No. 246: Monday Reads

W.E.B. DuBois

COVID-19 in Africa: Outcomes and Scenarios – Ronak Gopaldas of Signal Risk put together a nice analysis of the potential economic impact of COVID-19 on African markets. The central conclusion is that the path out of this situation is going to take years, something that is true for countries around the world. It’s frustrating to have this be the reality for African countries trying to navigate the path to sustainable economic growth and better lives for the people. Here’s to African countries figuring out that path and marching forward aggressively. Gradatim ferociter.

COVID and forced experiments – This is a good reminder from Benedict Evans that while most of the world is online, a significant number of people are not. eCommerce isn’t the answer for everyone. Telehealth doesn’t work if the patient pretty much has dial-up speeds at home. So, how do you move forward in pushing new technologies while ensuring everyone gets the services they need?

This is where the trope of “let the market handle that” sounds ridiculous. A number of companies will say that ensuring a potential customer in the middle of nowhere gets access to a product or service isn’t profitable enough to make the effort. From experience, I’ve seen them also complain about government trying to step in to fill those gaps. I’d love to see more situations where the private and public sector team up on this sort of thing more, but we’re not there yet.

What is the problem of racism has no solution? – I look forward to reading Afropessimism by Frank Wilderson. I struggle with the world view of folks like Ta-Nehisi Coates who don’t see a world in which black folks get a W. I think the world has been around for too long and civilizations have changed place for top dog position too many times for this to be true.

At the same time, my own pessimism comes out in my belief that centuries from now, if black people (If that’s even a thing at that point in time) have the capacity to be just as cruel as white folks have been in the time they’ve been dominant globally. Hopefully, folks like my cousin Kobe speak enough truth and beauty to keep us from acting on that capacity.

Our World in Flow Change – David Galbraith lays out the design of systems and what needs to happen to ensure whatever new system we have coming out of COVID-19 is a balanced one.

XTREME: A Massively Multilingual Multi-task Benchmark for Evaluating Cross-lingual Generalization – Google is working on expanding the number of languages for which natural language processing works well. Natural language processing is basically what’s happening when you are talking to Siri or your Google Assistant. Currently, English is the main language this works in bit that will change as Google makes more progress on this project. I’m getting a kick out of my Nigerian friends insulting their Google Home device in Yoruba and it giving them pepper back.

2 thoughts on “No. 246: Monday Reads

  1. I am definitely an optimist, however, I do often wonder if/when racism will end. Many of my peers believe it will exist indefinitely. However, I do believe that racism will not end until Black ppl unite. If we treat our own horribly, why should anyone else treat us differently? WE have to be the solution to the problem.

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