global networks for a significant share of their GDP. Furthermore, even with the availability of information over the Internet and satellite networks, without people crossing borders, the dynamic processes of fertilization, invention, and imitation would simply atrophy.


pages: 437 words: 113,173

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global pandemic, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial cluster, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Johannes Kepler, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low cost airline, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, mass immigration, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, Pearl River Delta, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, The Future of Employment, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uber lyft, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day

Nothing but good luck prevents nature from duplicating this result. The day we all hear of reliable human-to-human airborne transmission of H5N1, the world will come to a sharp stop. Would you get on a plane, knowing that a highly infectious virus with a 60 percent kill rate might be on board with you? In reality, you won’t face this choice: protocols already in place will shut borders and halt air traffic globally. Pandemic models show that a human H5N1 virus could easily surpass the Black Death of 1348–1350 as humanity’s deadliest known extinction event. Depending on how early the pandemic is detected and how quickly a vaccine can be deployed, epidemiologists estimate that an H5N1 outbreak could infect up to one billion people and directly cause up to 150 million deaths.*** Panic, riots, looting—in general, a fear-fueled breakdown of social order—could push the death toll even higher.

On the other hand, the challenges are getting tougher. The complexities are growing. Recent simulations have shown that a contagious airborne pathogen (like H5N1) carried into any major airport, on any continent, would be global within three days at most.41 If the infected individual took just two plane journeys prior to a public health quarantine, more than 5 billion people (75 percent of humanity) would need to be vaccinated to prevent a global pandemic. After three flights, global vaccination would be required.42 The concentration dilemmas are getting thornier. It is not a question of if, but when, a pandemic will strike a major political, financial or industrial center and force its complete (albeit temporary) isolation from all physical flows in the global system—with hard-to-predict consequences for infrastructure services like energy and IT.


pages: 178 words: 52,637

Quality Investing: Owning the Best Companies for the Long Term by Torkell T. Eide, Lawrence A. Cunningham, Patrick Hargreaves

air freight, Albert Einstein, backtesting, barriers to entry, buy and hold, cashless society, cloud computing, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, discounted cash flows, discovery of penicillin, endowment effect, global pandemic, haute couture, hindsight bias, low cost airline, mass affluent, Network effects, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, shareholder value, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, supply-chain management

With Nordisk dominating in Scandinavia, Novo focused overseas. Both companies grew significantly and at the time of the reunification, which brought an end to over 60 years of competition, they were the second and third ranked players in the diabetes space, behind Eli Lilly. Diabetes treatment now accounts for around three-quarters of Novo Nordisk’s profit. The incidence of diabetes globally has increased rapidly in the last decade, driven by the global pandemic of obesity – now numbering more than 600 million people and forecast to continue rising. Demand for diabetes treatment will, we believe, increase more rapidly due to rising diagnosis rates; as will the continued need for better treatments and broader reach of care (fewer than 10% of afflicted people receive effective care). Novo Nordisk has benefited from these trends, growing organic revenue growth at a 12% compound annual growth rate over the past decade along with a 19% growth rate in earnings.


Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom, Milan M. Cirkovic

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, availability heuristic, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black Swan, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, death of newspapers, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, feminist movement, framing effect, friendly AI, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, global village, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, P = NP, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, Singularitarianism, social intelligence, South China Sea, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Tunguska event, twin studies, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty, Westphalian system, Y2K

Whereas smallpox kills up to a third of its victims, certain strains of the hemorrhagic fever viruses, like Ebola-Zaire, can kill up to 90% of the infected ­ within several days after symptoms surface. Since 1 976, when Ebola first appeared in Zaire, there have been intermittent outbreaks of the disease, often along Sub-Saharan African rainforests where the virus is transmitted from other primates to humans. The remoteness of these regions, and the rapid pace by which these viruses kill their human host, have thus far precluded a global pandemic. H owever, if these pathogens were procured, aerosolized, and released in busy urban centres or hubs, a catastrophic pandemic might ensue - particularly because attempts to generate vaccines to Ebola have, thus far, proven unsuccessful. In 1992, the Aum Shinrikyo sent a medical team to Zaire in what is believed to have been an attempt to procure Ebola virus ( Kaplan, 2000) . While the attempt was unsuccessful, the event provides an example of a terrorist group apparently intending to make use of a contagious virus.

Reducing the global burden of acute lower respiratory infections in children: the contribution of new diagnostics. Nature, 444 ( Suppl. 1 ) , 9-18. Lundstrom, M . (January 2003). Enhanced: Moore's law forever? Science, 299(5604), 2 1 0-2 1 1 . Moore, G . ( 1 9 April 1965). Cramming more components onto integrated circuits. Electronics Magazine, 1 14-1 17. Murray, C.)., Lopez, A.D., Chin, B., Feehan, D., and Hill, K. H . (23 December 2006). Estimation of potential global pandemic influenza mortality on the basis of vital registry data from the 1918-20 pandemic: a quantitative analysis. The Lancet, 368(9554) , 2 2 1 1-22 18. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. (2004). The 9/1 1 Commission Report (New York: W.W. Norton). National Research Council. (2003a). Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism: Confronting the 'Dual Use' Dilemma. (Washington, DC: National Academies Press).

103 Gilovich, T. 99 GIRO 1 74, 182 GISP2 ice core, effect ofToba eruption 207 glaciation cycles 268, 358 effects on biodiversity 256 Milankovitch theory 240-1 relationship to cosmic ray flux 2 5 1 -2 Global Brain scenario 80 global catastrophic risk study as a single field 1-2 taxonomy 2-6 global cooling after asteroid impact 2 3 1 nuclear winter 208, 381, 390-2 as result of dust shower 2 3 3 volcanic eruptions 2 0 5 , 207-9, 2 10, 2 1 3 , 269-71 globalization, pandemic risk 1 7 global nuclear war 388-9 nuclear winter 390-2 Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN), WHO 471 Global Public Health Information Network ( G P H I N ) , WHO 470, 471 global totalitarianism 26, 67, 509-10 probability 5 16-17 risk factors politics 5 1 2-14 molecular manufacturing 492-4, 498 technology 5 1 1-12 risk management politics 5 1 5-16 technology 5 14-1 5 global war, risk from molecular manufacturing 489-92, 496-7, 498-9 global warming viii-ix, 5, 1 5 , 185, 243-4, 258 after asteroid impact 2 3 1 agricultural consequences 6 5 cost-benefit analysis 192-200 due to brightening of Sun 34 historical 1 91-2 public policy 191-200 Kyoto Protocol 190-1 relationship to solar activity 250-1 sea level rise, evolutionary consequences 5 5 gluons 350 Index 540 God, anthropomorphic bias 3 1 0 Goiania radiological incident (1987), psychological consequences 430 Goleman, D. 62 good cause dump 106 Good, I .


pages: 223 words: 58,732

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, affirmative action, Airbnb, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, carried interest, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, computer age, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, George Santayana, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, global supply chain, illegal immigration, imperial preference, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, liberal capitalism, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, moral panic, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, one-China policy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, telepresence, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra

By that measure the global elites have something to hide – although I believe they are concealing it mainly from themselves. The more our elites call for ‘thought leadership’ and ‘disruptive thinking’, the less they seem to mean it. Buzz terms, such as resiliency, global governance, multi-stakeholder collaboration and digital public square, are the answer to every problem, regardless of its nature. Too many wars happening? We need more collaboration. High risk of another global pandemic? More stakeholder participation. Populist revolts convulsing the Western world? We must rebuild trust in global governance. For every risk, Davos offers an identikit fix. Most of its Latinate prose sounds innocuous. But the lexicon betrays a worldview that is inherently wary of public opinion. Democracy is never a cure. If the middle classes are angry, they should listen more closely. Here was Davos’s 2015 solution to economic populism: ‘Without trust, no decisions at the international level will be taken.


pages: 181 words: 62,775

Half Empty by David Rakoff

airport security, Buckminster Fuller, dark matter, double helix, global pandemic, Google Earth, phenotype, RFID, twin studies, urban planning, urban renewal, wage slave, Wall-E, Y2K

