Right before the pandemic, we ignored some pretty hefty signals. Almost all of us.
We already knew about the danger of new animal-human progressing viruses (SARS epidemic in 2003). But that stayed in Asia and got contained pretty quick, so what's the worry?
Scientists acting upon that danger, did studies on contagion, but their 2011 paper was too dangerous to get published, peers concluded.
Then Bill Gates held his Ted Talk in 2015, titled: "The Next Outbreak. We're not ready". He got duly ignored. Possibly a kneejerk response like "If it's not called tech, then don't talk about it, Bill."
Less than a year later, the World Health Organization had to go to high alert due to the transmission of the Zika Virus in Latin America. In its wake, the WHO informed anyone who wanted to listen that the global health systems would not be able to handle an epidemic. But we got other priorities. Which I can't even remember.
Then in 2019, Wuhan officially kept quiet. No words for that.
But on December 30, 2019, we got warned by an AI system analyzing social media and it said: "Another SARS is spreading quietly in Hankou Wuhan". And we didn't believe it, because it was just an AI that was likely to be wrong.
On January 10, 2020, the WHO announced its first warning, and on January 30 issued a red alert. Finally, on March 11, it gave out the pandemic warning.
And then our governments sprang into debating adequate measures. We're still in that situation, a year later.
I tell this story to show you the fate of information that does not fit our frame of reference. We just do not label it as urgent or relevant. It remains outside the focus or gets discarded entirely.
So free up some time and take a close look at your definition of relevancy. Are you sure that you're not ignoring/discarding a serious threat?
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