Tackling the problem of antibiotic resistance at (one) source
In the past year or so there has been a slew of high-level meetings pointing to antibiotic resistance as a growing threat to human well-being. But then, resistance was always an inevitable, Darwinian consequence of antibiotic use. Well before penicillin was widely available, Ernst Chain, who went on to win a Nobel Prize for his work on penicillin, noted that some bacteria were capable of neutralising the antibiotic.
What is new about the recent pronouncements and decisions is that the use of antibiotics in agriculture is being recognised, somewhat belatedly, as a major source of resistance. Antibiotic manufacturers and the animal health industry have, since the start, done everything they can to deny that. Indeed, the history of efforts to regulate the use of antibiotics in agriculture reveals a pretty sordid approach to public health.
But while it can be hard to prove the connection between agriculture and a specific case of antibiotic resistance, a look at hundreds of recent academic studies showed that almost three quarters of them did demonstrate a conclusive link.
Antibiotic resistance – whether it originates with agriculture or inappropriate medical use – takes us back almost 100 years, when infectious diseases we now consider trivial could, and did, kill. It reduces the effectiveness of other procedures too, such as surgery and chemotherapy, by making it more likely that a subsequent infection will wreck the patient’s prospects. So it imposes huge costs on society as a whole.
Maybe society as a whole needs to tackle the problem. The Oxford Martin School, which supports a portfolio of highly interdisciplinary research groups at Oxford University, has a Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease. They recently published a paper proposing a tax on animal products produced with antibiotics. Could that possibly work?
Here’s another great example of a negative externality. Too often capitalism brushes over these and creates a larger longer term cost by not taking these into account. It’s almost assuredly the case that taxing the use of these types of antibiotics across the broadest base of users (eaters) (thereby minimizing the overall marginal cost), would help to minimize the use of these or at least we’d have the funding for improving the base issue in the future. In some sense, the additional cost of eating organic meat is similar to this type of “tax”, but the money is allocated in a different way.
Not covered here are some of the economic problems of developing future antibiotics when our current ones have ceased to function as the result of increased resistance over time. This additional problem is an even bigger worry for the longer term. In some sense, it’s all akin to the cost of smoking and second hand smoke–the present day marginal cost to the smoker of cigarettes and taxes is idiotically low in comparison to the massive future cost of their overall health as well as that of the society surrounding them. Better to put that cost upfront for those who really prefer to smoke so that the actual externalities are taken into account from the start.
US Digital Service - making government better. Alphabet Q2 earnings up, stocks down. Chrome's ad blocker is available to devs. Not everybody likes Google's plan to track offline sales. Is privacy a fad? Facebook hits 2 billion users. Bitcoin splits, and miners revolt. ACLU supports John Oliver. Millennials confused by discovery of broadcast TV.
Jeff's Number: $600/head SV restaurant with gold-flecked steaks
Matt Cutt's Thing: Hack the Pentagon!
Kevin Marks' Stuff: IndieWeb.org, Liberty Foundation, extra thumb prosthetic
Awesome to see/hear Matt Cutts return to the show.
Musical Podcasts. Google Glass for Enterprise. New Google Feed. Better Google Analytics. Facebook News Subscription. Amazon Meal Kits, Spark, Treasure Truck, and Outfit Compare. Samsung Bixby arrives in the US. Net Neutrality Day results.
Musical podcasts sound like an interesting proposition, but are likely better as a larger production stream. I’m curious what the budget was for the piece and how they’re monetizing it?
I’ve been wondering about Bixby on my Samsung 8, but somehow I’ve never really bothered to use it. It doesn’t seem as interesting or as easy to use as my Amazon Alexa. Perhaps it’s time to dig into it a bit? I have been enjoying some minor Alexa use on my phone recently. I’m curious how they compare now.
Today is the Net Neutrality Day of Action. Go to BattleForTheNet.com and write your congressperson. Also, The Pixel XL 2 may feature a squeezable frame. Allo is coming to the desktop in "a few weeks." Android 7.1 has "Panic Detection" mode. Facebook will sell ads in Messenger. Amazon Prime Day sales up 60% over last year's record-setting haul - with Echo Dot as the top-selling item. Samsung Galaxy Note 8 may explode onto the scene on August 23rd. Make Nokia great again. China teleports matter to space.
Jeff's Numbers: Google spends $800,000 on newsbots that write 30,000 articles a month in the UK. Google doesn't owe France 1.1bn euros in back taxes.
Danny's Stuff: Silk Vault Slim Wallet Case, The Big Sick
Stacey's Thing: Fibaro HomeKit Sensors
EU fines Google €2.42 billion, Canada demands global de-listing. Google News' redesign causes Jeff concern. YouTube Party. Amazon Show unboxing. Facebook hits 2 billion users. Petya ransomware may be retaliation for Russian cyberwarfare on Ukraine. Jeff's report from Vidcon.
Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods and how it could change grocery stores. The transition from an economy of goods to one of experiences. Uber and Lyft get their way in Texas after refusing to comply with an ordinance requiring fingerprint background checks for drivers. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns and whether or not the corporate culture of Uber was necessary for its success.
