Yaneer Bar-Yam (Complex Systems and why we need another ‘real’ lockdown urgently)

In this episode of the Judgment Call Podcast Yaneer Bar-Yam and I talk about:

  • 00:02:22 What is the science of complex systems? How does it choose the proper layer of abstraction?
  • 00:11:33 What role social media plays in modelling a ‘social collective’?
  • 00:14:47 Why AI is not helpful modelling the pandemic.
  • 00:18:46 Is consciousness just an algorithm? Will it simply emerge if the algorithm is right?
  • 00:22:01 Why humanity faces extinction in pandemics unless it organizes collective behavior according to Yaneer Bar-Yam.
  • 00:22:15 Is COVID a virus that will stick around just like the flu? Is it different than diseases we suffered through over the millenia?
  • 00:30:01 Can we still stop COVID? What would it entail? What role does the vaccine play?
  • 00:34:13 Why we need another (real) and hard lockdown to burn out the virus according to Prof. Bar-Yam.
  • 00:37:12 What is the exit strategy after a lockdown? Why no country has fully opened up yet (incl. travel restrictions).
  • 00:40:00 Why travel bubbles never seem to get started (after being announced).
  • 00:45:23 What we should do when a new virus hits? How we potentially stop any new virus?

Prof. Yaneer Bar-Yam is the President of the New England Complex Systems Institute. His recent work quantitatively analyzes the origins and impacts of market crashes, social unrest, ethnic violence, military conflict and pandemics, the structure and dynamics of social networks, as well as the bases of creativity, panic, evolution and altruism.

You can also watch this episode on Youtube – #50 – Yaneer Bar-Yam (Complex Systems and why we need another ‘real’ lockdown urgently).

He is the author of two books: a textbook Dynamics of Complex Systems, and Making Things Work, which applies complex systems science to solving problems in healthcare, education, systems engineering, international development, and ethnic conflict.


Welcome to the Judgment Call Podcast, a podcast where I bring together some of the most curious minds on the planet. Risk takers, adventurers, travelers, investors, entrepreneurs and simply mindbogglers. To find all episodes of this show, simply go to Spotify, iTunes or YouTube or go to our website judgmentcallpodcast.com. If you like this show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes or subscribe to us on YouTube. This episode of the Judgment Call Podcast is sponsored by Mighty Travels Premium. Full disclosure, this is my business. We do at Mighty Travels Premium is to find the airfare deals that you really want. Thousands of subscribers have saved up to 95% in the airfare. Those include $150 round trip tickets to Hawaii for many cities in the US or $600 life let tickets in business class from the US to Asia or $100 business class life let tickets from Africa round trip all the way to Asia. In case you didn’t know, about half the world is open for business again and accepts travelers. Most of those countries are in South America, Africa and Eastern Europe. To try out Mighty Travels Premium, go to mightytravels.com slash MTP or if that’s too many levels for you, simply go to MTP, the number four and the letter you.com to sign up for your 30 day free trial. You have been involved in complexity research for the last 25, 30 years, correct me if that’s not the right time frame. It is something that people like me who don’t know much about it think of very complicated and it’s something that can give us predictions about things that seem really complicated. What is it actually about? The main thing is that complexity science is about the breakdown of the mathematical tools that we use for science. Calculus and statistics are, let’s call them mathematical languages or platforms and they don’t describe everything that we want to describe about the world. This is not widely appreciated, but the point is that when you get to questions that you want to answer that calculus systems don’t answer for you, you have to build new mathematical frameworks and that’s what complexity science is about. It was discovered in 1970, well not 1970, the solution in 1970 was developed for a problem where the most general mathematical description within the context of calculus and statistics was written down. It was wrong describing phase transitions like boiling of water and in order to solve that problem, Ken Wilson developed basically new mathematical framework. In the context of the way you’re thinking about it, when you have a system that is complex, you really need to focus on what matters because otherwise you can just get lost in detail after detail after detail without end or you’re pointing at the wrong things. The ability to identify what really matters is a key aspect of understanding complex systems and calculus and statistics don’t tell you how to think about that and basically what this new math is, it’s called renormalization that does that. But in addition to that as sort of a general framework, there are many other tools like thinking in terms of network descriptions and nonlinear dynamics and fractals and all of those in one way or another are violating the assumptions of calculus and statistics. Interesting. I’ve become a big fan of Nassim Talib’s work and I realize you work with him a lot in a couple of different research studies. He’s been popularizing a similar research from what I assume with his observations mostly about financial systems, about