Discover what is on this week in the Boma Global Studio
Mar 23, 2020

Boma COVID-19 Summit

Session 2: Japan — Hacking the Pandemic

Hacking the Pandemic

Activists and innovators around the world respond to the outbreak

  • Crisis lessons from Japan's 3/11 Fukushima disaster
    Azby Brown, lead researcher, Safecast, a citizen science monitoring movement, Tokyo, Japan

  • How gaming technology can organize collaborative action
    Daniel Goldman, game and simulation developer, Tokyo Japan

  • Designing the physical environment to stop the spread of infectious diseases
    David Saladik, health facility architect working in Asia and Africa, Kigali Rwanda

  • Estonia comes together in country-wide COVID-19 hackathon
    Sten-Kristian Saluveer, multimedia producer, Tallinn Estonia

  • Food systems in the context of COVID-19
    Sara Roversi, Founder Future Food Network, Leader in Field of Food Sustainability

  • Resilience in organizations
    Guy-Philippe Goldstein, management consultant, Paris France

  • The disastrous consequences of information disorder erupting around COVID-19: 
    AI is preying upon our unconscious cognitive biases
    De Kai, AI professor, Google AI ethics council member


Moderator: Todd Porter, founder of Boma Japan

Live from: Tokyo, Japan
Start time: 8:00 a.m. UTC


***

This is a tough environment to find good information, and there is clearly much uncertainty in the public discourse, and in any assumptions anyone has of what happens next. But there are trustworthy sources with experience in providing good advice and creating effective solutions to respond to the problems at hand.

The way through combines a mixture of skepticism, fear (experienced and managed properly) and hope. Anxiety can be harnessed for mobilization and preparedness, and clear recognition of where we have already failed to be ready for an epidemic such as COVID-19 should drive us to reboot our societies to be smarter, stronger and more resilient for the future.


Here’s seven takeaways from Boma Japan’s ‘Hacking a Pandemic’ session:

  1. There will be disinformation coming at you, much of it amplified by AI, and it needs to be debunked by trustworthy sources and stopped with AI designed to seek it out and prevent its spread
  2. In an emergency, trust is not a renewable resource: once you have lost it, it takes a long time to recover
  3. Simulations are a powerful tool to understand the problem and work toward solutions – both for those who must respond to the crisis and those who are fearful of future uncertainty
  4. Thinking hard about the built-environment and creating the appropriate design of spaces is vital to preventing the spread of an epidemic
  5. Technologists are being inspired by the challenge to help their communities by contributing with quick solutions to support emergency services and maintain the orderly governance of society
  6. To be prepared and to find solutions, countries have to focus on the nightmare situation. Anxiety is good; it leads to preparedness, and preparedness is the only solution
  7. But it is not all dark and stormy – these times provide us with an opportunity to reset our culture, for countries and companies to reboot and think outside of their silos and create new, less wasteful and decentralized ways of operating that are more resilient to future threats, whether they be from other epidemics or climate change

Hacking a Pandemic

Activists and innovators around the world respond to the outbreak

Crisis lessons from Japan's 3/11 Fukushima disaster: Azby Brown, lead researcher, Safecast, a citizen science monitoring movement, Tokyo, Japan

  • When you are practicing citizen-science monitoring, debunking misinformation quickly becomes a priority
  • In an emergency, trust is not a renewable resource – once you have lost it, it takes a long time to recover
  • Trust requires transparency
  • Yet there is a way through and there will be recovery
  • We’ve become better as a society at responding to disasters
  • In Japan, people always have a certain anxiety about natural disasters in the back of their minds
  • Most preparations are based on those done for earthquakes, but this time it is different: what you need to do in response is not the same as for an earthquake, or for the nuclear situation in the 2011 Tohoku disaster

How gaming technology can organize collaborative action: Daniel Goldman, game and simulation developer, Tokyo Japan

  • Simulation helps to bring people around the table to discuss the same problems and help them to see and understand unanticipated consequences. It can’t predict the right answer or give them the decision that they should take, but it puts everyone on the same page
  • There are a lot of good ideas out there right now, such as training people who have already recovered and become immune to help with tasks that bring those in high-risk groups in contact with service providers
  • Simulation can be helpful to understand your fears about the situation. For example, to educate kids about what can and can’t happen and make them feel more at ease
  • The more you add to a simulation, the more complex it can become, which can really help you to anticipate things that might happen down the road
  • Simulations are useful in particular because they can be fun, and the size of the captive audience is large: the gaming industry is 3x to 4x bigger than the music industry. Games are not dry or academic so they are a great way to communicate necessary information because people engage in them to have fun. SimCity for example has made people of all ages, including high school students, capable of understanding complex city planning challenges
  • Using simulations to recognize the cascading effects of a crisis makes the future impact of the current problems explicit to those who may not be aware or ready to accept the severity of the upcoming developments