Eventually it would be taken off the market when it came to light that the bacon bits were nothing more than highly salted, air-puffed balsa wood, but before all that there would be television commercials showing happy couples sprinkling their Seasons of Love® over salads, or laughingly feeding one another bites of baked potato festively speckled with the stuff, like someone had just celebrated New Year’s all over your food. In Rent, the characters live out their Seasons of Love in huge Manhattan lofts. Some of them have AIDS, which, coincidentally, is also the name of a dreaded global pandemic that is still raging and has killed millions of people worldwide. In Rent, AIDS seems only to render one cuter and cuter. The characters are artists. Creative types. Some of them are homosexual, and the ones who aren’t don’t seem to mind. They screen their calls and when it is their parents they roll their eyes. They hate their parents. They are never going back to Larchmont, no way. They will stay here, living in their two thousand square feet of picturesque poverty, being sexually free and creative.


pages: 213 words: 61,911

In defense of food: an eater's manifesto by Michael Pollan

back-to-the-land, cognitive dissonance, Community Supported Agriculture, Gary Taubes, global pandemic, placebo effect, Upton Sinclair

But though fast food may be good business for the health care industry, the cost to society—an estimated $250 billion a year in diet-related health care costs and rising rapidly—cannot be sustained indefinitely. An American born in 2000 has a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes in his lifetime; the risk is even greater for a Hispanic American or African American. A diagnosis of diabetes subtracts roughly twelve years from one’s life and living with the condition incurs medical costs of $13,000 a year (compared with $2,500 for someone without diabetes). This is a global pandemic in the making, but a most unusual one, because it involves no virus or bacteria, no microbe of any kind—just a way of eating. It remains to be seen whether we’ll respond by changing our diet or our culture and economy. Although an estimated 80 percent of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by a change of diet and exercise, it looks like the smart money is instead on the creation of a vast new diabetes industry.


pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson

23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, digital map, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Mark Shuttleworth, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

As for the USA, it is almost unique among OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations in having a population that is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010–2030. Moreover, the USA has a track record of successfully assimilating immigrants. As a result it’s likely to see a rise in the size of its working-age population and to witness strong economic growth over the longer term. Of course, all these estimates could be wildly off the mark. Perhaps another great famine, global pandemic or a world war could kill off billions of people, or maybe people will suddenly start having much larger families for reasons of economic survival or for status. In theory, demographic forecasting is a relatively scientific field, but in reality it can be subject to the vagaries of the future just like anything else. the condensed idea Too many people in some places, not enough in others timeline 10,000 BC World population 1 million 1810 World population 1 billion 1930 2 billion 1950 2.4 billion 1970 3.7 billion 1980 4.4 billion 1990 5.1 billion 2000 6.1 billion 2011 7 billion 2030 8 billion 2040 8.8 billion 2050 9.1 billion 2075 9.2 billion 10 Geo-engineering The Earth’s climate is changing and it’s probably our fault.


Little Hands Clapping by Dan Rhodes

global pandemic, young professional

Designed to help visitors put their problems into perspective, it had told various tales of human misfortune. Along with the accounts of sinking ships was a series of photographs of a village lost to a mudslide, only its skewed rooftops visible above the new ground level, then there had been a short video presentation about a city decimated by a cloud of toxic gas, and an interactive timeline of global pandemics. Pavarotti’s wife had been pleased with this room, but as time went by she started to worry that it might not lift everybody’s spirits in the way she had intended, that some people might think it just a little on the negative side. After many sleepless nights she had decided to dismantle it and approach the same territory from a more positive angle, one that was in no way open to misinterpretation.


pages: 285 words: 78,180

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life by J. Craig Venter

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Asilomar, Barry Marshall: ulcers, bioinformatics, borderless world, Brownian motion, clean water, discovery of DNA, double helix, epigenetics, experimental subject, global pandemic, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, phenotype, Richard Feynman, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing machine

Advanced algorithms are being developed to predict changes in the proportion of circulating virus subpopulations over time, to generate estimates for the best vaccine (and candidate vaccine) strains to provide protection, and to improve the predictive capability of strain selection. Another critical step toward advanced synthetic-based influenza vaccines is the integration and scale-up of synthetic vaccine seeds with full-scale manufacturing to enable commercial vaccine production. Novartis is starting to make this a reality—a reality that has enormous implications for the global pandemic response. The speed, ease, and accuracy with which higher-yielding influenza vaccine seeds can be produced using synthetic techniques promises not only more rapid future pandemic responses but a more reliable supply of pandemic influenza vaccines. While vaccines are the best means of prevention against pandemics, and synthetic biology has helped us to make them more effective, we are now facing another major threat from infection, as one of humankind’s most important weapons in the fight against disease, antibiotics, are rapidly becoming compromised.


pages: 252 words: 79,452

To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, cosmological principle, dark matter, disruptive innovation, double helix, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Extropian, friendly AI, global pandemic, impulse control, income inequality, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mars Rover, means of production, Norbert Wiener, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, uber lyft, Vernor Vinge

These dire warnings about AI were coming from what seemed the most unlikely of sources: not from Luddites or religious catastrophists, that is, but from the very people who seemed to most neatly personify our culture’s reverence for machines. One of the more remarkable phenomena in this area was the existence of a number of research institutes and think tanks substantially devoted to raising awareness about what was known as “existential risk”—the risk of absolute annihilation of the species, as distinct from mere catastrophes like climate change or nuclear war or global pandemics—and to running the algorithms on how we might avoid this particular fate. There was the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford, and the Centre for Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute in Berkeley, and the Future of Life Institute in Boston, which latter outfit featured on its board of scientific advisors not just prominent figures from science and technology like Musk and Hawking and the pioneering geneticist George Church, but also, for some reason, the beloved film actors Alan Alda and Morgan Freeman.


Blindside: How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics by Francis Fukuyama

Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, cognitive bias, cuban missile crisis, energy security, flex fuel, global pandemic, income per capita, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, John von Neumann, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Norbert Wiener, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, packet switching, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Yom Kippur War

Whether or not they come true in exactly the ways outlined here, the world’s business and government leaders will be immeasurably better off if they carefully consider how these scenarios could come to pass and act today to create maneuvering room for the radically different world that these game-changing events could create. 2990-7 ch10 lempert 7/23/07 12:13 PM Page 109 10 Can Scenarios Help Policymakers Be Both Bold and Careful? Robert Lempert S urprise, of both good and bad varieties, has become a ubiquitous feature of the world facing American policymakers. Leaders have come to expect adverse surprises, from terrorist attacks to global pandemics to signs that global warming is emerging faster than previously imagined. But many of the most serious, festering problems facing the United States—from encouraging a free, just, and stable global order to ensuring that the American middle class can thrive in a globalized world—also require leaders who can transform some of what seem like today’s inexorable trends. The need to nurture beneficial yet seemingly unlikely change, while avoiding a Pandora’s box of unintended consequences, poses a difficult challenge.


pages: 269 words: 72,752

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, anti-communist, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, Donald Trump, fear of failure, glass ceiling, global pandemic, impulse control, Maui Hawaii, zero-sum game

My best guess at the time was that that would occur through a disaster of his own making, such as an avoidable war he either provoked or stumbled into. I couldn’t have anticipated how many people would willingly enable his worst instincts, which have resulted in government-sanctioned kidnapping of children, detaining of refugees at the border, and betrayal of our allies, among other atrocities. And I couldn’t have foreseen that a global pandemic would present itself, allowing him to display his grotesque indifference to the lives of other people. Donald’s initial response to COVID-19 underscores his need to minimize negativity at all costs. Fear—the equivalent of weakness in our family—is as unacceptable to him now as it was when he was three years old. When Donald is in the most trouble, superlatives are no longer enough: both the situation and his reactions to it must be unique, even if absurd or nonsensical.


pages: 677 words: 206,548

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman

23andMe, 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Brian Krebs, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, data is the new oil, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, don't be evil, double helix, Downton Abbey, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, future of work, game design, global pandemic, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, High speed trading, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, illegal immigration, impulse control, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, license plate recognition, lifelogging, litecoin, low earth orbit, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, national security letter, natural language processing, obamacare, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, off grid, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, Parag Khanna, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, RAND corporation, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, security theater, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tesla Model S, The Future of Employment, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, uranium enrichment, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Wave and Pay, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, zero day

Yet by making a mere four genetic mutations, the Dutch-American team was able to engineer a much more virulent strain capable of going airborne, vastly increasing its transmissibility to human beings and effectively weaponizing it. The original goal of the research was to study how quickly H5N1 might evolve in order to better prevent its spread, but the genetically altered strain, if released, could readily lead to a global pandemic. In the name of science, the researchers wanted to publish their findings, including the genetic code of the more virulent strain they had created, in the journals Science and Nature, but many contended doing so would be akin to providing a recipe book to terrorists to build bioweapons. In the end, for the first time ever, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity stepped in and asked the journals to limit the details published, to which they temporarily agreed.

