What I'm Reading...

Bill Gates on how to fight future pandemics

Writing for The Economist about COVID19, Bill Gates explains that life will not return to normal until most of the population is vaccinated. People have a natural aversion to exposing themselves to disease. As the pandemic slows in developed nations, it will accelerate in developing countries, were fewer jobs can be done remotely and social distancing measures won’t work as well.

According to Gates, Coronavirus will hasten three big medical breakthroughs:

  1. Fast development of vaccines, along with facilities around the world to manufacture them. This will allow that in the future, other vaccines are manufactured at scale and at affordable prices.
  2. Diagnosis. Researches could have tests ready within a few months of identifying a new disease.
  3. Antiviral drugs. We haven’t been as effective at developing drugs to fight viruses as we have those to fight bacteria.

All three technologies will prepare us for the next pandemic by allowing us to intervene early, when the number of cases is still very low. But the underlying research will also assist us in fighting existing infectious diseases—and even help advance cures for cancer.

In the future, writes Gates, a mix of “national, regional, and global organizations” will help us fight the next pandemic.

bill-gates covid19 pandemics vaccines viruses

Owning your career

How to identify what a good path-forward is for you, career-wise? How do you find your life’s work?

Two parts, second part first. Your life’s work is the work you did over the course of your life. First part: how do you identify your career? A career is either a series of short-term panic decisions, where you take the best available offer on the day you ran out of money, or on the day you get fired. Or, it’s a series of thoughtful pauses, where you wait for panic to subside, you wait for a better opportunity. You take that instead. And while you are waiting, you do the work to earn you the next gig. That’s what makes it a career. We all know people that waited a year between jobs. For that year, they could have worked in Starbucks, or they could have worked as an assistant manager somewhere… They didn’t. They waited for the thing that would next bring them forward. And hopefully, if they were smart, they didn’t spend the whole year waiting for the phone to ring. They spent that year building their portfolio. They spent that year earning trust and attention. They spent that year doing work that people were proud of. That cycle is what makes you have a career. — Seth Godin, on Instagram (2020-04-22) talking about ownership.

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We Are All Confident Idiots

An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. This clutter is an unfortunate by- product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous – especially in a technologically advanced complex democratic society that occasionally invests mistaken popular beliefs with immense destructive power (See: crisis, financial; war, Iraq). – “We Are All Confident Idiots,” David Dunning,Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan, Pacific Standard magazine, October 27, 2014.

Quoted by Howard Marks in Knowledge of the Future, a memo to Oaktree Capital clients.

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