The current Coronavirus crisis will remain in our collective memory not only like the biggest social engineering in recent times, but also like the most interventionist approach towards a crisis in history. By “interventionist” I mean a central intervention, from the top to the bottom. In other words, the state intervening abruptly, altering the life of its citizens and toxically disrupting the most basic processes of its own structure.
While the initial aim of such an intervention is noble – limiting the spread of a novel, yet unknown epidemic, and saving lives – the secondary effects can be more dangerous than the illness itself. It’s not only the huge economic costs, but also the psychological burden created by isolation or loss of work.
In this blog post I’m proposing a different approach, one inspired by an alternative positioning towards the epidemic itself.
The Coronavirus Is Actually A DDoS Attack On Health Care Systems
From a societal point of view, Covid-19 is basically a DDoS attack. If you’re not very geeky, DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. It’s a common form of attack on the internet, in which the aim is to stop completely a server by overloading it with requests. That’s the “denial of service” part. The “distributed” part stands for the fact that, in order for this attack to be efficient, the source of requests must be, obviously, distributed, and, if possible, random. Otherwise, if there will be only one source of attacks, these could be easily stopped by filtering the IP of the attacker.
Covid-19 – and every virus that affects humans, for what matters – is very similar. The target of the attack is the centralized health care system, which is overloaded with requests (ill people). The source of the attack is also distributed (there isn’t a single point from where the attack originates) and more or less random (once started, the virus can spread exponentially, in various directions / populations).
One way to mitigate such an attack is to route requests to other servers – or more hospitals, in the case of the epidemic. It’s still a centralized response, which has to be managed from the same actor who own and maintains the server(s) – or health care system(s). That’s one part of the standard centralized response of the governments “fighting the virus”: they build more hospitals and try to increase the capacity of the health care system, by adding more instances (just like you’d spin more Amazon elastic server instances).
In this process, though, the governments are also shutting down the entire traffic, eventually rendering the server useless. Lives are saved, the spread is slowed down, but at the cost of the entire hive being stopped.
A De-Centralized Approach – Pandemic Proximity Civil Duty
During the cold war, military service was compulsory. It was a civil duty. Because of a very specific threat, there was this type of service that everybody has to know how to perform, in order to respond with effectiveness when a real war was happening.
Military service is not the only compulsory civil duty. In US, for instance, there is jury duty. People agree to act as jurors (if they are randomly chosen) in order to maintain a certain degree of justice credibility.
So, what if we would have a compulsory civil duty called Pandemic Proximity Civil Duty?
Let me explain.
The PPCD (will use the short form from now on) will be a specific training, that the vast majority of adults will have to go through. This training will ensure that:
- people will learn how to care for people in risk groups (“shielding” them from the virus spread),
- people will learn how to communicate with other people about the basic processes needed for shielding
- people will be assigned to certain areas, based on where they live / work
This training will be, as I said, compulsory, for the majority of people, based on their age, health and location.
In the even of a pandemic, the PPCD duty will be activated upon certain triggers and the “recruits” will start shielding the people they’ve been assigned to. Based on the specifics of the epidemis, a PPCD recruit may shield from 1 up to 10 person at a time.
This “shielding” will have to be adjusted to the specificity of the epidemic, but it will mainly consist in socially distancing risk groups, without putting too much pressure on the normal processes of the community. Other activities might be: testing for infection / antibodies, overseeing hygiene, procuring food and maintaining social contact.
One important note about the structure of this “human shield” structure. In my opinion, this shouldn’t be centralized, in the sense armies are centralized and it shouldn’t function on a vertical hierarchy. Instead, it should be mapped on a blockchain-like structure, in which every “shield” will have some way to report his activities and data will be automatically extracted, allowing for real time risk assessment.
PPCD is not something that is tied to a certain state, not even to a certain culture, it’s about basic human rights, namely the right to live.
How Will This Help?
Simply put, this approach will weaken the DDoS before becoming “denial” and before becoming “distributed”.
It ill definitely weaken the role of a centralized state too (which, as the “owner and manager” of the health care system, will still play an important role) and it will allow the continuation of activities with minimum disruption.