Buy this from sam.

Buy this from sam.

A grab-bag of links about disease spread in its messy glory.

Microbescope by David McCandless, Omid Kashan, Miriam Quick, Karl Webster, Dr Stephanie Starling

Microbescope by David McCandless, Omid Kashan, Miriam Quick, Karl Webster, Dr Stephanie Starling

The spread of diseases in populations. A nitty-gritty messy empirical application for those abstract contagion models.

Connection with global trade networks, Cosma Shalizi on Ebola, and Mongol Modernity.


I used to know a little about agent-based epidemic simulation, but I am no longer in that field and do not regard myself as a practical expert.

Controlling it

PrivateKit Raskar et al. (2020)

Location logs provide time-stamped records of where you’ve been. By logging your location, researchers can explore exciting new opportunities in health, finance, environmental science, and other areas.

… The location log generated by Private Kit cannot be accessed from outside the user’s device. Data transfer occurs only if the user chooses to share it with the researcher using a QR code. This means when you use Private Kit, you are in charge.

Maciej Cegłowski, We Need A Massive Surveillance Program

In this spirit, I believe the major players in the online tracking space should team up with the CDC, FEMA, or some other Federal agency that has a narrow remit around public health, and build a national tracking database that will operate for some fixed amount of time, with the sole purpose of containing the coronavirus epidemic. It will be necessary to pass legislation to loosen medical privacy laws and indemnify participating companies from privacy lawsuits, as well as override California’s privacy law, to collect this data. I don’t believe the legal obstacles are insuperable, but I welcome correction on this point by people who know the relevant law. […]The alternative is to keep this surveillance infrastructure in place to sell soap and political ads, but refuse to bring it to bear in a situation where it can save millions of lives. That would be a shameful, disgraceful legacy indeed.

I continue to believe that living in a surveillance society is incompatible in the long term with liberty. But a prerequisite of liberty is physical safety. If temporarily conscripting surveillance capitalism as a public health measure offers us a way out of this crisis, then we should take it, and make full use of it. At the same time, we should reflect on why such a powerful surveillance tool was instantly at hand in this crisis, and what its continuing existence means for our long-term future as a free people.

Epstein, Joshua M. 2007. Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling. Princeton Studies in Complexity. Princeton University Press.

———. 2009. “Modelling to Contain Pandemics.” Nature 460: 687. https://doi.org/10.1038/460687a.

Ferguson, Neil M., Derek A. T. Cummings, Christophe Fraser, James C. Cajka, Philip C. Cooley, and Donald S. Burke. 2006. “Strategies for Mitigating an Influenza Pandemic.” Nature 442 (7101, 7101). Nature Publishing Group: 448–52. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04795.

Ferguson, N., D. Laydon, G. Nedjati Gilani, N. Imai, K. Ainslie, M. Baguelin, S. Bhatia, et al. 2020. “Report 9: Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to Reduce COVID19 Mortality and Healthcare Demand.” Report. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.25561/77482.

Halloran, M. E., N. M. Ferguson, S. Eubank, I. M. Longini, D. A. T. Cummings, B. Lewis, S. Xu, et al. 2008. “Modeling Targeted Layered Containment of an Influenza Pandemic in the United States.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (12): 4639–44. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0706849105.

Klinkenberg, Don, Christophe Fraser, and Hans Heesterbeek. 2006. “The Effectiveness of Contact Tracing in Emerging Epidemics.” PLoS ONE 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000012.

Raskar, Ramesh, Isabel Schunemann, Rachel Barbar, Kristen Vilcans, Jim Gray, Praneeth Vepakomma, Suraj Kapa, et al. 2020. “Apps Gone Rogue: Maintaining Personal Privacy in an Epidemic,” March. http://arxiv.org/abs/2003.08567.

Shen, Chen, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and Yaneer Bar-Yam. 2020. “Review of Ferguson et Al ‘Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions...’.” New England Complex Systems Institute. https://necsi.edu/review-of-ferguson-et-al-impact-of-non-pharmaceutical-interventions.