4 lessons the US learned from the COVID-19 pandemic

The long-term lessons America learns from the coronavirus pandemic will spell life or death.

  • As the US commences its early stages of COVID-19 vaccinations, Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, argues that now is not the time to relax. "There are lessons to be learned by systems like ours based upon our experience," says Dowling, adding that "we know what these lessons are, and we're working on them."
  • The four major takeaways that Dowling has identified are that the United States was unprepared and slow to react, that we need a domestic supply chain so that we aren't relying on other countries, that there needs to be more domestic and international cooperation, and that leadership roles in public health must be filled by public health experts.
  • If and when another pandemic hits (in the hopefully distant future), the country—and by extension the world—will be in a much better place to deal with it.
Learn more about Northwell's pandemic response here.
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How will we govern super-powerful AI?

The AI constitution can mean the difference between war and peace—or total extinction.

  • The question of conscious artificial intelligence dominating future humanity is not the most pressing issue we face today, says Allan Dafoe of the Center for the Governance of AI at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. Dafoe argues that AI's power to generate wealth should make good governance our primary concern.
  • With thoughtful systems and policies in place, humanity can unlock the full potential of AI with minimal negative consequences. Drafting an AI constitution will also provide the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of past structures to avoid future conflicts.
  • Building a framework for governance will require us to get past sectarian differences and interests so that society as a whole can benefit from AI in ways that do the most good and the least harm.
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The social determinants of health, explained

Want to tell someone's future in the US? You don't need a crystal ball, just their zip code.

  • Social determinants of health, such as income and access to healthy food, affect well-being long before people may enter medical facilities.
  • They're one reason neighborhoods in the same city can maintain life expectancy gaps larger than a decade.
  • With growing awareness of how societal ills determine health, medical professionals and their partners are devising more holistic approaches to health.
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The neoliberal era is ending. What comes next?

The next era in American history can look entirely different. It's up to us to choose.

  • The timeline of America post-WWII can be divided into two eras, according to author and law professor Ganesh Sitaraman: the liberal era which ran through the 1970s, and the current neoliberal era which began in the early 1980s. The latter promised a "more free society," but what we got instead was more inequality, less opportunity, and greater market consolidation.
  • "We've lived through a neoliberal era for the last 40 years, and that era is coming to an end," Sitaraman says, adding that the ideas and policies that defined the period are being challenged on various levels.
  • What comes next depends on if we take a proactive and democratic approach to shaping the economy, or if we simply react to and "deal with" market outcomes.

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Oregon decriminalizes drugs: Here are 3 metrics other states will track

It's "the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date," said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Credit: pxfuel.com
  • Oregon voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
  • The state also legalized the therapeutic use and sale of psilocybin mushrooms.
  • As the laws go into effect, other U.S. states will be watching to see how the experiment plays out, influencing future votes across the country.
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