#covid19 news, research, vaccines, drugs

Monday, 2 March, 2020

Here are some #covid19 news, interesting research, vaccine, drug info. I’ll try to add to this post periodically if I can. (Last update: 20200310, Created: 20200302)

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20200310 (Tweet thread with paper link) Insightful & important #covid19 paper from Harvard

//Conclusion: Even after the lockdown of Wuhan on January 23, the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients continued to rise, exceeding local hospitalization and ICU capacities for at least a month. Plans are urgently needed to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 outbreaks on the local healthcare system in US cities.//
//The demand for inpatient and ICU beds for COVID-19 in the US: lessons from Chinese cities// Many thanks to //Ruoran Li *1; [@ruoranepi] Caitlin Rivers 2; Qi Tan 3,4; Megan B Murray 3; Eric Toner 2; Marc Lipsitch 1 [@mlipsitch]//

20200309 NYT Opinion – This Is Life Under Lockdown in Italy – Your tickets for concerts and soccer games are useless. Your children can’t go to school. Even Mass is canceled.

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20200309, WHO “Coronavirus outbreak: WHO calls threat of COVID-19 pandemic “very real” | FULL”

20200309, Coronavirus outbreak: B.C. officials announce Canada’s first COVID-19 death

20200309, Coronavirus outbreak: 7 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta | FULL

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20200306, “Live from WHO HQ – Daily Press Briefing on COVID-19 –Coronavirus 6MARCH2020”

20200306, CNN podcast, “Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction”

20200304 NPR, “How Computer Modeling Of COVID-19’s Spread Could Help Fight The Virus” (~4 minutes)

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20200305, Live from WHO HQ – Daily Press Briefing on COVID-19 –Coronavirus 05MARCH2020

20200302, CNBC, How this Canadian start-up spotted coronavirus before everyone else knew about it

Ref: 20200304, U of T’s Kamran Khan on how his startup used AI to spot the coronavirus before anyone else: CNBC

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20200304, NPR, (~4 mins) “How Computer Modeling Of COVID-19’s Spread Could Help Fight The Virus”

20200304 CBC News, “Trudeau appoints new cabinet committee for COVID-19 response and warns of economic impact”

The committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, will complement the work done by the Incident Response Group, meeting regularly to co-ordinate and prepare for a response to the health and economic impacts of the virus.

‘All possible measures’ to limit COVID-19 impact

Trudeau said the committee will work with provincial, territorial and international partners to make sure Canada’s response “takes all possible measures to prevent and limit the spread of the virus in Canada.”

Other ministers on the eight-member committee include Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Kirsty Duncan, deputy government House leader and scientist who wrote a book [BMJ book review of “Hunting the 1918 Flu: OneScientist’s Search for a Killer Virus” by Kirsty Duncan] on the origins of the 1918 Spanish flu, will also be a core participant of the meetings.

20200304 NYT “Inside China’s All-Out War on the Coronavirus Dr. Bruce Aylward, of the W.H.O., got a rare glimpse into Beijing’s campaign to stop the epidemic. Here’s what he saw.” #covid19 #TheydWhipYouThroughaCTScan #WayneGretzkyOfViruses
Good questions and insightful/nuanced answers. Don’t be dogmatic and blindly mistrust WHO. *Blindly* anything is bad science. #TeachableMoments

//Dr. Aylward, who has 30 years experience in fighting polio, Ebola and other global health emergencies, detailed in an interview with The New York Times how he thinks the campaign against the virus should be run.//
//[Q] Are the cases in China really going down?

[A] I know there’s suspicion, but at every testing clinic we went to, people would say, “It’s not like it was three weeks ago.” It peaked at 46,000 people asking for tests a day; when we left, it was 13,000. Hospitals had empty beds.

I didn’t see anything that suggested manipulation of numbers. A rapidly escalating outbreak has plateaued, and come down faster than would have been expected. Back of the envelope, it’s hundreds of thousands of people in China that did not get Covid-19 because of this aggressive response.

[Q] Is the virus infecting almost everyone, as you would expect a novel flu to?

[A] No — 75 to 80 percent of all clusters are in families. You get the odd ones in hospitals or restaurants or prisons, but the vast majority are in families. And only 5 to 15 percent of your close contacts develop disease. So they try to isolate you from your relatives as quickly as possible, and find everyone you had contact with in 48 hours before that.

[Q] You said different cities responded differently. How?