our stock market works and what happened with financial crisis. What have you been focusing on over the years? The main thing about Nassim’s work is the breakdown of assumptions about independence and statistics that gives rise to normal distributions and ultimately when normal distributions don’t apply you end up with fat tail or what can be called fat tail distributions. The point is that you have to change the way you think about the problem. The typical event is no longer the correct description of what’s going on. Once that’s true, one has to go back and basically rewrite all of the stuff that one learns in college about statistics and probabilities and so on. That’s one piece of a discussion of what happens when you have high dimensional systems and how they create behaviors at different scales. My focus has been on the general problem of high dimensional systems and how interdependence. It’s really all about interdependence ultimately because if you didn’t have interdependence then calculus and statistics would hold. That’s another way to talk about the reason that you need complexity science. Go ahead. You had other questions you wanted to ask. One thing that we hear a lot is that things seem to be getting more complex and a lot of people associate this with human society or with the economy is being structured. It’s a 2000 maybe older lamentation that people feel stressed out by this complexity that seemingly seems to increase all the time. Is that a myth from your point of view or that is actually what’s happening? No, there is a one can do an analysis of the complexity of collective behavior of civilization basically and show that it is increasing over time. The difficulty that people have about understanding complexity is that complexity is a function of scale. It depends on the scale of observation. If you go to the scale at which you only see planets as points then the earth is a very simple system. But if you go to the scale of human beings and the complexity is high, of course it’s also high if you go to the scale of molecules. But if molecules are independent then the way their complexity changes with scale is different than if they’re interdependent. What’s happened is that civilization has become complex by virtue of the interdependence of human behaviors. It’s like you order a can of Coca Cola and the question is what is the where do the components come from or a car. A car is manufactured in multiple countries and they come together. So everything that you do becomes globally interdependent when civilization has these kinds of dependencies and that’s the nature of the complexity that is increasing. And that’s what we need to understand about it in a deeper way. Is that also true that the challenge for the individual has risen so it’s gotten more complicated to live a normal life so to speak or that’s just true for the particular society but that’s actually hidden from us? That’s a much more subtle question because individuals can find life simpler complex depending upon the environment that they’re in at the individual level. The difficulty that is to understand is actually the understanding of the complexity of the collective behaviors of people together. And that’s the issue that is overwhelming people is understanding sort of how society as a whole works. For me a research and I read a bunch of white papers and tried to go through some parts of the books that you’ve written over the years. What I found really interesting was one particular section where you talk about the higher as more complex a problem is as more complex the organization or society that is able to solve this and simple hierarchies that we use to have like a monarchy or a roman empire they were inherently limited because the societies that they can produce when we look back now they were too simple to solve complex problems and that’s in the end why they failed to solve these complex problems that were presented themselves to them. The main problem is just to say it in the language that’s clear. If the collective behavior of human beings is more complex than an individual then an individual can’t specify and cannot control the collective behavior of those individuals and we’ve passed that threshold which is a statement about the failure of hierarchical organizations in business and in society including governance structures and that’s a problem of complexity. Just to jump forward in terms of the conversation it ironically pandemics are not that complex. The nature of the behaviors that are required is fairly simple and the ability of governance structures to do them is not undermined even if they’re hierarchical organizations. Nevertheless we see a breakdown of the ability of governance structures to control the pandemic. The main reason is that they’re so overwhelmed by probably complexity in general that they don’t know how to see and understand the simple behavior that is needed in order to respond to this outbreak. What role would you attribute both of these instances to social media which seems to be a catalyst in a way that we are not just reacting to our own personal history but also to our desires but we are making other people’s desires, other people’s problems, a bigger part of our conscience in that moment and we change our reaction that we would normally be relatively easy to predict. We change it more quickly and go more at hertz. Is that a major difference to the outcome of your predictions? Yeah, I mean