This does not mean these technologies should be banned, nor should they be locked away in government labs, given the vast potential for good they will bring, especially as they become democratized. Who knows what kid in Jaipur or what grandmother in Milwaukee while hacking away at synbio will make that game-changing cancer-fighting breakthrough we’ve all been hoping for? But it is also just as likely that among the masses will be those few bad actors who can use the same technologies to create a global pandemic. This should give us pause. We should be thinking more deeply and seriously about our use of exponential technologies, their downsides, and the potential for harm they may bring. Although space attacks, evil AI, and gray goo may be low on our list of personal priorities, far below the rush to pick up the kids at school, there are a mass of threats that demand our immediate attention. The critical infrastructures that run the world, from our energy grids to the financial markets, are under persistent attack, leaving us with a global information grid that is readily susceptible to a systemic crash.


pages: 286 words: 87,401

Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman, Chris Yeh

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, Bob Noyce, business intelligence, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, database schema, discounted cash flows, Elon Musk, Firefox, forensic accounting, George Gilder, global pandemic, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, late fees, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, transaction costs, transport as a service, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, web application, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, yellow journalism

Social media should be more transparent about who is paying for advertisements, and should require the same standards for truth in advertising as any other medium. On the other hand, there are technologies emerging from blitzscaling companies that could pose real, systemic problems (yet get far less media attention). Synthetic biology, driven by CRISPR-Cas9 targeted genome editing, has the potential to produce huge benefits in medicine and agribusiness, but brings with it the systemic risk of bad actors engineering a deadly global pandemic. Changes and developments in this field have occurred so quickly that it is difficult for governments to create intelligent regulatory regimes to manage these risks. Responsible blitzscalers should give serious considerations to systemic risks and seek structural dialogue that involves a broad set of stakeholders rather than defying or stonewalling regulators. Conversely, regulators shouldn’t assume that they know better than industry and make unilateral decisions.


pages: 286 words: 82,970

A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order by Richard Haass

access to a mobile phone, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, central bank independence, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, floating exchange rates, global pandemic, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, immigration reform, invisible hand, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, open economy, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, special drawing rights, Steven Pinker, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War

This school holds that absent crisis, decision makers will be unwilling or unable to do things differently. The problem with such thinking is that history suggests that crises do not automatically generate the impetus for necessary change on the scale that is required. There is as well the problem that crisis by definition can be extremely costly. Conflict between two or more powers, a nuclear event brought about by a state or terrorists, significant climate change, a global pandemic, the collapse of the world trade system—it would be hard to exaggerate the costs if any of these were to happen. Surely a better way would be to start moving toward an international order without waiting for a crisis. The case and the potential for doing so could hardly be more compelling. Acknowledgments Every book is to one degree or another a collaborative effort, and A World in Disarray is no exception.


pages: 306 words: 85,836

When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbus A320, airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, feminist movement, food miles, George Akerlof, global pandemic, information asymmetry, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, Netflix Prize, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Pareto efficiency, peak oil, pre–internet, price anchoring, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, Sam Peltzman, security theater, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, US Airways Flight 1549

Dianne Feinstein”: See “Senator Feinstein Urges Californians to Be Aware That Generic Drug Prices Vary Greatly From Pharmacy to Pharmacy,” May 8, 2006. / 53 “A comprehensive Wall Street Journal article”: Sarah Rubenstein, “Why Generic Doesn’t Always Mean Cheap,” The Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2007. 57 “FOR $25 MILLION, NO WAY . . .”: “The virtues of offering big prizes to encourage . . . curing disease”: See Levitt, “Fight Global Pandemics (or at Least Find a Good Excuse When You’re Playing Hooky),” Freakonomics.com, May 18, 2007; “or improving Netflix’s algorithms”: See Levitt, “Netflix $ Million Prize,” Freakonomics.com, October 6, 2006. / 59 “As reported by ABC News”: See Matthew Cole, “U.S. Will Not Pay $25 Million Osama Bin Laden Reward, Officials Say,” ABCNews.com, May 19, 2011. 61 “CAN WE PLEASE GET RID OF THE PENNY ALREADY?”


pages: 294 words: 87,429

In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's by Joseph Jebelli

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, double helix, epigenetics, global pandemic, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mouse model, phenotype, placebo effect, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Skype, stem cell, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

John Trojanowski, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has pointed out that the US spends more money on popcorn, Viagra and anti-ageing creams than Alzheimer’s research. This is astounding considering that an additional 7.7 million cases (that we know of) are reported every year. It seems a more horrifying kind of forgetting is taking place in our world. We are forgetting them. If things continue this way, epidemiologists estimate that the total number of Alzheimer’s cases will double every twenty years, making dementia the next global pandemic. In that event, the current 46 million patients would represent no more than the tip of a vast, society-crippling iceberg. So after a century of Alzheimer’s research, a journey that’s spanned the globe and brought with it a kaleidoscope of blind alleys, high hopes and stark tragedy, the final question is one that’s been with us from the very beginning. What is the future for this ‘peculiar’ disease?


pages: 304 words: 88,773

The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks. by Steven Johnson

call centre, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Dean Kamen, digital map, double helix, edge city, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, John Snow's cholera map, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, megacity, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, peak oil, side project, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, trade route, unbiased observer, working poor

In September 2004, health officials in Thailand began a program of vaccinating poultry workers with the conventional flu shots that are routinely doled out in Western countries at the start of flu season every year. For months, health experts around the world had been calling for precisely this intervention. This, in itself, was a telling phenomenon. Conventional flu vaccines are effective against only the type A and type B strains of influenza—the kind that sidelines you for a week with a fever and a stuffy head, but that is rarely fatal in anyone except the very young or the very old. The risk of a global pandemic emerging from these viruses is slim at best, which is why, historically, public-health officials in the West have not concerned themselves with the question of whether poultry workers on the other side of the world have received their flu shots. The virus that the public-health officials were worried about—H5N1, also known as the avian flu—is entirely unfazed by conventional flu shots. So why were so many global health organizations calling for vaccines in Asia?


pages: 292 words: 92,588

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell

Airbnb, carbon footprint, centre right, clean water, creative destruction, desegregation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, failed state, fixed income, Frank Gehry, global pandemic, Google Earth, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), megacity, Murano, Venice glass, New Urbanism, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, urban planning, urban renewal, wikimedia commons

During high tide, I waded knee-deep through dark ocean water in several Miami Beach neighborhoods; I saw high water backing up into working-class neighborhoods far to the west, near the border of the Everglades. It didn’t take a lot of imagination to see that I was standing in a modern-day Atlantis-in-the-making. It became clear to me just how poorly our world is prepared to deal with the rising waters. Unlike, say, a global pandemic, sea-level rise is not a direct threat to human survival. Early humans had no problem adapting to rising seas—they just moved to higher ground. But in the modern world, that’s not so easy. There’s a terrible irony in the fact that it’s the very infrastructure of the Fossil Fuel Age—the housing and office developments on the coasts, the roads, the railroads, the tunnels, the airports—that makes us most vulnerable.


pages: 321 words: 89,109

The New Gold Rush: The Riches of Space Beckon! by Joseph N. Pelton

3D printing, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, Carrington event, Colonization of Mars, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, global pandemic, Google Earth, gravity well, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, life extension, low earth orbit, Lyft, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, megastructure, new economy, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, post-industrial society, private space industry, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, Tim Cook: Apple, Tunguska event, uber lyft, urban planning, urban sprawl, wikimedia commons, X Prize

Awe and inspiration is the first reaction as to the magnitude of their goals. This is followed by concern and caution as to whether the world is ready to change so rapidly. With a world filled with tension and jihadist extremism and political leadership that sometimes has difficulty recognizing global challenges such as climate change, over generation of greenhouse gases, and the threat of global pandemics, it does at times seem doubtful that human are fit to colonize the world—let alone the universe. This is why we must look to innovation that produces more than neat new products. Rather, we need inventions that can usher in a sustainable world that can: (1) survive over the long term; (2) curb population growth ; (3) figure out the twenty first century human employment conundrum; and (4) create new economic systems that usher in a better and more productive future.