[A] It depended on whether they had zero cases, sporadic ones, clusters or widespread transmission.

First, you have to make sure everyone knows the basics: hand-washing, masks, not shaking hands, what the symptoms are. Then, to find sporadic cases, they do fever checks everywhere, even stopping cars on highways to check everyone.

As soon as you find clusters, you shut schools, theaters, restaurants. Only Wuhan and the cities near it went into total lockdown.

[Q] How did the Chinese reorganize their medical response?

[A] First, they moved 50 percent of all medical care online so people didn’t come in. Have you ever tried to reach your doctor on Friday night? Instead, you contacted one online. If you needed prescriptions like insulin or heart medications, they could prescribe and deliver it.

[Q] But if you thought you had coronavirus?

[A] You would be sent to a fever clinic. They would take your temperature, your symptoms, medical history, ask where you’d traveled, your contact with anyone infected. They’d whip you through a CT scan …

[Q] Wait — “whip you through a CT scan”?

[A} Each machine did maybe 200 a day. Five, 10 minutes a scan. Maybe even partial scans. A typical hospital in the West does one or two an hour. And not X-rays; they could come up normal, but a CT would show the “ground-glass opacities” they were looking for.

(Dr. Aylward was referring to lung abnormalities seen in coronavirus patients.)

[Q] And then?

[A] If you were still a suspect case, you’d get swabbed. But a lot would be told, “You’re not Covid.” People would come in with colds, flu, runny noses. That’s not Covid. If you look at the symptoms, 90 percent have fever, 70 percent have dry coughs, 30 percent have malaise, trouble breathing. Runny noses were only 4 percent.

[Q] The swab was for a PCR test, right? How fast could they do that? Until recently, we were sending all of ours to Atlanta.

[A] They got it down to four hours.

[Q] So people weren’t sent home?

[A] No, they had to wait. You don’t want someone wandering around spreading virus.

[Q] If they were positive, what happened?

[A] They’d be isolated. In Wuhan, in the beginning, it was 15 days from getting sick to hospitalization. They got it down to two days from symptoms to isolation. That meant a lot fewer infected — you choke off this thing’s ability to find susceptibles.

[Q] What’s the difference between isolation and hospitalization?

[A] With mild symptoms, you go to an isolation center. They were set up in gymnasiums, stadiums — up to 1,000 beds. But if you were severe or critical, you’d go straight to hospitals. Anyone with other illnesses or over age 65 would also go straight to hospitals.

[Q] What were mild, severe and critical? We think of “mild” as like a minor cold.

[A] No. “Mild” was a positive test, fever, cough — maybe even pneumonia, but not needing oxygen. “Severe” was breathing rate up and oxygen saturation down, so needing oxygen or a ventilator. “Critical” was respiratory failure or multi-organ failure.

[Q] So saying 80 percent of all cases are mild doesn’t mean what we thought.

[A] I’m Canadian. This is the Wayne Gretzky of viruses — people didn’t think it was big enough or fast enough to have the impact it does.

[Q] Hospitals were also separated?

[A] Yes. The best hospitals were designated just for Covid, severe and critical. All elective surgeries were postponed. Patients were moved. Other hospitals were designated just for routine care: women still have to give birth, people still suffer trauma and heart attacks.

They built two new hospitals, and they rebuilt hospitals. If you had a long ward, they’d build a wall at the end with a window, so it was an isolation ward with “dirty” and “clean” zones. You’d go in, gown up, treat patients, and then go out the other way and de-gown. It was like an Ebola treatment unit, but without as much disinfection because it’s not body fluids.

[Q] How good were the severe and critical care?

[A] China is really good at keeping people alive. Its hospitals looked better than some I see here in Switzerland. We’d ask, “How many ventilators do you have?” They’d say “50.” Wow! We’d say, “How many ECMOs?” They’d say “five.” The team member from the Robert Koch Institute said, “Five? In Germany, you get three, maybe. And just in Berlin.”

(ECMOs are extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines, which oxygenate the blood when the lungs fail.)

[Q] Who paid for all of this?

[A] The government made it clear: testing is free. And if it was Covid-19, when your insurance ended, the state picked up everything.

In the U.S., that’s a barrier to speed. People think: “If I see my doctor, it’s going to cost me $100. If I end up in the I.C.U., what’s it going to cost me?” That’ll kill you. That’s what could wreak havoc. This is where universal health care coverage and security intersect. The U.S. has to think this through.