basically social media manifests the multi scale behaviors of social systems including these herd behaviors. So yes that’s a brief statement but it’s a very ancient statement at this point. The nature of social collectives is quite obviously quite elaborate in society and I wouldn’t, I mean the social media is a piece of that. When you look at what happens in the AI research it seems to be scaling up quite a bit in terms of pure machine power and predictive capabilities and we had David Orban on and give us an example of the doubling rate is now between four to two months and not 18 months like it is with Moore’s law. So there seems to be an enormous amount of computing power that comes online and we see this obviously with the big tech companies in first hand. What do you think is this, what is the impact on this on complexity research because suddenly we can actually model things in very fine granularity that before we didn’t have a good influence or a good measurement on. You know AI has not helped us with pandemic response, why? The reason is structural AI is actually the modern AI is based on statistical assumptions and as I said complexity science is all about the fact that statistical assumptions don’t actually apply in the real world and the reason that AI is based, you can understand that because AI is trained by huge amounts of data but complexity is multiplicative, it’s exponential and the AI assumptions are basically additive in the behavior of the system. So the point is that you can have huge amounts of data and you cannot use it to describe complex behavior because you would need exponential data in the variables of the system which you can never get. So that actually is the description of the limitation of the AI frameworks that are being used today and in some senses that need to be discussed in more detail but time is short to do this now. The human brain actually is designed around a different architecture, it’s designed around a non universal architecture that allows different people to be outstanding at different things and that is a multiplicative architecture and therefore it enables us to do things collectively, individually first and then collectively that current schema of AI is unable to do. So in principle my analysis historically has been that human civilization is going through a transition where human collectives are able to do exponentially or multiplicatively complex things and ultimately AI the way we’re thinking about it is not able to do that. AI is really just now being able to do very basic pattern recognition tasks which a two year old could do and then there is this leap of faith that you can go from there into what human beings do in general and it’s just not the right framework. It’s like it’s this one two three you know infinity kind of projection like I can go up in steps so I can also get to the moon. That’s just not the way science and advancement of understanding works. That doesn’t mean that what AI is doing isn’t important and powerful and relevant to social change all of which is no doubt true but the main thing that we’re facing right now is a transformation of society itself and society itself is transforming not by virtue of technology per se but much more importantly by how human beings are able to collaborate with each other in order to take advantage of the fact that we are different from each other and therefore capable of doing things together that we wouldn’t be able to do separately. Yeah when you and I think I can already guess the answer when you project this forward 20 or 30 years a lot of people talk about the singularity and how it will impact and how hard it is to see through this moment that’s why they call it singularity because we have access to so much sheer computing power and it’s so cheap. No it’s all about human being. It’s not about computing power computing power it’s like it’s more like the fact that we have oil that can can run machines right computing power is a different dimension but it’s not the dimension of complexity. The dimension of complexity is much harder to replicate. It’s something that in the meantime computers and computation and AI are not able to do despite the belief that they can. It’s really about people changing not people changing individually though that’s also true. It’s mostly about people changing and how they function together. Yeah and this ability to do that requires consciousness so what is the part that is intrinsically important for machines to get to? Yeah we can talk about consciousness. It’s called consciousness business has been has been turned into a a deity. Consciousness is is a process that arises from certain functional roles that you can model in networks of neurons if you want. It’s it’s not been done in the process of AI but that’s because it’s it’s sort of in a different direction. It’s like what you need to do is have emergence of combining two different processes together and traditional current AI is based upon feedforward systems and not recursive systems that you can think about recursive systems but the point is that and again I mean we can give reference to this so people can read about it. If people want there’s a book a textbook that I’ve written called dynamics of complex systems and there are two chapters that are on neural networks and and the third chapter in the textbook talks about multiple aspects of human cognitive function and in particular about consciousness and I don’t