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Foreign media: U.S. technology company's plan to tackle the epidemic is faltering

via:网易科技     time:2020/5/30 10:31:34     readed:100

A task force was set up in march Facebook、Alphabet silicon valley tech giants like google, microsoft and amazon, investors and the u.s. government to collaborate on the development of technology tools to fight the epidemic, foreign media reported on may 30.However, due to many differences among members, many cooperative projects have not been realized. Team leaders found that the technology industry can play an important supporting role, but technology alone can't save the world, "applications alone can't solve problems.".

Silicon Valley tech giants, investors and the White House are failing to develop new coronavirus tools.


Figure: New York Venture Capital Investor John Boswick (John Borthwick)

In March, a group of influential science and technology leaders formed a task force to design scientific and technological solutions for the epidemic. Employees of silicon valley tech giants such as Facebook、Alphabet's google, microsoft and amazon, the white house and prominent venture capitalists are involved.

The Technology and Research Working Group developed a wide variety of development plans. But a few months later, projects such as hospital bed trackers, contact tracking tools, and Kindle equipment for residents of nursing homes failed. Members of the Working Group expressed their differences on privacy and other issues. The membership of the organization is constantly changing and leadership is constantly changing. From microsoft, Facebook to the white house, some of the big names in the organization have either withdrawn or played little role.

Novel coronavirus crisis is a major process of support for the world, but the technology industry is not able to save the world, science and technology.

"Applications alone can't solve this problem ," says John Boswick (John Borthwick), a New York venture capital investor who currently heads the organization.

The team has been working with developers to develop contact tracking applications. When apple and Google later announced the development of apps to help track down infected people, some members of the working group were surprised. Members said many questioned the effectiveness of the application and the ability of companies to keep user information completely confidential.

At the end of april, boswick took over the new coronavirus technology working group. He said the group was founded in early march ," very chaotic from the beginning ". He is now refocusing on networking and information-sharing rather than developing his own projects.

At present, the working group is organizing a virtual "Hackathon" to stimulate people's interest in solving the problem of social isolation, and holding a series of online activities with public health officials and other experts on tracking contacts.

In march, they called up tech giants and government representatives to use the "save the world" spirit that has defined silicon valley for years to help society.

Everyone wants to help. Members said that the biggest problem is how to manage the vast amount of creativity from the scientific and technological community.

The team was powered by former Google employee Josh Mendelssohn (Josh Mendelsohn), who founded Google's disaster response plan after Hurricane Katrina (Hurricane Katrina), which aims to create a system to coordinate helicopter rescue operations in coastal states.

Mendelssohn, now a managing partner at Venture Capital Hangar in New York, hired angel investor Ron Conway (Ron Conway). Conway is known for its early investments in Twitter、 Google and Facebook and other industries.

Some 45 people attended an early teleconference of the working group in mid-March, including White House Chief Technical Officer Michael Clattheos (Michael Kratsios), his deputy Lynn Parker (Lynne Parker), and representatives of some large technology companies.


Angel investor Ron Conway (Ron Conway)

Carolyn Buck (Caroline Buckee), an epidemiologist at Harvard University and an early member of the working group, said that weekly videoconferences ended up being a lengthy discussion of privacy implications and data best practices.

"The theme is fragmented and it's not clear what the goal is," Buck said.

she and another early member, geolocation start-up Camber Systems, left the organization to create a network aggregated location data to help cities and states track residents' movements, known as the new coronavirus mobile data network.

On April 10, apple and Google announced that the joint development project made the work more complicated, and the staff members were increasingly uncertain about the next step. One of the team members, buck of Harvard University, questioned whether the system developed by the two companies was as effective as the design. The system uses Bluetooth technology to track users' mobile phones and alert those who are exposed to the virus.

Other company members and executives contacted Apple and Google, wondering if the effort would really protect user privacy and whether u.s. cities and states would choose the technology tool.

While the two are not members of the working group, Microsoft privacy director Julie Brier (Julie Brill) and research and incubation director Peter Lee (Peter Lee) warned on the company's website that on the company's website that while people are "excited" about using technology to fight the epidemic, companies need to consider changing regulations and how well individuals accept shared data.

"Technologies such as the use of mobile phones to collect data need to be considered in a more complex context," the two executives wrote

"We didn't find anything against privacy in Apple or Google's solution ," a Microsoft spokesman said.

Conway said he "strongly supports" the Google and apple projects, and said he did not know who in the working group would not support the efforts of the two companies.

A spokesman for apple, speaking on behalf of apple and Google, said the technology does not replace the traditional method of epidemiological investigation, but "both companies firmly believe that this is another tool that public health institutions can choose, rather than a killer."

The two companies released technology to support mobile device tracking contacts earlier this month. Three states have asked to use the technology, but Apple's Google standard app has not been used in the United States.

Starting at the end of March, some members of the working group said they could no longer reach White House aides. City and state officials are deciding which technology to use, making technical cooperation more difficult to manage.

A White House spokesman said it was no longer involved in the group's activities since the conference call in mid March. He noted that the government is engaging with the technology industry, such as working with IBM and Amazon to provide free supercomputing resources to help develop treatments.

Mendelssohn, the head of the working group, deals with his daily work and family chores while handling a large number of emails about the working group.

"I finally had to give up," Mendelssohn said of his decision to quit the group. "It's a job for someone with grown-up children."

Boswick said that, in addition to himself, the working group currently has about 18 members. 140 companies receive regular updates on their activities. Everyone is a volunteer.

The Working Group established a new advisory committee, which included Robert Eagle (Robert Iger), former CEO of Walt Disney Company (Walt Disney Company), and Leon Panetta (Leon Panetta), former United States Defense Secretary. "When they want or have specific things to ask for advice ," says Boswick, the committee is involved.

"We become more humble," boswick said. "Think less about technology as a solution." (Chenchen)

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