[Q] What about the nonmedical response?

[A] It was nationwide. There was this tremendous sense of, “We’ve got to help Wuhan,” not “Wuhan got us into this.” Other provinces sent 40,000 medical workers, many of whom volunteered.

In Wuhan, our special train pulled in at night, and it was the saddest thing — the big intercity trains roar right through, with the blinds down.

We got off, and another group did. I said, “Hang on a minute, I thought we were the only ones allowed to get off.” They had these little jackets and a flag — it was a medical team from Guangdong coming in to help. […]

[Q] Isn’t all of this impossible in America?

[A] Look, journalists are always saying: “Well, we can’t do this in our country.” There has to be a shift in mind-set to rapid response thinking. Are you just going to throw up your hands? There’s a real moral hazard in that, a judgment call on what you think of your vulnerable populations.

Ask yourself: Can you do the easy stuff? Can you isolate 100 patients? Can you trace 1,000 contacts? If you don’t, this will roar through a community.

[Q] Isn’t it possible only because China is an autocracy?

[A] Journalists also say, “Well, they’re only acting out of fear of the government,” as if it’s some evil fire-breathing regime that eats babies. I talked to lots of people outside the system — in hotels, on trains, in the streets at night.

They’re mobilized, like in a war, and it’s fear of the virus that was driving them. They really saw themselves as on the front lines of protecting the rest of China. And the world.

[Q] China is restarting its economy now. How can it do that without creating a new wave of infections?

[A] It’s a “phased restart.” It means different things in different provinces.

Some are keeping schools closed longer. Some are only letting factories that make things crucial to the supply chain open. For migrant workers who went home — well, Chengdu has 5 million migrant workers.

First, you have to see a doctor and get a certificate that you’re “no risk.” It’s good for three days.

Then you take the train to where you work. If it’s Beijing, you then have to self-quarantine for two weeks. Your temperature is monitored, sometimes by phone, sometimes by physical check.

[Q] What’s going on with the treatment clinical trials?

[A] They’re double-blind trials, so I don’t know the results. We should know more in a couple of weeks.

The biggest challenge was enrolling people. The number of severe patients is dropping, and there’s competition for them. And every ward is run by a team from another province, so you have to negotiate with each one, make sure they’re doing the protocols right.

And there are 200 trials registered — too many. I told them: “You’ve got to prioritize things that have promising antiviral properties.”//

20200301 CBC Radio, Cross Country Checkup – ASK ME ANYTHING 5 lessons about COVID-19 from doctor who led WHO mission to China – Bruce Aylward took questions from callers on Cross Country Checkup

20200304 CNN, “Canceling SXSW festival won’t make the community safer, Austin health officials say” [Note: Time will tell if this decision is wise or not. I worry not. They may change this decision later too. Will see.]

20200303 Science Mag “Indonesia finally reports two coronavirus cases. Scientists worry it has many more

But epidemiologists have long said COVID-19’s absence in the world’s fourth most populous nation was implausible, given the large number of visitors—both for tourism and business—from nearby China. A modeling study based on the number of travelers from Wuhan, published by a team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on bioRxiv on 11 February, concluded that even then, it was unlikely that Indonesia did not have a single COVID-19 case. (Indonesian Minister of Health Terawan Agus Putranto called the study insulting and later said the lack of cases was the result of prayer.)

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20200302 (hope we don’t need this but SK is cool in this efficient way to do test and get sample) //South Korea is pioneering a coronavirus drive-through testing station that officials say is faster and safer than going to a hospital or clinic// [HT @klustout]

20200303 WHO, “Coronavirus outbreak: World Health Organization says virus death toll has surpassed 3,100 worldwide”

20200303 Vox, “China’s cases of Covid-19 are finally declining. A WHO expert explains why. “It’s all about speed”: the most important lessons from China’s Covid-19 response.” [HT Kai “Also highly recommend reading this great interview by @juliaoftoronto with mission head Bruce Aylward:”]

“Q: Julia Belluz
In the elderly, what explains the high death rate? Is it something about deterioration of the immune system with age or the higher probability you have [of developing] other illnesses as you age?

A: Bruce Aylward
I think it’s the latter. These people are dying of an inflammatory process in their lungs. It’s not an infectious process, like a bacterial or viral infection. It’s inflammatory, like we see with SARS. We’re not sure of the mechanism. We do know the proportion of people who die who had cancer was half compared to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes is a little bit lower than those two, and cancer lower again.”