want to I mean I can answer it briefly but I don’t know that people understand you have to build up building blocks so there’s there are two most important building blocks that we need to understand. One is this feedforward process that has input output and the other is a recursive process that goes to attractors and enables you to imprint information like you know ducklings following their mother. You cannot train a feedforward network to recognize your mother in a single imprint so some capability is missing in standard AI concepts and the answer is you have to think about these different kinds of capabilities and then combine them together in order to get a model of what I understand at least consciousness to be but it’s an emergent property it’s not a you know micro scale or or or you know quantum gravity concept it’s a it’s just a process that arises when you have certain ways of combining things that are dependent on each other but but that creates an opportunity for thinking also about consciousness as a social construct and and that consciousness as a social construct can be constructed it’s a particular organizational structure where people can go around saying you know is this me kind of thing which is a kind of consciousness kind of thing but way too much to talk about in a short conversation that’s kind of a longer conversation but the basic idea is again the following we have a societal transformation but going back to the end statement that I would make we’re kind of blowing it okay with a pandemic right if you think about you know even you know the complexity of development of a human being from a fetus right you can say hey that fetus is going to grow into a human being it’s going to be a thinking capable it’s going to be able to do all of these things but you can get a stillbirth and then you don’t have anything and right now human civilization as far as I understand it is is is at risk so we don’t necessarily make it through this transition what do you think what you would expect of human society you sound like you have much higher expectation than what’s the well I mean we have people with challenges we’re in a we’re in a death spiral with this pandemic and and if not this pandemic then the next one right because you know the the reason why I got involved in pandemics was because I did an analysis that showed that if you have too much global transportation that you end up with extinction you go from local outbreaks of diseases to global extinction and the alternative to that model is not surely not to be passive right because if you’re passive that’s exactly what happens you go into this extinction there is an alternative that if you if you’re able to have collective behaviors that are able to respond to a pandemic then they can stop it and we know that we can do that with this pandemic but what’s happening actually is that the society is choosing to be passive and that passivity guarantees right now it’s with all the variants it’s guaranteeing that we’re going to have you know endemicity which means the virus is going to be circulating in the population it’s going to end up progressively creating new variants and in the regime that we’re in with global transportation that people want to sustain that’s extinction because there’s nothing that stops the virus from getting worse and worse and killing off more and more and that’s exactly what the model said so the point is that you have this range of behaviors where you have local outbreaks and local extinctions and when you go across a boundary you end up with global outbreaks and extinctions it’s very clear that we’re past the regime of local outbreaks the only question is do we use a different approach right when we have as a human being our bodies are able to mount huge responses to infections that are able to stop them but it’s imagine a human body that gets infected and the infection continues and continues and continues what’s the chance that you’re going to end up surviving that infection the answer is not at all so the point is the following right now the decisions that are being made the actual decisions day to day that are being made by people in the society are a direction of extinction and again you know maybe we’ll get lucky with this one and the vaccine will be helpful in stopping the outbreak but it’s as soon as you have these new variants that are potentially vaccine evading that’s not a good gamble and in fact we are already suspecting that the variants in South Africa and Brazil know that the UK variant but the South Africa somewhat and Brazilian variant even more are evading immunity and therefore potentially evading also vaccination now when they actually evade vaccination we know enough but if they are evading it a little bit then we’re already in the regime that we may get past that that limit and there are huge numbers of variants that are not named and the reason that they’re not named is that they don’t they’re not the most rapidly transmitting they’re not the most deadly or whatever but the bottom line is that as soon as we have variants in this regime we will have other variants that are even more vaccine evading that may be less transmissible or or whatever they’re just going to take a few more months to develop given all of the virus that’s in the world and basically the the that’s the expected outcome right now if you talk to the experts they say yeah this is going to be like the flu we’re going to have these viruses going