pages: 336 words: 93,672

The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists by Gary Marcus, Jeremy Freeman

23andMe, Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, bitcoin, brain emulation, cloud computing, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, Drosophila, epigenetics, global pandemic, Google Glasses, iterative process, linked data, mouse model, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, speech recognition, stem cell, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, Turing machine, twin studies, web application

In fact, we are personally becoming more and more enmeshed in systems whose emergent behavior can be very nontrivial and hard to predict, with sometimes far-reaching consequences for well-being and survival (think financial systems and climate change). Significant scientific efforts are underway to more accurately model how the dynamics of sociotechnological systems can impact economic stability, influence the spread of global pandemics, or trigger the onset of revolution or war. These efforts are fueled by an ever-increasing ability to record, store, and mine digital data on social and economic behavior. The advance of what is currently fashionably called “big data” appears unstoppable. Neuroscience, it turns out, is on the brink of its own “big data” revolution. Supplementing more traditional practices of small-scale hypothesis-driven laboratory research, a growing number of large-scale brain data collection and data aggregation ventures are now underway, and prospects are that this trend will only grow in future years.


pages: 281 words: 95,852

The Googlization of Everything: by Siva Vaidhyanathan

1960s counterculture, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, borderless world, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cloud computing, computer age, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, data acquisition, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full text search, global pandemic, global village, Google Earth, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, information retrieval, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, libertarian paternalism, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pirate software, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, single-payer health, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, social web, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Nature of the Firm, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Thorstein Veblen, urban decay, web application, zero-sum game

The dangers arose because we let the automobile companies and airlines dictate both public discourse and policy. The rules of the road were worked out rather quickly and almost entirely in favor of the automobile: more people became motorists, and fewer were pedestrians. Soon after World War II, flying and driving became elements of daily life for most of the developed world. Yet the externalities of both these transport systems—from global climate change to global terrorism to global pandemics—have left us wondering how we made so many bad decisions about both of them. We did not acknowledge all the hazards created by our rush to move and connect goods and people, and so we did not plan. We did not limit. We did not deliberate. We did not deploy wisdom and caution in the face of the new and powerful. We did not come to terms with how dangerous planes and cars really are. Even had we acknowledged the range of threats that they generate, we would not have wished for a world without them.


Beautiful Visualization by Julie Steele

barriers to entry, correlation does not imply causation, data acquisition, database schema, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, global pandemic, Hans Rosling, index card, information retrieval, iterative process, linked data, Mercator projection, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, performance metric, QR code, recommendation engine, semantic web, social graph, sorting algorithm, Steve Jobs, web application, wikimedia commons

Islam is likewise opposed to desecrating or even exposing the body of a deceased believer. Autopsy protocols and photographs used as evidence in criminal cases can be difficult for jurors to understand. VA visualizations are typically clearer (Figures 18-4 and 18-9). Storage of VA data poses few problems, whereas autopsy records such as tissue sections are difficult to store indefinitely (Figure 18-16). With potential global pandemics such as bird flu (avian influenza A) and swine flu (the H1N1 virus) posing an increasing threat, the practice of eviscerating the victims can pose serious health risks to coroners, pathologists, and medical examiners. With a VA, these risks are minimized. However, virtual autopsies also have several shortcomings: For MDCT, soft tissue discrimination is low. Energy-resolved CT (DECT) has the potential to resolve this problem (Figure 18-10).


pages: 347 words: 97,721

Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby

AI winter, Andy Kessler, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, commoditize, conceptual framework, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, fixed income, follow your passion, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, game design, general-purpose programming language, global pandemic, Google Glasses, Hans Lippershey, haute cuisine, income inequality, index fund, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, lifelogging, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter Thiel, precariat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Works Progress Administration, Zipcar

Bryson points out, “We already have calculators that can do math better than us, and they don’t even take over the pockets they live in, let alone the world.”1 As we’ve described earlier, there are passionate prophesiers of “superintelligence” like Nick Bostrom of Oxford. Bostrom’s colleague Stuart Armstrong published a report calling for a whole new category of risks to be recognized: risks of potentially infinite impact. Among a number of global challenges “threatening the very basis of our civilization” (including nuclear war, climate change, and global pandemics) they included artificial intelligence, because of what is known as “the control problem.”2 Once machines can outthink humans, their ability to decide and make things happen might be beyond our power to rein in. Bostrom and Armstrong paint apocalyptic scenarios, but you don’t have to buy into a future of robot overlords to believe we need society-level decision-making in the face of advancing AI.


pages: 324 words: 96,491

Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News by Clint Watts

4chan, active measures, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Manning, Climatic Research Unit, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, global pandemic, Google Earth, illegal immigration, Internet of things, Julian Assange, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, Mikhail Gorbachev, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, pre–internet, side project, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, University of East Anglia, Valery Gerasimov, WikiLeaks, zero day

Financial propaganda, meanwhile, sought to undermine support for capitalism by stoking fears of world market collapse, wealth disparity, or imperialism. But above all, the Soviets attempted to inject fear into audiences. Fear, more than any other emotion, lowers people’s ability to distinguish fact from fiction, making lies easier to sell. Audiences were reminded, relentlessly, of impending calamities that could bring the end of humankind. Nuclear standoffs with the West were amplified by Kremlin outlets at home and abroad. Global pandemics poised to destroy local communities offered a particularly effective line of attack on America, and this area of effort, more than any other, represents what may have been the greatest success of active measures to date. The AIDS virus ravaged communities around the world, growing from a handful of cases in 1980 to more than 4.5 million in 1995.2 The United States led much of the world’s effort to counter the spread of HIV across impoverished regions.


pages: 296 words: 98,018

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas

"side hustle", activist lawyer, affirmative action, Airbnb, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Heinemeier Hansson, deindustrialization, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, friendly fire, global pandemic, high net worth, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hyperloop, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor, zero-sum game

The globalists, Rodrik said, have embraced a theory of progress that is out of step with the facts of the age. “There’s a general understanding of how the world works that lies behind those kinds of initiatives, which I think is false,” he said. “And that understanding is that what the world suffers from is a lack of true international cooperation.” This understanding is right on some issues, such as global pandemics and climate change, he said. “But in most other areas, when you think about them, whether it’s international finance, whether it’s economic development, whether it’s business and financial stability, whether it’s international trade—the problem, it seems to me, is not that we don’t have sufficient global governance, that we don’t have sufficient global cooperation, that we’re not getting together enough.


The Despot's Accomplice: How the West Is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy by Brian Klaas

Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, citizen journalism, clean water, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, failed state, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, global pandemic, moral hazard, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, Skype, Steve Jobs, trade route, Transnistria, unemployed young men, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

That death toll later rose, as he severed the pensions of a third of the nation’s elderly citizens, and then had the audacity to make them pay back two years’ worth of payments that they had already received—to settle debts incurred by “crucial” state expenses like the Neutrality Arch, a $12 million, 246 foot tall gold statue of Niyazov himself that rotates to always face the sun.11 â•… In a democracy, these mistakes may still be possible (gold statues of Donald Trump seem more plausible than ever, after all), but at least such state abuse would likely result in a change of government with impeachment or at the next election. Instead, Niyazov stayed in power until his death in 2006. Democracy, by its very nature, would have allowed the Turkmen people the opportunity to replace their dictator (and perhaps openly lip-sync a farewell song while doing so). â•… But sometimes, authoritarianism shines beyond the glimmering statues. In May 2003, the SARS outbreak in China threatened to spread into a global pandemic. The crisis was largely averted because authoritarianism allowed China to act without consulting society or abiding by “pesky” labor laws. The government built a 1,000-bed hospital facility dedicated to SARS patients in eight days.12 They broke ground on a 25 THE DESPOT’S ACCOMPLICE Tuesday and patients were ready to move in by the following Wednesday. 7,000 people worked day and night until it was done.


pages: 401 words: 115,959

Philanthrocapitalism by Matthew Bishop, Michael Green, Bill Clinton

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Bob Geldof, Bonfire of the Vanities, business process, business process outsourcing, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, cleantech, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, Dava Sobel, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, don't be evil, family office, financial innovation, full employment, global pandemic, global village, God and Mammon, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Dyson, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Live Aid, lone genius, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, mass affluent, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, new economy, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Singer: altruism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, profit motive, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy, working poor, World Values Survey, X Prize