Read the rest of this entry »


News Clippings 20200121

Tuesday, 21 January, 2020

Some News Clippings on 20200121:

20200121, Guardian, Coronavirus: Chinese hospitals not testing patients, say relatives – Number of cases, and deaths, could be much higher than those cited in official reports if claims are true

//On 12 January Huang got news his healthy 65-year-old mother had been checked into a hospital in the central Chinese city of Wuhan with a fever and a cough. […]

The hospital pressured the family to immediately cremate Huang’s mother, but they refused, asking for more information. A few days later, they relented and workers from a funeral home, also in protective clothing, retrieved, cremated and buried her within a few hours, leaving the family no time to say goodbye. Afterwards, the staff disinfected the van they had travelled in and threw away their hamzat suits.

“My mother’s death was dealt with without any dignity,” said Huang, 40, who did not want to give his or his mother’s full name. “She wasn’t even counted as a number on the government’s list,” he said, referring to the six people authorities say have been killed by the virus.//

20200121, BBC News, (with vide of HKU Med), New China virus: Warning against cover-up as number of cases jumps

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News Clippings 20200120

Monday, 20 January, 2020

I’ll try to add to my collection of News Clippings regularly if I can. Here are a few added on 20200120:

20200120 Guardian, (part 1 of 2) #HumanToHumanTransmission Very sad to learn [14] medical staff had been infected! “China confirms human-to-human transmission of coronavirus

//China’s National Health Commission has confirmed human-to-human transmission of a mysterious Sars-like virus that has spread across the country and fuelled anxiety about the prospect of a major outbreak as millions begin travelling for lunar new year celebrations.

Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert and head of the health commission team investigating the outbreak, confirmed that two cases of infection in China’s Guangdong province had been caused by human-to-human transmission and medical staff had been infected, China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Monday.//

20200120 China CCTV, “新型冠状病毒如何防控?会否重复SARS疫情?钟南山:呈现人传人特点

(part 2 of 2) #HumanToHumanTransmission Very sad to learn 14 medical staff had been infected! Via Chinese source: //Pulmonologist ZHONG Nanshan, leads an expert group to investigate the #WuhanPneumonia, said human-to-human transmission is confirmed. Also 14 medics have been infected by the novel coronavirus, reports state media CCTV.//

//疫情发展到什么阶段?
钟南山 [国家卫健委高级别专家组组长钟南山院士]:呈现人传人特点 有14个医护人员感染 […]

武汉减少输出是非常重要的一个方面,武汉会有很严格的筛查检测措施,特别是体温检测,体温高的不建议离开武汉。预防和控制最有效的方法是早发现早治疗,确诊病例的隔离治疗非常重要,这个冠状病毒没有特效药,但是现在正在进行一些动物试验观察,科学研究要跟上。春节期间,估计得病的人数还会有增加,要防止传播,防止出现超级传播者。//

[HT @chiangst]

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China’s War on the Internet

Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Author James Griffiths @jgriffiths gave an insightful talk “China’s War on the Internet: How the West Lost the Web” at Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong @fcchk talking about his new book, The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet. Have a watch.

“China’s War on the Internet: How the West Lost the Web”

 


Sad 2018 #HumanRightsDay #MichealKovrig #MichaelSpavor #MengWanzhou #Huawei

Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Dec 23, 2018 update: Global TV News, (with video) “Canada’s ambassadors urging allies to push for release of Canadians detained in China: Freeland

Dec 21, 2018 Global Affairs Canada Official statement: “Canada deeply concerned by arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China

Dec 21, 2018 update: CBC News, “U.S. , UK, EU] joins Freeland in condemning ‘arbitrary detention’ of Canadians and calls for ‘immediate release’

UK Gardian, “Canada demands China immediately release citizens detained in ‘retaliation’ arrests – US, UK and EU express support, after two Canadians held in seeming retaliation for arrest of Huawei executive

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I’m sorry to say 2018 #HumanRightsDay (Dec 10th) was a sad day when former Canadian diplomat Micheal Kovrig (update: and Mr. Michael Spavor) were detained in China with no reason given. (China taking Mr. Kovrig as “hostage” over the arrest of Huawei CFO Ms. Meng Wanzhou?!) Where is due process? Where is rule of law? I understand he served as political lead on Prime Minster Trudeau’s visit to Hong Kong in September 2016, so on a personal note, I feel sorry for Consul General Mr. Jeff Nankivell and others in HK that Mr. Kovrig might have worked with in preparation of that 2016 visit.