around and around we’ll have to take another vaccine next year or whatever this comes around again and what they don’t understand is it will pass the regime in which that will is what will happen instead the regime that we are going into is the regime of extinction. When you look back into human history and my example would be in say 15th century so you have people from Europe immune to a lot of diseases they go to South America where you know they just want to explore but they obviously want to make money and we attribute the death of millions of people in South America at the time the diseases that were brought in from Europe right but they didn’t and they they killed from what we know a lot of people in South America but they didn’t have an impact around the world that we still feel right the people in Europe are still immune more or less Africa has different strains of diseases I would assume it seemed like there is a certain amount of viruses that just I don’t know they’re just part of that ecosystem and they will always be around that there isn’t much we can do about it. So I don’t know why you say that first of all there is a you know first of all there are diseases that we’ve been living with for you know millennia right yeah we’ve eliminated many of them but we don’t suffer from a lot of the diseases we suffered from 100 years ago 100 years ago the world was a very different place where we had children dying you know a lot we had you know older people would die from disease that was you know being transmitted around the population and even healthy people would get sick and they would end up severely sick and and so on you didn’t expect to live very long and it wasn’t because your body wouldn’t live very long it’s because of the diseases that were present at the on and and we’ve done a huge amount in public health and some of that was just about you know taking strong action to prevent transmission some of that was about vaccinations we’ve done elimination of diseases we’ve done eradication of very few but some and then there are zoonotic diseases these are new diseases that we haven’t lived with but they’re animal diseases and in general they’re much worse than the human diseases because they are over the period of time when we evolved with diseases of thousands of years and they were they were local diseases if a disease was too severe it would just die out local and it wouldn’t persist but again now we’re in a different regime where we have global transportation and when we have global transportation if a disease is severe it doesn’t die out because of local extinction it propagates and does as much damage as you will as as as it can right so that’s the difference in these two regimes so the point is the following it’s not quite that we’re going back to the situation 100 years ago what we’re going to is a situation where diseases that are new diseases are not going to be stopped by the natural dynamics of what’s happening and so the question is are we going to choose to stop them from happening yeah so we have an alternative right you implied that earlier what should we do and said well we have a trend we know how to stop the coronavirus right we know that we can stop it china stopped it’s australia stopped it new zealand stopped it everyone else’s you know much of the west was going around saying let’s try to live with this virus and and it doesn’t really work well right that’s what these yo yo lockdowns are about we’ve been in lockdowns for a year in much of the world and everyone’s complaining about the lockdowns but what they don’t understand is that the lockdowns are because we haven’t decided to get rid of it if we decided to get rid of it we would do one lockdown it would take four to six weeks and we would be over and that’s what australia and new zealand so so the point is i expected early early on in the pandemic right so when i when i looked at the initial figures and i was really worried about the the virus i expected something that looks like china but immediately i knew that us and the way the us and i you know i grew up in europe i thought europe can pull it off maybe but never thought the us can pull it off it’s just not structured that way right so i think i think we we we wanted it and especially san francisco i think was the first county that shut down but the it wasn’t literally it was takeout food instead of going to the restaurant i think that’s the only thing that in my mind really exemplifies this lockdown everything else was going on more or less like normal and less people opted out and stayed home right and that’s really odd because it cannot burn out as you say do you think we still have a chance to do this crazy lockdown like literally we stay home nobody moves for six weeks and then we get the same result so the the answer is my role as a scientist is not to say what will happen you’ll ask me about our ability to understand society and and the answer is i can’t at this point in time make a model of society what i can do as a scientist is say what the choices and what the consequences are of the choices that we have available to us and that’s what i’ve been trying to do and and again the consequence that we are seeing is that instead of taking the short but hard route we’re taking the indefinite route of of cycling virus cycling variants uh a perpetual harm and and what we can say is that that route is not an exit it’s not a good outcome but what i can’t say is what people