Category: COVID-19

Written by: Matthew Turco | Posted on: | Category:

I just read this inspiring article from Forbes about how Pfizer is fast tracking the development and manufacturing of a vaccine for COVID- 19. Of course, they aren’t the only ones working furiously for a treatment or vaccine. And while it is hard not to applaud the leadership and the uncharacteristic cooperation among biotech companies, I see two problems—the mythical man month and the unfortunate polarization of science.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “Mythical Man Month”, let me oversimplify it this way...

You can’t cut development time in half simply by investing double the resources.

For example, if it takes 10 programmers, 12 months to complete a project, then can you add an additional 10 programmers to complete the project in six months? The argument made many decades ago was that the answer is a resounding “no”. Granted, if you are starting with a clear lack of adequate resources, then adding resources can certainly hasten the completion of any project. That’s just common sense. But at some point, adding more resources not only fails to improve productivity, but it actually hinders progress due to the increased overhead of additional communication and other common issues of scale.

And while there have been advances in project management since the concept of the Mythical Man Month was first published (for example, there’s much better software as well as great promise in Agile and Critical Chain thinking), it hasn’t eliminated cold hard reality—at some point, adding more resources halts, and then reverses progress.

So while an “all hands on deck” approach to finding a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 is a sensible and appropriate approach to this pandemic, we may have to curtail our most optimistic expectations that this approach will yield a proportionate decrease in the development time.

The other part of the Coronavirus development that concerns me is that world is rapidly bifurcating on the issue of vaccines ...

Written by: Matthew Turco | Posted on: | Category:

Last week, I read this excellent article on The Atlantic website covering all the intricacies and difficulties surrounding the coronavirus. And then when you look at the politics of it, I’m again reminded that logic itself is hard enough, but rigorous logic is even harder — numerators, denominators, probabilities, the effects of false positives and negatives, the law of large numbers, common biases, etc.

If you read any good article about how crazy it has been over the past couple of months trying to get through this coronavirus situation and start to understand what the true risks are of longer or shorter lockdowns, various treatments, fast- tracked vaccines, ventilators, etc., you really begin to appreciate how easy it has been to be misled by not looking at the entire picture and how harmful it can be when thousands of people are making public (digitally distributed) comments based on incorrect information or assumptions.

This all makes an excellent case why statistics should be taught in every high school. It is far more useful than trigonometry and calculus (although I’m certainly in favor of those as well). Should we even be allowed to vote until we can demonstrate understanding both in how probabilities & statistics work and how people can lie using statistics? Isn’t that what high school is supposed to ensure — an educated populace?

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Most of my writings are about lifelong learning (how it must evolve in the 21st century and how to do it well enough so that we may reap the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for doing so).

This blog is a place where I will publish my thoughts on how current events relate to lifelong learning as well as some other topics of interest. Also, I may share various incomplete or half-baked thoughts here as I rummage through my two million words of unpublished content to get them prepared for publishing over on Genius By Design (my primary website).

Basically, Anakin.com is what falls on the cutting room floor. Enjoy.

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