How “lucky” Canadians must be to be stuck between two superpowers fighting a trade war? One superpower has a president that locks up human rights lawyers (including blind human rights lawyer) and makes dissidents “disappear”. The other superpower has a president who clearly sees himself above the law and has no idea of what “judicial independence” means. Even his former secretary of state recently said in public, “the president would say here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it and I would have to say to him, Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law.”

If there is #TeachableMoment in all this mess, it is that one must try to respect the rule of law, due process, and judicial independence. Even now it seems we really got used by both sides to fight their beeping trade war!
P.S. Incidentally, Trump/US government has imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum using Section 232 of U.S. trade law claiming our steel and aluminum are “threats to American national security”.

P.P.S. Former Canadian Amb. to China Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques has this to say:

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This sentence (from a CBC News report) kinda highlights the difference between Huawei CFO Ms. Meng Wanzhou’s case and the trumped up detention of Mr. Michael Kovrig (currently on an unpaid leave of absence from the Canadian embassy): “China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday denied knowledge of the detention of a former Canadian diplomat, as Chinese citizens rejoiced over a Canadian court’s decision to release a top Huawei Technologies executive on bail.Read the rest of this entry »


Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau, Please help free #LiuXiaobo’s wife #LiuXia

Sunday, 16 July, 2017

2017 My two questions to the PM.png

So far Canada has very muted responses to Liu Xiaobo‘s death (on Thursday July 13, 2017) and his wife Liu Xia‘s continual house arrest. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted she is “terribly sad” and issued a strongly worded written statement including the words but, as far as I know, nothing was said in-person on camera by neither Minister Freeland nor Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself. Here is an excerpt from the written statement (download a PDF file with my highlights and notes),

In particular, my thoughts go to Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, herself a tremendous symbol of courage and poise, who remains under house arrest,” Freeland said. “We continue to call for the release of all political prisoners.

I have, so far, been unable to find any evidence of Canadian reporters asking Trudeau, on camera, about his view of Liu Xiaobo‘s death and his wife Liu Xia‘s continual house arrest. Since Mr. Trudeau was visiting Calgary yesterday for Stampede, I thought I would try my best to ask him a question myself. I thought, on the day of Liu Xiaobo‘s funeral (yesterday, Saturday, July 15), it was the least I could do to pay my deepest respect to Xiaobo and did my small part to try to shine a light on Xia‘s continual house arrest and get the PM to do more help free her.

Here is a video of my attempts in asking Trudeau. I have included some additional footage so you can see my questions in context of the crowd.

I asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau my first question as an independent reporter. For my second try, I took off my reporter hat and paid my respect to Liu Xiaobo by making a request to my Prime Minister as a Canadian citizen with Hong Kong heritage. On the sady day of Liu Xiaobo‘s funeral, when I’ve read reports of Chinese government sending secret police to pretend to be his best friends (many were too young to be his “best friends”) at the funeral, reports of his wife forced to burn his body to ashes and spread the ashes into the sea so no one can pay his grave site proper respect, I thought the least I could do to pay my respect to Xiaobo and did my small part was to try to shine a light on freeing Xia from her continual house arrest.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Please help free #LiuXiaobo’s wife #LiuXia!

20170716 Funeral news pix 03 - closeup

Photos credit: HK01 July 15th report, “劉曉波告別式:國保疑混入充數 被監控好友證無一「好友」出席”

20170716 Funeral news pix 04 - spreading ashes at sea

Photo of Liu Xiaobo’s ashes being spread at sea. Photo credit: Tweet of 吾尔开希 Wu’er Kaixi. Here is a Medium article “Murdered but Undefeated” by Wu’er Kaixi that I hope to read soon.

P.S. As reported by Radio Canada International (RCI), Governor General David Johnston was “on a state visit to China from July 10 to 14, accompanied by a large delegation of Canadian politicians and business leaders“.

Further quoting the RCI report, [emphasis added]

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Johnston in Beijing on Thursday, urging both countries to expand cooperation in such areas as trade, law enforcement, technology and culture, and launch negotiations on a free trade agreement at an early date, reported the official Chinese Xinhua agency, which had no mention of Liu’s passing.