will choose to do but can we in principle do it absolutely it’s still basically the same problem it gets harder and harder there’s more and more harm the vaccine makes it easier honestly it’s a hugely powerful tool but at the same time the virus is getting stronger and stronger with the variants so the point is that if right now we said look we want to get rid of this we have the vaccine we would use the vaccine while we’re doing other restrictions and we would use it to reduce the transmission as much as possible and then get to zero and we need to use a geographical opening rather than a sectoral opening right it’s a green zone strategy that’s the the science of the control parameters that’s what it tells you so we have to do these things like travel restrictions and so on for a short amount of time in order to get out of this but the point is what happened to yeah there is this big problem you know San Francisco started out with this really early insight it’s two weeks to stop the spread it makes a lot of sense i think 99 percent of the population was 100 behind it but it is and not a year right and it’s going to be right or five years very soon the problem is that and no one trusts these institutions anymore they’ve lost all credibility in my mind right there’s a huge amount of misinformation at the time there was ih and me or whatever it is this modeling place it basically said look we’re going to do a lockdown and then things are going to happen exactly the way they happen in China and the answer is we did a halfway lockdown we didn’t look at what was needed in order to be successful and and the point is that this is not a this is like a wrestling match you know you look at someone they say okay they planted their feet so because they planted their feet you know we’re gonna win no you have to know how to use your hands and your feet and your head in order to get through a wrestling match and and the point is that there is a lot of this belief that you know hey we have a good medical system so that we’ll be okay it’s that’s just not the way it works in a pandemic a pandemic is about community transmission so you have to have people that basically are watching and saying look we need to get that we need to be successful this is a hard fight we’re going to do everything that it takes in order to win by now we know everything that it takes in order to win we know it inside out and backwards and forwards but we need to actually execute on and if we do all that we execute on the plan it’s not quite two weeks it’s four to six weeks and I’m running out of power here but if we did it for four to six weeks and we understood that we need to open up this is the most important thing you can’t open up before you’re there this is like putting out fires we have a zero fire policy in the United States and in much of the world right in all of the world as far as I know we don’t let fires burn we put them out i.e. house fires you know city fires and we need to do the same thing for the pandemic we need to have a policy that says we’re not going to let it burn and that’s what they’ve done in Australia it’s everyone points to you know Australia is this you know huge but island somehow but it’s a continent with multiple states and boundaries with transportation going across them big cities and they had a boundary within Melbourne we know we can make boundaries that stop transmission from one place to another that’s been shown the point is that what we need to do is to say we’re on a mission if this comes we’re going to put it out and so there have been small outbreaks in Australia but they didn’t sit back and say well we’ll wait and see what happened they pounced on it and put it out and as a result they’ve been in rock concerts and in sports you know the australia opened and and then there’s the america’s cup in new zealand and all kinds of parties anywhere in normal life but they also don’t have a lot to leave which i think is a huge restriction on so we have to make that huge restriction on our citizenship that’s right i think there’s a lot of downsides that we need to be open about that’s right i think not that people think it through that way the one downside which is the most important one is we have to limit travel but if we do that then other people will do it too the main problem that we’ve been facing is everyone is looking at everyone else and saying these guys are bad actors they’re not going to do it but if we all did it and this is why we need global coordination global decision making at this level then we would have been done with this a long time yeah i that would be sad too you know it is it again if you talk about six weeks i think we we all agree this is nothing even to worry about and it’s the right thing to do and i think the trouble is that we had this staggered lockdown that never seems to end but if you talk about years and years and there’s no real outside there’s no exit no clear exit strategy out of this to never be able to travel again i’m not sure that’s something deep this population with this kind of virus wants to accept obviously the virus changes and it’s more deadly than people’s opinions will change but once you suppress the outbreak there’s actually multiple exit strategies one of them is just you know expanding continually expanding the areas that are without the disease atlantic canada doesn’t have it quebec could do it and then you know vermont could do it and then you know uh massachusetts