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jerryking : hiv   9

The need for an analytical approach to life
November 3, 2013 | FT.com | By Rebecca Knight.

Risk analysis is not about predicting events; it’s about understanding the probability of possible scenarios, according to Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, professor at the Stanford School of Engineering.
In her latest research, she argues that expressions such as “black swan” and “perfect storm”, which have become journalistic shorthand when describing catastrophes, are just excuses for poor planning. Managers, should “think like engineers” and take a systematic approach to risk analysis. They should figure out how a system works and then identify the probable ways in which it could fail.
So does a black swan event exist?
The only one that I can think of is the Aids epidemic. In the case of a true black swan, you cannot anticipate it.
And what about ‘perfect storms’?
A combination of rare events is often referred to as a perfect storm. I think people underestimate the probability of them because they wrongly assume that the elements of a perfect storm are independent. If something happened in the past – even though it may not have happened at the same time as something else – it is likely to happen again in the future.
Why should managers take an engineering approach to analysing the probability of perfect storms?
Engineering risk analysts think in terms of systems – their functional components and their dependencies. If you’re in charge of risk management for your business, you need to see the interdependencies of any of the risks you’re managing: how the markets that you operate in are interrelated, for example.
You also need imagination. Several bad things can happen at once. Some of these are human errors and once you make a mistake, others are more likely to happen. This is because of the sequence of human error. When something bad happens or you make a mistake, you get distracted which means you’re more likely to make another mistake, which could lead to another bad event. When you make an error, stop and think. Anticipate and protect yourself.
How can you compute the likelihood of human error?
There are lots of ways to use systems analysis to calculate the probability of human error. Human errors are often rooted in the way an organisation is managed: either people are not skilled enough to do their jobs well; they do not have enough information; or they have the wrong incentives. If you’re paid for maximum production you’re going to take risks.
So in the case of a financial company I’d say monitor your traders, and maybe especially those that make a lot of money. There are a lot of ways you can make a lot of money: skill, luck, or through imprudent choices that sooner or later are going to catch up with you.
So you can do risk analysis even without reliable statistics?
We generally do a system-based risk analysis because we do not have reliable statistics. The goal is to look ahead and use the information we have to assess the chances that things might go wrong.
The upshot is that business schools ought to do a better job of teaching MBAs about probability.
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“Numbers make intangibles tangible,” said Jonah Lehrer, a journalist and
author of “How We Decide,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). “They
give the illusion of control. [Add "sense of control" to tags]
engineering  sense_of_control  black_swan  warning_signs  9/11  HIV  Aids  business_schools  MBAs  attitudes  interconnections  interdependence  mindsets  Stanford  imagination  systems_thinking  anticipating  probabilities  pretense_of_knowledge  risk-management  thinking_tragically  complexity  catastrophes  shorthand  incentives  quantified_self  multiple_stressors  compounded  human_errors  risks  risk-analysis  synchronicity  cumulative  self-protection  systematic_approaches 
november 2013 by jerryking
Six Months to Act: The SARS Epidemic
April 25, 2003 | WSJ | By DONALD S. BURKE.

Louis Pasteur, father of microbiology, wisely counseled that "Chance favors the prepared mind." For the moment, chance is on our side. But we have just six months to complete the job of the global eradication of the SARS coronavirus. After that, when the seasonal epidemic flares next year, it will be too late.
epidemics  HIV  viruses  SARS  seminal_moments  chance  preparation 
june 2012 by jerryking
Even the Prostitutes Have Degrees - WSJ.com
January 31, 2003 | WSJ | Daniel Henninger.

Accountability and responsibility may well be the two words Mr. Bush hopes most to deposit in our political vocabulary....Africa is the one big place in the world no one in politics wants to think about. Africa is "hopeless." Our leaders in Washington, however, can't escape Africa's realities entirely because they spend each day in the back seat of taxis driven by black men who have fled from Africa's non-functioning economies. It is always disconcerting when one talks with these African taxi drivers to find they are often better educated than American blacks in similar jobs. They are in America not because Africa is stupid but because Africa's politicians are often corrupt and have stupid ideas that ruin the people beneath them.
Daniel_Henninger  HIV  Africa  Kenya  Non-Integrating_Gap  hopelessness  failed_states  politicians  misgovernance  misrule  corruption  poor_governance 
june 2012 by jerryking
What history can teach us about SARS
Apr. 14, 2003 | TIME |By Pete Davies .As scientists race to unravel the mysteries of SARS, one issue high on their agenda will be the likelihood that the new virus is a cross-species transmission in which the virus has mutated from its animal carrier so that it can infect humans, who have no immunity from the alien invader. The most obvious examples of this are HIV and influenza, and the latter disease has disturbing parallels with SARS. The flu virus lives usually in the stomachs of waterfowl, and the two are co-adapted — the birds don't get sick. It is widely believed among virologists, however, that with the domestication of ducks in southern China 2,000-3,000 years ago, flu jumped species.

This region has always had high densities of people living in close proximity to large populations of pigs and chickens. It's not known in which order, but with this ready pool of targets near at hand, flu has transferred from ducks to all three species — and once established, it can swap back and forth between its different new hosts with devastating effect. The virus survives and thrives by constantly mutating — so that just as our immune systems recognize and kill off one strain, a new one emerges against which our defenses don't work. Most are minor adaptations, the product of genetic "drift." Every now and then, however, something more dramatic occurs: a genetic "shift." Also termed "a reassortment event," this is the creation of a wholly new strain with genetic elements taken from viruses found in different species.
China  epidemics  genetic_drift  genetic_shift  viruses  flu_outbreaks  SARS  proximity  zoonosis  zoonotic  genes  HIV  influenza 
may 2012 by jerryking
From Ducks to Pigs to Humans? - WSJ.com
April 22, 2003 | WSJ | By STEPHEN MORSE.
SAR was not the first such outbreak, and it will not be the last. Before SARS, human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, rose from obscurity in the 1970s and '80s to become a global public health crisis, leaving millions of orphans in its wake. Outbreaks of ebola, of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in food and water have also appeared in recent years. And, of course, the flu still has surprises in store, such as the avian ("bird flu") strains that have infected humans in recent years.
epidemics  SARS  flu_outbreaks  HIV  influenza  zoonotic 
may 2012 by jerryking
Chimp to Human to History Books - The Circuitous Path of AIDS - NYTimes.com
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: October 17, 2011

Dr. Jacques Pépin, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, performs a remarkable feat. He documents
Our story begins sometime close to 1921, somewhere between the Sanaga River in Cameroon and the Congo River in the former Belgian Congo. It involves chimps and monkeys, hunters and butchers, “free women” and prostitutes, syringes and plasma-sellers, evil colonial lawmakers and decent colonial doctors with the best of intentions. And a virus that, against all odds, appears to have made it from one ape in the central African jungle to one Haitian bureaucrat leaving Zaire for home and then to a few dozen men in California gay bars before it was even noticed — about 60 years after its journey began.
AIDS  disease  Congo  primates  HIV  viruses  origin_story 
october 2011 by jerryking
Precursor to H.I.V. Was in Monkeys for Millennia, Study Says - NYTimes.com
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: September 16, 2010 "What happened in Africa in the early 20th century that let a mild monkey disease move into humans, mutate to become highly transmissible and then explode into one of history’s great killers, one that has claimed 25 million lives so far? "
AIDS  history  viruses  HIV  primates 
september 2010 by jerryking

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