Stacey's Thing: Radical Technologies - The Design of Every Day Life by Adam Greenfield
Mike's Number: 18, the number of Girl Scout badges introduced for cybersecurity education
Leo's Tool: Search for "Spinner" on Google
I enjoyed the discussion of the purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon. I had described a big chunk of the value there as Amazon buying up a lot of the only warehouse space available in housing zoned areas while they described it as solving the last mile problem in local delivery. This is essentially the same thing, though they didn’t mention Amazon’s experiments with delivery via drones which could easily become a reality with not only warehouse space, but landing pads and bases in every big neighborhood with a Whole Foods located within them.
It was cool to hear the news about Girl Scouts adding lots of cybersecurity badges to their list.
Leo, Jeff, and Stacey are all off this week, so Jason Howell, Ron Richards, and Kevin Marks are in charge. The Essential phone will be a Sprint exclusive, but that doesn't mean you can't buy one and use it with whatever service you want. Google's successor to the Pixel XL may be getting even bigger, and might get made by LG this time around. The current Pixel XL will self-destruct on October of 2018. Google's cute little self-driving cars are self-driving off into the sunset. Google Drive wants to back up your whole computer. Softbank is buying Boston Dynamics. Google's Project Sunroof lets you know which neighbors have solar power. Facebook expands safety check in a possibly stressful way.
Kevin's Pick: IndieWeb and IndieWeb Summit
Ron's Pick: Astro
Jason's Pick: pix2pix fotogenerator
The conversation about how Facebook is doing their safety check is intriguing. How should they be doing it better to inform people who might be concerned, but without creating undue stress to others who generally aren’t involved or nearby? This is particularly interesting to me as I’m often near to frequent forest fires in Los Angeles, not to mention the future potential of major earthquake events.
Google will add a feature to Chrome that will block "bad ads." Meanwhile, Funding Choices will let you pay sites for an ad-free experience. Google helps kids "Be Internet Awesome." Amazon announces a way to get Prime on the cheap, and an inexpensive "Ice" phone. HomePod vs Google Home vs Amazon Echo.... FIGHT!
Jason's Pick: Kotlin for Beginners (Udacity)
Stacey's Thing: Snooz
Danny's Stuff: Personal Search Tab
Government's role in online privacy. Mary Meeker's 2017 Internet trends report. Android creator Andy Rubin's new Essential phone. The true meaning of "covfefe." Does Netflix care about Net Neutrality? Chipotle hacked. Google's expensive gender pay gap.
Chipotle just can’t catch a break anymore.
I remember there used to be days when Meeker’s report would consume an entire episode of shows like this, and now it seems like it barely gets a passing message because it’s become so dense.
Google releases the Jamboard, their smart whiteboard. How Google's ATAP has changed. Google can now track your offline credit card purchases. Why is it so hard to get Android apps on Chromebooks? What is Fuschia? Android Automotive will take over your car's dashboard. Java creator James Gosling is going to AWS. 1Password introduces Travel Mode to protect you at the border. Chaos Computer Club demonstrates how to hack Samsung's Iris Detection with just a camera and a contact lens. The FCC really wants to kill net neutrality, and they will beat you up if you ask them polite questions. Ford's new CEO is all about self-driving cars, but Waymo has a huge lead over everyone else. Uber angers customers, drivers, and pretty much the entire city of Pittsburgh.
Jeff's Number: Google Street view is 10 years old, and artists love it.
Stacey's Thing: WeMo Dimmer Switch
Ron Amadeo's Stuff: Elegato Stream Deck
Net neutrality again? Why can’t the FCC just give up on trying to kill it?
“How attached are you to the idea of being white?” Chenjerai Kumanyika puts that question to host John Biewen, as they revisit an unfinished conversation from a previous episode. Part 7 of our series, Seeing White.
Relistened to this episode as a prelude to getting back into it after a long summer. Glad that there are so many more episodes to catch up on.
In the conclusion of this series, we peer into the future of human-robot combinations on the waterfront and in the rest of the supply chain. We’ll hear about the strange future of cyborg trucking and meet the friendly little helper bots in warehouses. The view of automation that sees only a battle between robots vs. humans is wrong. It’s humans all the way down.
The key to replacing jobs lost to robots and automation is going to be much more education, and we’re doing a painfully poor job of it. This episode is a bit more upbeat about the technology side as well as the human side of things. It’s fine to do the one, but it does a disservice to the other without the added complexities of the problems.
In sum, this was a great series of episodes that shows a lot of what the average person is missing about how global trade happens and how intricate it can be. It’s impressive how much ground can be covered in just a few short episodes. I recommend the entire series to everyone.
It started with a puzzle: why were people in West Oakland dying 12-15 years earlier than their counterparts in the wealthier hills? The people in the flatlands were dying of the same things as the people in the hills, just much younger. Meet the doctor who helped make the case that air pollution from cargo handling was one big part of the answer, and the smart-dressing, wise-cracking environmental activist who helped to clean up the air. This is an inside look at the problems that come with being a major node in the network of global trade—and the solutions that people have devoted their lives to implementing.
This episode has a great example of a negative externality. Our current administration would like to paper over such effects in society, particularly when they involve non-whites, and call fixing such problems “over regulation” instead of charging the businesses and corporations which cause them to fix or clean them up. I’m glad this particular one was managed to be dealt with, but I can’t help but think about all the others, many of which we simply don’t know about for lack of interest or data to measure them. Far better if we call them citizen protection measures and fix them.