could do it so we can go progressively in that direction and take advantage of the fact that other places are are without the disease in order to travel but you can also take advantage of the fact that you have the vaccine so right now we’re trying to take advantage of the vaccine but if we are aimed for elimination it makes it much easier and in particular we’re aimed for elimination we wouldn’t have the variants there’s no australian variant yeah what’s interesting is that a bunch of countries in asia they basically only had travel restrictions and even those were coming in pretty late and they seem to have at least to our knowledge very little um covid clusters so i’m talking about japan we’re just probably on the high side when we talk about korea and taiwan and that’s pretty interesting right japan has controlled its outbreak and japan and korea have not done as good a job as china and uh new zealand australia taiwan thailand and uh you know vietnam yeah but they never had six weeks of lockdown from what i can understand right so the point is that they they did better at the control but they didn’t get rid of it and so japan has had three major outbreak waves and now the the second largest party is saying that they should go to elimination the point is that elimination is a different outcome because you don’t have the restrictions anymore domestically so you can talk about the fact that you still have restrictions internationally and you say hey that’s a big restriction on the population i can’t hop on a plane and go to south africa or wherever i want to go but at the same time you can go to the local bar and meet with your friends and have a good time and go you know have a touch game of whatever it is and you can go visit your friends wherever you want to in your family as long as it’s within the area that you’ve achieved the elimination so the whole life if you if you think about most of what life is about if you achieve elimination even locally much of life is normal and yes so you can’t hop on a plane and go to mexico for a weekend or something like that but that’s the very different level of restriction than not being able to get together with your friends or your family well the question remains that might be a very long period right so there might be years we’re talking about no other countries are at the same level and these travel bubbles never seem to work like they’re being announced but they never happen museum in Australia never happened Singapore Hong Kong never happened there seems to be no trust so it’s hard to do it because people are kind of up against the wall because of all the cases that are being imported and so they’re they’re risk averse but again part of that is refinement of the way we do that Australia has open travel within the country they had a restriction between Melbourne and the rest of Victoria that’s opened up so you say travel bubble didn’t work but it is working they have travel between outside of Australia yeah but they have also had a travel bubble within Atlantic Canada and they’re reopening that after having an outbreak so the point is that you know again the travel restrictions at the large scale are the last are among the last things that you can relax but the travel restrictions at the local scale you can relax much faster and so that and we’ve seen that because because that’s what’s happening right so again we also have no immunity for the local population right so assume the vaccine doesn’t come because it goes through you can get it you can get immunity but you just need a few cases you don’t you don’t get and then exponentially takes off whereas the other populations would have immunity vaccinate we’re done with isn’t dying out and immunization the same thing well if there’s one people are immune it cannot spread all there in any part of the world in other words the people who got sick before are not being helped in Brazil either they’re being reinfected so the Brazilian variant is infecting the people were infected before so nobody in the world has immunity the Brazilian variant if we allow the variants take place so that’s the Australians can never travel again we’re going to never have that immunity this is what I told you if we want to be in the regime of global transportation we have to accept the responsibility of being able to stop it otherwise we’re into the extinction regime so what you’ve told me that Australians or New Zealanders don’t have immunity Americans don’t have immunity either neither do Europeans they never gained it because the fact that they got sick didn’t give them immunity from the variants you mean because it mutates right because it changes its structure yeah yeah yeah well that would be a very sad house come that would be surprising right a lot of those diseases give you immunity um but that doesn’t happen in this case because the whole point is just like the flu we’ve been treating it like the flu and allowing it to multiply we have billions of virus around the world so it it mutates that’s what it does so if you want the world where viruses mutate and they become new viruses that infect everyone and give them disease again and the fact that you were sick before might have been sick before is now a prior condition to even having a worse disease the next time that’s the world that we’re going to right and using that model you feel it makes no difference how deadly a virus is so this virus is very deadly to all people but people low