Given the Chinese government’s self-proclaimed meaningless “rule-of-law” which lead to the shameful premature death of Mr. Liu Xiaobo and continual house arrest of Liu Xia, any discussion of cooperation in law enforcement is absolutely premature. How can we be sure any cooperation in law enforcement is absolutely Charter of Rights and Freedoms compliant under the current Chinese judicial regime?

July 16, 2017 update: Foreign Affairs Minister @cafreeland tweeted, “Canada continues to call on the Chinese govt to release #LiuXia and offer her safe passage out of China, according to her wishes. #LiuXiaobo” at 5:26 PM – 16 Jul 2017 from London, England

(audio) BBC World Service Newshour, “Ai Weiwei says Western countries failed Liu Xiaobo

Guardian, July 15, “Liu Xiaobo: dissident’s friends angry after hastily arranged sea burial

NYT, July 15, “Liu Xiaobo, Chinese Dissident and Nobel Laureate, Is Cremated

China cremated its only Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, on Saturday, but watchful officials allowed only his widow and a few other mourners to bid farewell to the man who was also the country’s most famous political prisoner.

Later in the day, Mr. Liu’s ashes were lowered into the sea in a simple ceremony, ensuring that there would be no grave on land to serve as a magnet for protests against the Communist Party, especially on the traditional tomb-sweeping day every April.

Maclean’s, July 14, “Ottawa’s despicable display in China – Terry Glavin on the death of Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and Canada’s efforts to wine and dine the prisoner’s tormentors

It would be hard to imagine a more obscene display of Canada’s slavish relationship with China’s depraved Communist Party regime: The very moment imprisoned democracy activist and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo died under heavy guard on a hospital bed in the northeast city of Shenyang on Thursday, a beaming Governor General David Johnston was posing for photographs at the opulent Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, shaking hands with Chinese tyrant Xi Jinping, Liu’s jailer, and tormentor.

It was all so very chummy. […]

Liu’s death marks the first time a Nobel peace prize winner has died behind bars since the pacifist Carl von Ossietzky died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1938.

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The Future of Go Summit: Ke Jie & AlphaGo

Tuesday, 23 May, 2017

Master” is the new version of “AlphaGo” which Demis Hassabis stated, in the post game press conference with 9 dan Go player Ke Jie (柯潔), the details will be published for others to study similar to AlphaGo’s Nature article.

Wired, “An Improved AlphaGo Wins Its First Game Against the World’s Top Go Player

Last year, in South Korea, AlphaGo topped the Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol, becoming the first machine to beat a professional Go player—a feat that most AI researchers believed was still years away, given the extreme complexityof the ancient Eastern game. Now, AlphaGo is challenging Ke Jie, the current world number one.

According to Demis Hassabis, the CEO and founder of DeepMind, this time out the machine is driven by a new and more powerful architecture. It can now learn the game almost entirely from play against itself, relying less on data generated by humans. In theory, this means DeepMind’s technology can more easily learn any task.

MIT Technology review, “Intelligent Machines A Stronger AlphaGo Defeats the World’s Number One Player

The Future of Go Summit, Match One: Ke Jie & AlphaGo

May 26, 2017 Update:

Wired, “Google’s AlphaGo Trounces Humans—But It Also Gives Them a Boost

Much of that future has yet to play out. And there is no guarantee that AI improves humanity. “In some cases,” grandmaster Gu Li said after a pair game alongside AlphaGo, “I could not follow in his footsteps.” But certainly, DeepMind has effected real change in the world of Go, a game that’s enormously popular across China, Korea, and other parts of Asia, and that is a comforting thing. In at least one way, AI has helped make humans better.

After losing matches to AlphaGo, European champion Fan Hui and Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol said the machine opened their eyes to new possibilities. This raised awareness was on wide display this week in China, when Ke Jie opened the first game with a strategy straight from the AlphaGo playbook.

Ke Jie went on to lose that game and then the next. And some observers continued to lament that machines were eclipsing humans. But that’s not the story of AlphaGo’s trip to China. What’s most striking is how closely the players have studied the games played by AlphaGo—and how hungry they are for more. Many have repeatedly called on DeepMind to release the many games that AlphaGo has played in private. They know they can’t beat the machine. But like Thore Graepel, they believe it can make them better.

The Future of Go Summit, Match Two: Ke Jie & AlphaGo Read the rest of this entry »


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