Brilliant stressed the importance of focusing on things that related to the core strengths of Google.com, notably its technological and engineering abilities, its global reach, and its deep understanding of the power of information to change the world. The last of these inspired the organization’s fourth and fifth initiatives: improving public services in developing countries by providing much better information about service quality to those who run them and those who use them; and, a longtime personal interest of Brilliant, developing an early-warning and rapid-response infrastructure for global pandemics and other catastrophes. Google.org has seeded Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters (InSTEDD), a nonprofit that is working to better connect the best brains in the technology industry with those responsible for monitoring and responding to such crises. Brilliant stresses that doing good is not limited within the company to Google.org. Most people choose to work for Google because they want to change the world, he says.


pages: 437 words: 115,594

The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World by Steven Radelet

"Robert Solow", Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, colonial rule, creative destruction, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, land reform, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, off grid, oil shock, out of africa, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, special economic zone, standardized shipping container, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, women in the workforce, working poor

Yet, since 2000, just ten new antibiotics have been approved in the USA, and only two of these since 2009. The development of antibiotics has decreased steadily since the 1960s, with fewer companies bringing forth ever fewer compounds.13 The threats don’t end there. The spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the appearance of the H1N1 virus, and similar outbreaks have stoked concerns that the world could soon face a global pandemic similar to the 1918 influenza outbreak. Any kind of major pandemic, or spread of antimicrobial resistance, is sure to have an enormous effect on developing countries, where the resources and expertise to fight new threats are limited. Finally, an additional emerging health challenge facing developing countries is the increased prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.


pages: 372 words: 111,573

10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness by Alanna Collen

Asperger Syndrome, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, biofilm, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, David Strachan, discovery of penicillin, Drosophila, Fall of the Berlin Wall, friendly fire, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, hygiene hypothesis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, John Snow's cholera map, Kickstarter, Louis Pasteur, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, phenotype, placebo effect, the scientific method

It’s not normal, that much is clear. The word ‘irritable’ belies the impact that IBS has on the lives of its sufferers; the disease is consistently ranked as reducing quality of life even more than for patients on kidney dialysis and diabetics reliant on insulin injections. Perhaps it’s the hopelessness that comes with not knowing what’s wrong, nor how to fix it. The spread of IBS is an unremarked global pandemic. One in ten visits to the doctor relate to the condition, and gastroenterologists are kept in a job by the steady flow of sufferers who make up half of their patients. In the United States, IBS leads to 3 million visits to the doctor, 2.2 million prescriptions, and 100,000 hospital visits each year. But we keep it quiet. No one wants to talk about diarrhoea. The cause, however, remains elusive.


pages: 396 words: 117,897

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization by Vaclav Smil

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, additive manufacturing, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, British Empire, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, global pandemic, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Watt: steam engine, megacity, megastructure, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, post-industrial society, purchasing power parity, recommendation engine, rolodex, X Prize

Perhaps the best way to imagine this is to see the global economy behaving for an extended period of time much like Japan's economy has been behaving since 1990: weak or nonexistent growth accompanied by deflation and endless budget deficits. And there are yet other crises and catastrophes that could end the rising consumption of materials, or at least set it back for generations (Smil, 2010). Two of those ever-present risks – a global pandemic and Earth's collision with an asteroid – have been, finally, given closer attention in recent years because of the epidemics of SARS, H1N1, and because of a few relatively close approaches of several asteroids and the spectacular atmospheric disintegration of the Chelyabinsk meteor in February 2013. A new pandemic whose mortality would merely replicate the toll of the 1918–19 event would result in at least 150 million deaths worldwide, while the consequences of a collision with even a fairly small asteroid (200–400 m diameter) would depend on where it took place.


pages: 421 words: 125,417

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey Sachs

agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, business process, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, demographic transition, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, energy security, failed state, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, Haber-Bosch Process, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, mass immigration, microcredit, oil shale / tar sands, old age dependency ratio, peak oil, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, unemployed young men, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working-age population

In the United States, the face of the UN is mainly in its first role, as a debating shop in the UN Security Council. In fact, the UN’s most powerful contributions probably fall into the second and third categories. The UN remains the world’s repository of shared commitments on global objectives, whether in the environmental treaties, the Millennium Development Goals, or the protection against global pandemic diseases. Its agencies are the indispensable providers of public services in the poorest and most vulnerable places on the planet, a role that is almost invisible in the rich countries but nearly omnipresent in the poorest. Beyond the specific acts of peacekeeping and the countless individual development initiatives of UN agencies, the deepest measure of UN success will be whether the Millennium Promises are sustained over time as shared active global goals and whether these goals are achieved in practice.


pages: 481 words: 125,946

What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence by John Brockman

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, constrained optimization, corporate personhood, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, dark matter, discrete time, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, functional fixedness, global pandemic, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, loose coupling, microbiome, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, social intelligence, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

If we look at newer, digital parts of the GAI, we can see a pattern. Some new parts are saving humanity from the mistakes of the traditional programmers: Land-use space satellites alerted us to global warming, deforestation, and other environmental problems and gave us the facts to address those harms. Similarly, statistical analyses of health care, transportation, and work patterns have given us a worldwide network that can track global pandemics and guide public health efforts. On the other hand, some of the new parts—such as the Great Firewall, the NSA, and the U.S. political parties—are scary, because of the possibility that a small group of people can potentially control the thoughts and behavior of very large groups of people, perhaps without those people even knowing they’re being manipulated. What this suggests is that it isn’t the Global Artificial Intelligence itself that’s worrisome, it’s how it’s controlled.


pages: 405 words: 121,999

The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland

active measures, agricultural Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, clean water, Corn Laws, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Donald Trump, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, global pandemic, mass immigration, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nelson Mandela, Ponzi scheme, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, sceptred isle, stakhanovite, Thomas Malthus, transatlantic slave trade, women in the workforce, working-age population

A Londoner of a hundred years ago would be astonished at the global face of his once more or less exclusively British city and astonished that the British Empire was no more. A Parisian would be similarly surprised to know that the Algerian experiment is over, having left no demographic trace at all in North Africa, while his own city is heavily North African. The demographic trends of the future are to some extent already in process: short of global pandemic or mass movement, we know how many fifty-year-olds there will be in Nigeria or Norway in 2050. However, there may still be surprises in store, and these may be driven by science and technology. It was technology which doubly broke the old Malthusian equation: the earth, it turned out, could provide exponentially for human beings, with the opening up of vast new territories using new ways of moving people and things, and using new ways of growing food; population growth, by contrast, could be cheaply and easily tamed by people’s choices without their having to restrain their natural appetites.


pages: 378 words: 121,495

The Abandonment of the West by Michael Kimmage

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Charles Lindbergh, City Beautiful movement, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global pandemic, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, Nelson Mandela, Peace of Westphalia, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Thomas L Friedman, transatlantic slave trade, urban planning, Washington Consensus

The decentering of the West in international affairs goes well beyond economics. For American foreign policy, the ascent of non-European powers calls for a recalibration of the Cold War formulas that Truman and others had devised. As the Obama administration realized, Asia is likely to be the locus of twenty-first-century international affairs. In addition, many of the policy challenges of the twenty-first century, from terrorism to climate change to global pandemics, will be transnational. If they are to be solved at all, it will be only through collective and cooperative action that is global in scope. In 2012, the international relations scholar Charles Kupchan published No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn. He was charting the new foreign-policy realities, and Kupchan would go on to serve as the National Security Council’s senior director for Western Europe from 2014 to 2017.


pages: 404 words: 131,034

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, Tunguska event

If they exist, perhaps we can eat a kilogram of them with no ill effects. But we are not sure, and the stakes are high. If we wish to return unsterilized Martian samples to Earth, we must have a containment procedure that is stupefyingly reliable. There are nations that develop and stockpile bacteriological weapons. They seem to have an occasional accident, but they have not yet, so far as I know, produced global pandemics. Perhaps Martian samples can be safely returned to Earth. But I would want to be very sure before considering a returned-sample mission. There is another way to investigate Mars and the full range of delights and discoveries this heterogeneous planet holds for us. My most persistent emotion in working with the Viking lander pictures was frustration at our immobility. I found myself unconsciously urging the spacecraft at least to stand on its tiptoes, as if this laboratory, designed for immobility, were perversely refusing to manage even a little hop.


