L’impatto di COVID19 sulla mortalità

Ormai abbiamo capito che i dati sui contagi, sui ricoveri in terapia intensiva e sui morti per coronavirus in diverse nazioni non sono comparabili, per la differenza delle politiche sanitarie e dei criteri di calcolo.

Allora può essere utile guardare la variazione della mortalità complessiva in ogni paese europeo fino alla settimana scorsa. I grafici nel seguito mostrano la deviazione dalla media della mortalità settimanale normalizzata sulla deviazione standard, che viene monitorata in ogni paese europeo e fornita da euromomo https://www.euromomo.eu/outputs/zscore_country_total.html)

L’effetto è stato più pronunciato rispetto alle influenze degli inverni 2016-2017 e 2017-2018, ma fortunatamente il lockdown ha funzionato ovunque e l’impatto sulla mortalità nazionale è stato limitato.

Anche i dati di mortalità complessiva confermano che l’effetto è stato più forte in Belgio, Francia, Italia, Olanda, Spagna, Inghilterra, come ci dicono i media. Impatto medio in Svezia e Svizzera. Trascurabile in tutti gli altri stati europei.

Non solo Germania e Austria hanno gestito bene (dubbi sul conteggio diverso dei morti non sono rilevanti), ma anche Grecia e Portogallo, con sistemi sanitari confrontabili al nostro meridione, hanno ottenuto ottimi risultati con un lockdown anticipato ma soft.

Education on a global scale

As usual, super-interesting set of data on Global Education in “Our World in Data”. A very interesting figure is shown below, from a UNICEF report on Education, on the direct cost of education directly paid by families. All other data can be found at the original link here.

Then, liquid cooling in data centers

With Google’s Tensor Processing Units (version 3). Full article

Ma il senso è un altro

Questa foto da qualche giorno gira sui social network. È Jeff Bezos alla sua scrivania, nel 1999. E il significato che viene dato nei commenti alla foto è: “anche se tutto sembra andare male, non devi arrenderti mai“. 19 anni dopo, Bezos è l’uomo più ricco del mondo.

Ma il senso della foto è diverso: “anche se sei sulla carta uno degli uomini più ricchi del mondo, rimani frugale e non smettere di pedalare“. Nel 1999 Amazon valeva già 30 miliardi di dollari, era quotata in borsa da più di due anni e Bezos possedeva circa un quarto delle azioni. Altro che non arrendersi mai, stava già vincendo tutto. La foto è tratta dal servizio che fece il programma CBS 60 minutes nel quartier generale di Amazon a Seattle. L’understatement è completamente intenzionale. Il servizio completo è qui sotto.

Perfect films

David Mamet’s in Bambi vs Godzilla on the perfect films:

They start with a simple premise and proceed logically, and inevitably, toward a conclusion both surprising and inevitable.

This is really universal: it works also for the perfect scientific papers and the perfect jokes.

A discussion on quantum mechanics that never stops

From Philip Ball’s piece on Quanta Magazine: Quantum Theory Rebuilt From Simple Physical Principles

The basic premise of the quantum reconstruction game is summed up by the joke about the driver who, lost in rural Ireland, asks a passer-by how to get to Dublin. “I wouldn’t start from here,” comes the reply.

Where, in quantum mechanics, is “here”? The theory arose out of attempts to understand how atoms and molecules interact with light and other radiation, phenomena that classical physics couldn’t explain. Quantum theory was empirically motivated, and its rules were simply ones that seemed to fit what was observed. It uses mathematical formulas that, while tried and trusted, were essentially pulled out of a hat by the pioneers of the theory in the early 20th century.

Quantum mechanics is at the basis of the operation of solid-state electronics and optoelectronics, and therefore enables the whole ICT and Internet world.

However, it is still introduced to students as a new science, a revolution with respect to “classical” science, and as something that is basically strange and unintuitive. This is because the historical view of the birth of quantum mechanics is still dominant, after all these years. So all new attempts at rebuilding the foundations of quantum physics are welcome (and I admit I still very much like David Bohm’s view).

State of tech companies in Europe

Again on the topic of too few new tech companies in Europe, and especially in Italy.
The Atomico report on the “State of European Tech 2017” shows a list of all tech companies, either private, public, or acquired funded since 2003 with a valuation higher than one billion dollars.

The total number is 41:
16 are private
16 are public
9 have been acquired.

The breakdown per country is familiar:
13 UK
7 Germany
6 Sweden
3 France
3 Russia
2 Finland
2 Denmark
2 Netherland
1 Ireland
1 Slovenia
1 Switzerland

Very few unicorns from Europe (and none from Italy) in 2018

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 14.31.59

A quick look at the private companies with a valuation in excess of 1 billion dollars backed by venture capital (the so-called “unicorns”) shows that very few come from Europe (and none from Italy). They are not yet real valuations, but they can be a good proxy in terms of continent or country share.

These data are taken from the dedicated page on the WSJ website, considering valuations in January 2018.

  • 103 companies from the US
  • 46 from Asia (which means mostly China, then India)
  • 15 from Europe
  • 6 from Other (Canada, Australia, Africa)

As a breakdown of the 15 companies from Europe we have:

  • 6 from the UK (Oxford Nanopore, Farfetch, TransferWise, Deliveroo, Shazam, Funding Circle)
  • 3 from Germany (Auto1Group, HelloFresh, CureVac)
  • 2 from Sweden (Spotify, Klarna)
  • 1 from The Netherlands (Adyen)
  • 1 from France (BlaBlaCar)
  • 1 from Luxembourg (Global Fashion Group)
  • 1 from Czech Republic (Avast Software)

Then only 1 from Israel (IronSource) as of today.

One can discuss the reasons for this distribution, but I do not have a simple answer and have to look at some more data.



Impact of automation on jobs, only one part of the equation.

This figure is self-explanatory and is taken from the December 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation. The main prediction is that between 20% and 27% of work activities (measured in units of time) will be displaced due to automation in 2030 in advanced economies. Countries with an aging population will be affected the most. This is only one part of the equation. The other (missing) part is the number of new jobs, in order to understand whether they will be able to offset the displaced jobs. Nobody knows the answer because it depends on the structure and the choices of institutions.

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 17.37.46

Four podcast links to start the new year

I love listening to podcasts while driving, running, or doing chores. Here I just want to share a few links to some recent episodes I really enjoyed.

  1. Season 2 of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History is fantastic. The Basement Tapes is one of my preferred episodes [link]. Deep, thoughtful, surprising, and perfectly done. At the level of some of the best stories in The Tipping Point [link]
  2. Episodes 14 and 15 of Reed Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast, with a long interview with Barry Diller [link].
  3. The Ezra Klein long interview with Paul Krugman on politics, Trump, incentives [link]
  4. Episode 131 of the Exponent Podcast [link] where Ben Thompson and James Allworth discuss disruption and the critical differences between today’s world and the scenario discussed in Clayton Christensen’s classic book The Innovator’s Dilemma [link]