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Links for 2020-03-28

  • Percy Ludgate

    ‘a Dublin corn merchant clerk who designed the second analytical engine (general-purpose Turing-complete computer) in history. Charles Babbage in 1843 and Ludgate in 1909 designed the only two mechanical analytical engines before the electromechanical analytical engine of Leonardo Torres y Quevedo of 1920 and its few successors, and the six first-generation electronic analytical engines of 1949. Working alone, Ludgate designed an analytical engine while unaware of Babbage’s designs.’

    (tags: history ireland analytical-engines dublin computers hardware)

  • What happened with the UK’s “herd immunity” COVID-19 strategy

    “I’ll tell you what happened in the UK. Over the past decade, eminent figures in public health developed complex models that would help inform the UK response to a pandemic. The response plan would allow slow spread through a population and a number of deaths that would be deemed acceptable in relation to low economic impact. Timing of population measures such as social distancing would be taken, not early, but at a times deemed to have maximal psychological impact. Measures would be taken that could protect the most vulnerable, and most of the people who got the virus would hopefully survive. Herd immunity would beneficially emerge at the end of this, and restrictions could relax. This was a ground-breaking approach compared to suppressing epidemics. It was an approach that could revolutionise the way we handled epidemics. Complex modelling is a new science, and this was cutting edge. But a model is only ever as good as the assumptions you build it upon. The UK plan was based on models with an assumption that any new pandemic would be like an old one, like flu. And it also carried a huge flaw – there was no accounting for the highly significant variables of ventilators and critical care beds that are key to maintaining higher survival numbers.” Amazing. The sheer arrogance and hubris of assuming the model was right! Somebody will have to pay for this, it’s shocking.

    (tags: herd-immunity hubris arrogance covid-19 uk uk-politics pandemics models data-science epidemiology)