the age of 65 very rare to actually die from it but they end up with well COVID so their health deteriorates right about 10 percent a 10 percent to 50 percent of people depending on how you measure what you measure biological harm or symptomatic damage well there’s already causing people to have severe outcomes and then they’re going to get infected again by the next time the variant comes around so the threshold would you see a threshold for how deadly or how dangerous a virus is we would have to do this for pretty much any virus that comes up right and there’s just tons of those that we’ve seen but this that’s actually the point that I’m making if you want to have global transportation you’re in a regime where viruses evolve towards more lethality more rapidly transmitting and more lethality so the point is the following that there’s a physical reality there’s gravity like gravity right if you go to the moon you don’t have strong gravity you can jump very high that’s the property of gravity as soon as you have global transportation you’re in a regime where if you don’t act to stop viral transmission just like the body right the body has an immune system that attacks viruses and does so aggressively in order to stop them from transmitting if you don’t do that you’ll die but we have to we have 2000 years of global transportation granted much slower no no no smaller this is why there’s a there’s a phase transition it’s like there’s a phase transition between a regime where you have localized outbreaks primarily and a regime where you have globalized out yeah so it’s not a smooth process in other words it doesn’t just get worse a little bit at a time it goes from a situation where you have local outbreaks to a situation where you have global extinction so run me through what would be the the best case scenario so see there’s a new virus let’s forget about covid for a second but there’s a new virus that’s maybe slightly more deadly or it’s exactly the same but it’s a different thing a different way the body responds to it what should we do with you know you get what should you do is a choice of whether you want to live or die okay if you can be the global doctor so to speak no no no wait i mean let’s be clear you have a choice right you can do different things right people have a choice they stand on the edge of the cliff and they sometimes fall off right so people make all kinds of choices but if you have long range transportation belong beyond a small amount so we have flights from here to from the US to to to China to Moscow to south you know Brazil to to Melbourne right then the situation is that if you don’t respond quickly and stop diseases from propagating you’re toast so but i’m trying to get at it so we have a new virus so we should shut down everything for six weeks right whatever the incubation period is very much some diseases you have to understand that different diseases have different properties right understood yeah but i’m just trying to get a frame right so incubation times two weeks we should make sure it would have been enough to do two weeks it’s only once it becomes and that you know embedded in a particular place so you have to do six weeks well i think when we realize what’s going on in march we had community spread in tons of different places all over the world no but it was if you respond quickly it wasn’t going to be the point is the following there are huge numbers of assumption you’re bringing me back to a year ago and it’s just really not uh you know it’s fine you want to talk about a year ago i warned in january that we had a we had a choice and people made all kinds of assumptions that once the disease is someplace you cannot get rid of it and we know that we can get rid of it so the only thing that we needed was a two week period of time during which we would identify where cases would be when you say that there are cases in different places it’s true but they’re not everywhere in those places so for example they they might have been in a particular place in seattle and they might have been in a particular place in new york but they weren’t in rochester or they weren’t in in atlanta or they weren’t in minneapolis or they weren’t in some other place so what china did when the disease started which is not a uh a dictatorship type of thing it’s just a it’s the right action for responding to a disease is they froze everything until they could identify where cases were and once they identified where cases were they were able to respond to it differentially in different places so what you want to do is you want to have the awareness this is like an another way to think about it is you can be a plant or an animal we’ve acted like a plant we take the hit plants don’t have no awareness no consciousness of what’s going on around them no ability to no ability to to react to what’s happening so ideally if i’ve made some this up ideally because it’s a two weeks incubation time the whole world should have stopped for two weeks and that would have been it right because it needs to be synchronized yeah we should have done that i think everybody tried but somehow it didn’t work or maybe we should just get the message out and do it that’s right we should get the message out and do it yeah yeah thanks for doing this thanks for taking the time really appreciate that thank you thanks for for being on the podcast thank you all right talk soon bye bye


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