Susan Landau, professor at the University of Tufts in Computer Science and Computer Science, is the secretary of Counting People, a book that is designed for listening programs. He reprinted the articles in Science last week he argued that new health care technologies should be carefully researched to increase the inequalities and injustices already entrenched in society.
“The epidemic will not be the last of its kind,” Landau wrote, urging organizations to “use and build weapons and support health policies” that will protect human rights, health, and security and promote justice.
This conversation has been modified and edited to make it clearer.
What have we learned since the covid programs were released, especially how to use them differently or better?
The specialists who used the software were very careful in making sure they talked to medical professionals. What they probably didn’t think was enough was: These programs have changed the way they are informed by covid information. Changes the delivery of [public health] work. It’s a conversation that has never happened.
For example, if I received a license last year, I could call my doctor, who would say, “I want you to get a blood test.” I was probably by myself in my room, and my husband brought me food. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the market. But other than that, it wouldn’t change much for me. I will not drive. I am not a food helper. For those people, receiving information is very different. You need to have social services to help them, which is good for public health.
In Switzerland, if you receive a notice, and if the government says, “Yes, you should stay home,” they will ask, “What is your job? Can you work from home?” It is to establish working methods to facilitate awareness.Most sites have not – in the US, for example.
Epidemiologists study how the disease spreads. Good health [experts] see how we care for people, and they have another role.
Are there other ways that these programs could have been designed differently? What would have made them so useful?
I think there is an argument about having 10% of these programs that collect space, to be used in clinics to understand the spread of the disease. When I spoke to epidemic experts back in May and June 2020, they said, “But if I don’t know where it’s spreading, I’m losing what I needed to know.” This is a matter for management by Google and Apple.
There is also the issue of how useful this is. This is linked to the financial situation. I live in a rural area, and the nearest house next to me is several hundred. I can’t get a Bluetooth signature from someone else’s phone that brings the notification. If my bedroom is adjacent to a nearby bedroom, I can receive more notifications if a homeowner is sick – the sign can pass through tree walls.
Why did privacy become so important to those who created affiliate programs?
Where you have been exposed because it shows things like the ones you had sex with, or if you stopped giving birth when you finished work. It shows if you go to church on Thursday at 7 o’clock but you don’t go to church any more, and it turns out that Alcoholics Anonymous meets in church at that time. For human rights activists and journalists, it is clear that following those who have been there is dangerous, as it reveals where they came from. But even for all of us, the people you interact with – the closeness of the people – is a very secretive thing.
“The operator is not an engineer… and your uncle. It’s your sister. And you want to have people who understand how people use things. ”
Some countries use a program that includes location tracking — for example, Singapore.
Singapore said, “We do not use your data for any other purpose.” Then he changed it, and they use it to defend the law. And the program, which began in earnest, now needs to be rolled out to offices, schools, and more. There is no choice but to let the government know who you are talking to.
I would like to know your thoughts on the key elements of creating a professional team in crisis.
I work in security, and the field took us a long time to understand that in the end there is a user, and the user is not an engineer who lives in Sun Microsystems or Google on the security team. It’s your uncle. It’s your sister. And you want to be with people who understand how people use things. But that’s not something engineers are taught to do – it’s something that health professionals or development scientists do, and those people should be a key part of the response.