Designing the physical environment to stop the spread of infectious diseases: David Saladik, health facility architect working in Asia and Africa, Kigali Rwanda

  • Through his architecture work in Africa, David found himself in the center of a number of epidemics: cholera, Ebola and now Covid-19
  • Each time the solution has been around isolation and social-distancing, as well designing for the prevention of the spread of these diseases
  • Now they are asking themselves: how can we as an organization be on the critical path to doing good?
  • A good example came from the Boston office, which was working with Boston Healthcare for the Homeless. BHH had a plan in place to put up tents for the homeless, which could have been a disastrous solution in terms of increasing the spread of the virus, but the Boston office was able to work with them to find a way to make it so that the tents were better able to prevent the outbreak
  • A lot of the work they do takes place over a long time frame, it’s important to connect during these times. Social media may cause problems, but it can also serve a greater purpose

Estonia comes together in country-wide COVID-19 hackathon: Sten-Kristian Saluveer, multimedia producer, Tallinn Estonia

  • 80 ideas from the hackathon: #hackthecrisis with the tech community, entrepreneurs, and other members of society
  • Accelerate Estonia are putting up 5,000 Euros for 5 final project to take their ideas further
  • Ideas fell into two categories: 1. How to respond? 2. What to do after?
  • Some of the solutions from the hackation are already out in the market
  • The event, and the hashtag, was a success that has taken off in other locations – 35 events now happening around the world, Finland, India, Germany, etc.
  • What made it a success? Great organizer, Accelerate Estonia; the tech community is very advanced in Estonia; the event was held for the purpose of helping community so it inspired people as a community platform
  • What didn’t work? How to gather the problems and provide effective solutions when governance and emergency services are already under critical overload? How to protect infrastructure to do these hackathons? And how to implement the solutions?
  • Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwolcott/2020/03/15/hack-the-crisis-6-lessons-from-estonias-coronavirus-crisis-response/#47014ad94fca

Food systems in the context of COVID-19: Sara Roversi, Founder Future Food Network, Leader in Field of Food Sustainability

  • Italy is losing 700 people per day.
  • Everyone’s first instinct was to source food, and now, everyone must cook at home
  • Food is the basic part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Because of this crisis, we have to help society not think in silos
  • If industry is not able to provide their elements in the chain, then we won’t be able to “seed for our own harvests”
  • Those societies that were more open to new ideas such as vertical farms are better prepared
  • Now we have a chance to reboot the system, to think again about how we can redesign our food system
  • The conflict between order and disorder is very strong, but we can envision a future that is very ordered, avoids food waste and is more decentralized
  • And it’s not only about food, but also about water. Yesterday was world water day, but no one is talking about that. Italy hasn’t had rain for 80 days. No one is talking about the drought that will come next month
  • Italy is facing one of the hottest years ever, as desertification is happening even in Europe
  • Crisis is an important learning moment and everyone needs to be ready to unlearn what they thought that they knew before

Resilience in organizations: Guy-Philippe Goldstein, management consultant, Paris France

  • Start from case examples, and model and project the world not as it is today, but as it will become: model on the nightmare in order to have meaningful solutions
  • The best nations are also the ones that focus on the post-mortem – such as South Korea
  • Resilience does not come without preparation. And you can’t prepare if you don’t focus on the nightmares
  • You need a culture of anxiety for these problems. You shouldn’t be afraid of being afraid

The disastrous consequences of information disorder erupting around COVID-19: De Kai, AI professor, Google AI ethics council member

  • Misinformation, disinformation and malinformation is spreading
  • Cognitive biases are being exploited, and AI is helping leading the efforts
  • AI is amplifying misdirected 'group think', conspiracies theories, and racism
  • The solution is to build AIs to find these AI-driven sources of disinformation and stop them
  • Otherwise governments make bad decisions, and AIs drive polarization and hatred, with memes such as “Chinese eats bats”
  • Swine flu is not called the American virus, even though that’s where it started
  • AIs amplify our attribution biases, and we continue to believe even after misinformation is corrected
  • What we are fighting against is Colbert’s “Truthiness” – the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts
  • We are making bad decisions because solutions originate from outside the 'in-groups
  • AI is the answer to the very problem is it helping to amplify

SPEAKER RESOURCES:
Azby Brown:

Daniel Goldman;

Sten-Kristian Saluveer: Hack the Crisis global community

Sara Roversi

Good After Covid19 Video Whole Session - https://youtu.be/WBEJHJImHEU

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