pages: 513 words: 141,963

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari

Airbnb, centre right, failed state, glass ceiling, global pandemic, illegal immigration, mass incarceration, McJob, moral panic, Naomi Klein, placebo effect, profit motive, RAND corporation, Rat Park, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, Steven Pinker, traveling salesman, War on Poverty

., After Prohibition, 94-7. 4 Miron, Drug War Crimes, 50. 5 The Global Commission on Drug Policy, led by former U.S. secretaries of state and other governmental leaders, looked at the evidence and concluded: “Virtually all studies on the subject have concluded that increased levels of enforcement activity have been associated with increased drug market violence.” See The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS: How the Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global Pandemic, 14. See also http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/occasional_papers/2010/RAND_OP325.pdf, accessed January 14, 2014. 6 Anslinger, Protectors, ix. Anslinger, Murderers, 15. 7 Del Quentin Wilbur, “Drug Dealer Gets Life for Killing State Trooper,” Baltimore Sun, December 15, 2001, “Telegraph,” 1A. 8 Leigh said this in her speech to the Cato Institute in the fall of 2011. I was in the audience.


pages: 692 words: 127,032

Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Berlin Wall, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cepheid variable, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, commoditize, cosmological constant, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dean Kamen, desegregation, different worldview, double helix, energy security, Exxon Valdez, fudge factor, ghettoisation, global pandemic, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, mutually assured destruction, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, sharing economy, smart grid, Solar eclipse in 1919, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, University of East Anglia, War on Poverty, white flight, Winter of Discontent, working poor, yellow journalism, zero-sum game

Science and technology are at the core of national security like never before. What is your view of how science and technology can best be used to ensure national security, and where should we put our focus? 6. Pandemics and Biosecurity. Some estimates suggest that an emerging pandemic could kill more than three hundred million people. In an era of constant and rapid international travel, what steps should the United States take to protect our population from global pandemics and deliberate biological attacks? 7. Genetics Research. The field of genetics has the potential to improve human health and nutrition, but many people are concerned about the effects of genetic modification both in humans and in agriculture. What is the right policy balance between the benefits of genetic advances and their potential risks? 8. Stem Cells. Stem cell research advocates say it may successfully lead to treatments for many chronic diseases and injuries, saving lives, but opponents argue that using embryos as a source for stem cells destroys human life.


pages: 510 words: 141,188

Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom by Katherine Eban

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, global pandemic, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, Ponzi scheme, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Upton Sinclair, urban planning

According to the article, Cipla was offering to sell the AIDS cocktail for $350 a year per patient, or roughly $1 a day, as compared to Western prices of between $10,000 and $15,000 a year, but was being blocked by the multinational drug makers that held the patents, who were being backed by the Bush administration. McNeil’s story “completely broke the dikes,” Jamie Love recalled. Papers all over the world picked it up. News of Big Pharma’s patent protection efforts in the face of the global pandemic and the Bush administration’s support of them sparked international outrage and stoked street protests from Philadelphia to Pretoria, even accusations of genocide. The result was a PR debacle for Big Pharma. Even among the industry’s lowest moments—the illegal marketing of drugs for off-label uses; the payoffs to doctors who acted as promotional mouthpieces; the concealment of negative safety data for high-profile drugs—its stance in South Africa seemed uniquely horrible.


pages: 453 words: 130,632

Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood by Rose George

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, airport security, British Empire, call centre, corporate social responsibility, Edward Snowden, global pandemic, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jeff Bezos, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, period drama, Peter Thiel, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell

But 70 percent of the country’s plasma came from paid sellers and no one saw anything wrong with it. BPL did not act upon Dr. Allen’s warnings. Hemophiliacs had no intention of giving up Factor and going back to endless hospital stays. They wanted it for three reasons: It gave them a life. They didn’t know about hepatitis C. And no one had told them about HIV, insidiously making its way to being a global pandemic. * * * After his TV interview, Julian Miller starred in a documentary.25 It opens with a shot of him shaving, a sly reference to most people’s ignorant belief that hemophiliacs can bleed to death from a nick. There are scenes of Julian walking around his parents’ beautiful home in a beautiful Welsh valley, his stiff walk the mark of a hemophiliac, to those who know the sign language, revealing a person in constant pain.


pages: 470 words: 137,882

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, clean water, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, desegregation, Donald Trump, global pandemic, Gunnar Myrdal, mass incarceration, Milgram experiment, obamacare, out of africa, Peter Eisenman, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, strikebreaker, transatlantic slave trade, zero-sum game

There were serendipitous moments, like running into former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu just as I was contemplating the role of Confederate symbols. Over the years, I have been continually inspired by my ongoing conversations with historian and dear friend Taylor Branch, whose work and perspective often intersect with mine. I am also ever grateful to Sharon Malone and Eric Holder for the grace and thoughtfulness they have shown me. The nature and timetable for a book under production in an era of global pandemic required collaboration and commitment on an epic level. Working remotely in a time of uncertainty, the following people at Penguin Random House, in addition to my editor, Kate Medina, made this book possible: Gina Centrello, whose support I have treasured, and publisher Andy Ward and deputy publisher Avideh Bashirrad. In copy editing, managing editorial, and production: Benjamin Dreyer, Rebecca Berlant, and Richard Elman.


pages: 475 words: 134,707

The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health--And How We Must Adapt by Sinan Aral

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, computer vision, coronavirus, correlation does not imply causation, COVID-19, Covid-19, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, death of newspapers, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Drosophila, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, global pandemic, hive mind, illegal immigration, income inequality, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, mobile money, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multi-sided market, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, performance metric, phenotype, recommendation engine, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Second Machine Age, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, social intelligence, social software, social web, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra

The Chinese government spread false conspiracy theories blaming the U.S. military for starting the pandemic. Several false coronavirus “cures” killed hundreds of people who drank chlorine or excessive alcohol to rid themselves of the virus. There was, of course, no cure or vaccine at the time. International groups, like the World Health Organization (WHO), fought coronavirus misinformation on the Hype Machine as part of their global pandemic response. My group at MIT supported the COVIDConnect fact-checking apparatus, the official WhatsApp coronavirus channel of the WHO, and studied the spread and impact of coronavirus misinformation worldwide. But we first glimpsed the destructive power of health misinformation on the Hype Machine the year before the coronavirus pandemic hit, during the measles resurgence of 2019. Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.


pages: 501 words: 145,943

If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities by Benjamin R. Barber

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, Berlin Wall, bike sharing scheme, borderless world, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, clean water, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, digital Maoism, disintermediation, edge city, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global pandemic, global village, Hernando de Soto, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, London Interbank Offered Rate, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, megacity, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, Occupy movement, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peace of Westphalia, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, Tony Hsieh, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, unpaid internship, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, zero-sum game

Santander, Spain, may have the world’s most extensive sensor network, with the company Libelium having installed 400 devices to locate parking spots and 700 more to measure and control ambient parameters for noise and carbon monoxide as well as temperature and sunlight. Remote health exams via the web can offer improvements in urban (and rural) health care, especially for those without regular access to doctors. And electronic record keeping is a money-saving boon to public health that improves patient care and helps cities deal with new global pandemics. Even video games, going all the way back to SimCity (which was issued in a new version in 2013) and Second Life, allow experimentation with modes of urban design and cosmopolitan living. Second Life, like most web-based innovation, may be exploited mainly for entertainment (virtual sex and shopping and partying), but it also includes rules for living, principles of design, and a virtual currency with some real-world value.


pages: 529 words: 150,263

The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris by Mark Honigsbaum

Asian financial crisis, biofilm, Black Swan, clean water, coronavirus, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, indoor plumbing, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, moral panic, Pearl River Delta, Ronald Reagan, Skype, the built environment, trade route, urban renewal, urban sprawl

Twice this pandemic century, in 1976 and again in 2003, scientists thought the world was on the brink of a new influenza pandemic, only to realize that the outbreaks were false alarms and that the real danger lay elsewhere. Then in 2009 the WHO declared that the Mexican swine flu, a ressortment of two well-known H1N1 swine-lineage viruses that had circulated separately for over a decade, met the criterion of a pandemic virus, triggering the activation of global pandemic preparedness plans. On paper, this was the first pandemic of the twenty-first century and the first influenza pandemic in forty-one years. The fact that the swine flu was an H1N1, just like the Spanish flu, raised the prospect that this might be the Big One and that governments should expect a wave of illness and deaths similar to that in 1918–1919. But though the WHO’s declaration sparked widespread panic, the anticipated viral Armageddon never materialized.


