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  • Bitmark named World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer,
    wins CoHack to tackle COVID-19 with Autonomy

    2020 Jun 17


    Hi Everyone,

    In the United States (where I am), we’re currently seeing states starting to open up due to political and economic pressure. It seems like there’s too much pressure from the top (President Trump) and the bottom (unemployment) to hold people on extreme lockdowns any longer, but this is driving a bigger question of “how do we all operate in this environment without creating a runaway pandemic?”

    As I mentioned in my last newsletter, this need is why we’re building Autonomy, a neighborhood public health forecasting tool. A couple of weeks ago, Autonomy won Cohack, an online hackathon co-organized by the Taiwanese and the US governments with the goal of developing sophisticated solutions for managing the coronavirus pandemic.

    You can learn about how we protect user privacy in hopes to activate mass participation in public health on our website. You can also sign up to get notified once Autonomy is out. Currently, we’re still in internal testing and we expect to have exciting announcements about launch partners soon.

    In other news, Bitmark was named a 2020 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Personally speaking, I am really happy to see our mission to restore trust in data validated at a global level.


    In other COVID-19 related thoughts:

    - Michael C. Lu, MD, MPH, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley talked about fighting future pandemics in the Washington Post:

    First, we can create a global early warning system. Much like systems for tsunamis and earthquakes, an early warning system could allow for early detection of and rapid response to an outbreak before it spreads. It would gather intelligence through a combination of zoonotic reconnaissance, artificial intelligence (AI) surveillance and outbreak investigation.”

    - Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winning science journalist on the state of America’s handling of the crisis in the New York Times:

    The problem, Garrett added, is bigger than Trump and older than his presidency. America has never been sufficiently invested in public health. The riches and renown go mostly to physicians who find new and better ways to treat heart disease, cancer and the like. The big political conversation is about individuals’ access to health care.

    But what about the work to keep our air and water safe for everyone, to design policies and systems for quickly detecting outbreaks, containing them and protecting entire populations? Where are the rewards for the architects of that?

    - How Japanese are living with COVID-19 on What Japan Thinks. Health isn’t simply about our physical symptoms, it includes our mental health, it includes how the people around us affect us. Until there’s a safe way for people to participate in these discussions, we cannot hope to move health significantly forward.

    - Contact Tracing isn’t the simple solution we’re all hoping helps us get back to normalcy, as Ars Technica suggests. The reason why? Trust. The same companies that use our data at their will and hide behind complex terms of use to justify doing so are now asking us to trust them with our safety. Related to that, The Verge discusses how contact tracing technology by itself cannot be the solution. A year ago, Bitmark Ambassador Bunnie Huang told us that Technology is not Magic.

    - What’s the line between privacy / freedom and safety? It’s easy to be cynical about the need for privacy when people seem to share more than ever. Well-regarded venture capitalist Fred Wilson shares his perspective.

    - Why is public health so important? Because modern society depends on it, yet the incentives, as discussed by Modern Healthcare, to fund it continue to ensure future pandemics.

    The Trust for America’s Health estimates public health efforts are about $4.5 billion underfunded. That’s led state and local health departments woefully unprepared to address public health emergencies such as infectious disease outbreaks, extreme weather events, and the opioid crisis.

    “One could argue that there has always been underfunding but it is more meaningful at a period of time when cuts haven’t been restored and risks have increased,” said John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health.

    - Context into Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”, from NPR.

    Thanks for reading, and keep up the support for #digitalrights.

    Stay safe!

    Michael Nguyễn
    Head of Operations, Bitmark