The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations by Daniel Yergin

3D printing, 9 dash line, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, addicted to oil, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, American energy revolution, Asian financial crisis, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, British Empire, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, distributed generation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy security, energy transition, failed state, gig economy, global pandemic, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Kickstarter, LNG terminal, Lyft, Malacca Straits, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, Masdar, mass incarceration, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, new economy, off grid, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, paypal mafia, peak oil, pension reform, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, supply-chain management, trade route, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, ubercab, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, women in the workforce

U.S. shale, they expected, would inevitably be a major casualty of a price war, owing to its higher costs and the constant drilling it required, compared to Saudi and Russian conventional oil.2 * * * — Yet what was not fully understood at the beginning of March was that this battle for market share was being launched into a market that was rapidly shrinking owing to the virus. The epidemic in China was turning into a global pandemic. Sixteen years earlier, in 2004, the National Intelligence Council, a research organization in the U.S. intelligence community, had published a report titled Mapping the Global Future, which presented scenarios for the year 2020. One of the scenarios imagined was a pandemic in 2020. It was eerily prophetic, even as to the year: It is only a matter of time before a new pandemic appears, such as the 1918–1919 influenza virus that killed an estimated twenty million worldwide.


pages: 1,015 words: 170,908

Empire by Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri

Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, colonial rule, conceptual framework, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global pandemic, global village, Haight Ashbury, informal economy, invisible hand, late capitalism, low skilled workers, mass immigration, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, open borders, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Scramble for Africa, social intelligence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, urban planning

If we break down global boundaries and open universal contact in our global village, how will we prevent the spread of disease and corruption? This anxiety is most clearly revealed with respect to the AIDS pandemic.2 The lightning speed of the spread of AIDS in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia demonstrated the new dangers of global contagion. As AIDS has been recognized first as a disease and then as a global pandemic, there have developed maps of its sources and spread that often focus on central Africa and Haiti, in terms reminiscent of the colonialist imaginary: unrestrained sexuality, moral corruption, and lack of hygiene. Indeed, the dominant discourses of AIDS prevention have been all about hygiene: We must avoid contact and use protection. The medical and humanitarian workers have to throw up their hands in frustration working with these infected populations who have so little respect for hygiene!


pages: 551 words: 174,280

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch

agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kenneth Arrow, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, Thales of Miletus, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam, zero-sum game

However, it has been pointed out almost from the outset by critics of ‘so-called progress’ that this triumph may only be temporary, because of the evolution of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. This is often held up as an indictment of – to give it its broad context – Enlightenment hubris. We need lose only one battle in this war of science against bacteria and their weapon, evolution (so the argument goes), to be doomed, because our other ‘so-called progress’ – such as cheap worldwide air travel, global trade, enormous cities – makes us more vulnerable than ever before to a global pandemic that could exceed the Black Death in destructiveness and even cause our extinction. But all triumphs are temporary. So to use this fact to reinterpret progress as ‘so-called progress’ is bad philosophy. The fact that reliance on specific antibiotics is unsustainable is only an indictment from the point of view of someone who expects a sustainable lifestyle. But in reality there is no such thing.


pages: 573 words: 180,065

On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads by Tim Cope

feminist movement, global pandemic, illegal immigration, Iridium satellite, mass immigration, trade route

Ever since Genghis Khan proclaimed himself “the ruler of all those who live in felt tents,” the empire had relied on an efficient network of trade and communication routes. This not only provided military advantage but also helped prevent vassal states from revolting by keeping the people happy with stability and thriving economies. Just as this complex network could carry a messenger or Silk Road trader from Mongolia to Europe without affray, it equally aided the passage of the plague. Just like a global pandemic would do today, the plague paralyzed the flow of trade, isolating cities and countries, and eventually entire continents. Mongolian aristocracies found themselves with depleted militaries, unable to procure the same kind of taxes that had funded the empire, and more outnumbered by subjects than ever before. By the end of the fourteenth century, Mongolians in Asia had returned to a nomadic lifestyle in their homeland or were absorbed or killed by the rebelling Chinese.


pages: 602 words: 177,874

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman

3D printing, additive manufacturing, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Bob Noyce, business cycle, business process, call centre, centre right, Chris Wanstrath, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, demand response, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Ferguson, Missouri, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Flash crash, game design, gig economy, global pandemic, global supply chain, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land tenure, linear programming, Live Aid, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, pattern recognition, planetary scale, pull request, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, supercomputer in your pocket, TaskRabbit, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, Transnistria, uber lyft, undersea cable, urban decay, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

All of that was reflected in the foreign policy of President Barack Obama, which was characterized by pinched aspirations, a humility about whether America knew best, a skepticism toward foreigners, particularly from the Middle East, who claimed that they shared our values and beckoned us to come partner with them, and the dispatching of troops abroad with an eyedropper, almost counting them one by one. I say all of this without meaning to criticize; there were good reasons for Obama’s circumspection when it came to the Middle East. Elsewhere, such as in eastern Europe and Asia, Obama actually reinforced America’s military presence to balance Russia and China, and his use of the American military to stem the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was decisive in preventing a global pandemic. So the notion that America under Obama just withdrew from the world is nonsense. But there was a pulling back in the Middle East, and it had two major consequences: it abetted the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, and it contributed to the massive outflow of refugees from that region into Europe. That outflow in turn helped to create the anti-immigration backlash that fueled the British withdrawal from the European Union and the rise of populist/nationalist politics inside almost every EU member state.


pages: 829 words: 186,976

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don't by Nate Silver

"Robert Solow", airport security, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business cycle, buy and hold, Carmen Reinhart, Claude Shannon: information theory, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, Donald Trump, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, Freestyle chess, fudge factor, George Akerlof, global pandemic, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, high batting average, housing crisis, income per capita, index fund, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Laplace demon, locking in a profit, Loma Prieta earthquake, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, negative equity, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pets.com, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, security theater, short selling, Skype, statistical model, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, University of East Anglia, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons

And it would probably be somewhere in the developing world, where poverty produced lower levels of hygiene and sanitation, allowing animal viruses to be transmitted to humans more easily. This mix almost perfectly describes the conditions found in Southeast Asian countries like China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam (China alone is home to about half the world’s pigs34). These countries are very often the source for the flu, both the annual strains and the more unusual varieties that can potentially become global pandemics.* So they have been the subject of most of the medical community’s attention, especially in recent years because of the fear over another strain of the virus. H5N1, better known as bird flu or avian flu, has been simmering for some years in East Asia and could be extremely deadly if it mutated in the wrong way. These circumstances are not exclusive to Asia, however. The Mexican state of Veracruz, for instance, provides similarly fertile conditions for the flu.


pages: 775 words: 208,604

The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality From the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel

agricultural Revolution, assortative mating, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, colonial rule, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, corporate governance, cosmological principle, crony capitalism, dark matter, declining real wages, demographic transition, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, hiring and firing, income inequality, John Markoff, knowledge worker, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, means of production, mega-rich, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, rent control, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Simon Kuznets, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, universal basic income, very high income, working-age population, zero-sum game

., Gil, Ricard, and Sala-i-Martin, Xavier. 2004. “Do democracies have different public policies than nondemocracies?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 18: 51–74. Murphey, Rhoads. 1999. Ottoman warfare, 1500–1700. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Murray, Charles. 2012. Coming apart: the state of white America. New York: Crown Forum. Murray, Christopher J. L., et al. 2006. “Estimation of potential global pandemic influenza mortality on the basis of vital registry data from the 1918–20 pandemic: a quantitative analysis.” Lancet 368: 2211–2218. Murray, Sarah C. 2013. “Trade, imports, and society in early Greece: 1300–900 B.C.E.” PhD thesis, Stanford University. Nafziger, Steven, and Lindert, Peter. 2013. “Russian inequality on the eve of revolution.” Working paper. Nakamura, Takafusa. 2003. “The age of turbulence: 1937–1954.”


pages: 827 words: 239,762

The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite by Duff McDonald

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bob Noyce, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, business process, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, deskilling, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, family office, financial innovation, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, George Gilder, glass ceiling, global pandemic, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job-hopping, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Menlo Park, new economy, obamacare, oil shock, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, profit motive, pushing on a string, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, Thorstein Veblen, union organizing, urban renewal, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, Y Combinator

And so it is effectively ignored. If anyone at HBS has stayed on point on this issue, it is Rakesh Khurana. In 2010, he did what few of his colleagues have ever done, which is to admit that the School actually had a responsibility that it has failed to live up to. “If you look at the kinds of problems that our society faces, not only American society, but global society—sustainability, climate change, global pandemics, entrenched poverty—these are issues that will require business to be part of the solution,” he said. “But business will not be part of the solution if it is populated by individuals who have a very narrow conception of what their role is, who have a very narrow view about how business fits into the larger institutions of society. I believe that what we need to do is to begin that conversation among our students and to make that conversation not something that is circumscribed to an ethics course or a single course in organizational behavior, but to be part of a conversation that runs through every single course we have for our students, so that they are socialized, just like you take a doctor, that at the end of the day, the most important thing is that the role of the corporation is to improve the general welfare of the society.”32 While the School has done some recent substantive work on ethics, in particular Professor Max Bazerman’s work on how moral and ethical blind spots can inadvertently develop in an organization, the urgency has apparently drained from the effort as the latest crisis recedes into the rearview mirror.


How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Donald Trump, East Village, estate planning, facts on the ground, global pandemic, Live Aid, medical residency, placebo effect, Ronald Reagan, sensible shoes, trickle-down economics

Even the nimble among them wore haunted expressions. If you knew what to look for, you saw in their faces the burden of a shared past, the years and years of similar services. This was what survivors of the plague looked like. The crowd swelled to five hundred. Some among them were adorned in mementos: faded protest buttons or T-shirts with militant slogans. This was the generation that fought AIDS from the dawn of the global pandemic. Most had been members or supporters of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP—the radical protest organization that started in New York City but went on to count 148 chapters in 19 countries, with perhaps 10,000 members at its peak. The movement collapsed in the mid-1990s, when the advent of effective medicine finally staunched much of the dying. In the decades since then, it had seemed that the menace had receded, at least in America.


pages: 1,028 words: 267,392

Wanderers: A Novel by Chuck Wendig

Black Swan, centre right, citizen journalism, clean water, Columbine, coronavirus, currency manipulation / currency intervention, game design, global pandemic, hiring and firing, hive mind, Internet of things, job automation, Kickstarter, Lyft, Maui Hawaii, oil shale / tar sands, private military company, RFID, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, supervolcano, uber lyft, white picket fence

Come morning, he woke to learn that four of the people he had met the night prior were dragged out of their rooms. Their throats were slit. They were left in drainage ditches nearby. Disease caused chaos. Strife was born in its wake. It conjured fear and paranoia, and those things internally led to localized violence, then rioting, then civil wars. And that was something Benji had only seen on a local scale, mostly in Africa. But White Mask was more than just localized pockets of Ebola. It was a global pandemic. A hundred thousand dead days ago. Double that now, probably. It was moving faster than people could keep up. It wasn’t just the dead. It was the fact so many of the living were infected—many that wouldn’t know it yet for a month or more. What would happen then? Yes, people would die. But the end of civilization was a whole other thing; people could escalate that outcome, couldn’t they?


pages: 932 words: 307,785

State of Emergency: The Way We Were by Dominic Sandbrook

anti-communist, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, David Attenborough, Doomsday Book, edge city, estate planning, Etonian, falling living standards, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, feminist movement, financial thriller, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, German hyperinflation, global pandemic, mass immigration, moral panic, Neil Kinnock, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, North Sea oil, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, sexual politics, traveling salesman, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, Winter of Discontent, young professional

Only when she has begged the stone for forgiveness – and received by telepathy some home truths about man’s greed and pollution – is the terrible process reversed, the world apparently having been restored to ‘balance’ between nature and machine – although what that means is anybody’s guess.42 In April 1975, only a month after the conclusion of The Changes, the BBC showed the first episode of what would become the last word in eco-catastrophe dramas. Thanks to its terrifying global-pandemic opening, its earnest back-to-the-land message, its endless shots of Volvos trundling down country lanes, and its cast of balding men in parkas and feisty women in dungarees, Survivors captured the spirit of the mid-1970s better than almost any other cultural product of the day. It follows the adventures of three plucky survivors – Greg, an engineer, Abby, a middle-class housewife, and Jenny, a young secretary – in the aftermath of a devastating pandemic that has wiped out the vast majority of the world’s population.


pages: 1,261 words: 294,715

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky

autonomous vehicles, Bernie Madoff, biofilm, blood diamonds, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Brownian motion, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate personhood, corporate social responsibility, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, desegregation, different worldview, double helix, Drosophila, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, framing effect, fudge factor, George Santayana, global pandemic, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, John von Neumann, Loma Prieta earthquake, long peace, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, mouse model, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, publication bias, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, twin studies, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel, wikimedia commons, zero-sum game

Here are things invented in the last century: Bans on the use of certain types of weapons. The World Court and the concept of crimes against humanity. The UN and the dispatching of multinational peacekeeping forces. International agreements to hinder trafficking of blood diamonds, elephant tusks, rhino horns, leopard skins, and humans. Agencies that collect money to aid disaster victims anywhere on the planet, that facilitate intercontinental adoption of orphans, that battle global pandemics and send medical personnel to any place of conflict. Yes, I know, I’m an utter naïf if I think laws are universally enforced. For example, in 1981 Mauritania became the last country to ban slavery; nevertheless, today roughly 20 percent of its people are slaves, and the government has prosecuted a total of one slave owner.1 I recognize that little has changed in many places; I have spent decades in Africa living around people who believe that epileptics are possessed and that the organs of murdered albinos have healing powers, where beating of wives, children, and animals is the norm, five-year-olds herd cattle and haul firewood, pubescent girls are clitoridectomized and given to old men as third wives.


pages: 1,199 words: 332,563

Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition by Robert N. Proctor

bioinformatics, carbon footprint, clean water, corporate social responsibility, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, facts on the ground, friendly fire, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, index card, Indoor air pollution, information retrieval, invention of gunpowder, John Snow's cholera map, language of flowers, life extension, New Journalism, optical character recognition, pink-collar, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, publication bias, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, speech recognition, stem cell, telemarketer, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Upton Sinclair, Yogi Berra

The industry seems never to have removed a product because of evidence it was killing people. It is hard to name another business with so little regard for its customers. Viewed from afar, one would almost think that cigarette makers have been granted a license to kill. 29 Globalizing Death Tobacco exports should be expanded aggressively because Americans are smoking less. DAN QUAYLE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 1990 We stand on the threshold of a global pandemic of tobacco-related diseases that is nothing short of colossal. ALLAN BRANDT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, 2007 Humans are naturally inquisitive, and it would probably be hard to find an animal, vegetable, or mineral that has not, at some time or another, been put to the inhalation or ingestion test. Tobacco has been helped along, however, by certain properties of the plant itself. The plant is weedily easy to grow, with a range now extending from the tropics into places like Germany or even Sweden and Canada.


Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health by Laurie Garrett

accounting loophole / creative accounting, airport security, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, biofilm, clean water, collective bargaining, desegregation, discovery of DNA, discovery of penicillin, Drosophila, employer provided health coverage, Fall of the Berlin Wall, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, Induced demand, John Snow's cholera map, Jones Act, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Nelson Mandela, new economy, nuclear winter, phenotype, profit motive, Project Plowshare, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, stem cell, the scientific method, urban decay, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism

Examples of such lurking microbial threats, and humanity’s apparent impotence to deal with them, abounded at the millennium, the three most potentially catastrophic being HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. Combined in 1998 the three microbes claimed five million lives, according to the World Health Organization.97 HIV was, by the close of 1999, a lightning rod for protest against pharmaceutical companies, TRIPS, and global inequities in public health. The forecast for the future of the global pandemic was very, very grim. Already, according to the UNAIDS Programme, the virus’s impact on Africa was “catastrophic, and the scenario will only worsen unless global leaders work together to invest more—much more—in prevention efforts and programmes to address the multitude of social and economic problems that AIDS has wrought.”98 Experts envisioned nations obliterated by the world’s newest plague, held out little (if any) hope of a cure for the viral disease, and differed significantly at the end of the century only on one point: how many more decades would pass before an effective, affordable HIV vaccine could be used worldwide.