We can do better than that



  • A worthwhile endeavor, to be sure:

    But this quote made me go, :wtf:

    “Our society spends 50x more treating people who are sick than on finding cures. We can do better than that,” he said.

    What is "better than that?" Suppose he succeeds. Then we'll be spending all our money on treating instead of finding cures! That's certainly a better situation, but I think he's trying to shame us all about how "little" we spend on research. As if you can just magically spend any amount of money and get more research. Or that the research will necessarily produce results.

    He should be ashamed for saying something like that, but I'm sure he'll be applauded instead.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    0_1474553854164_upload-021565e8-9f79-48bf-a181-5f67709c9d30


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Hubris for the Zuck incoming? We might hope so…



  • I liked the subhead from The Register:

    And yet WhatsApp cost $19bn?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Virtue signalling.


  • mod

    $3 billion... over the next 10 years. So only $300 million a year. The US federal government spends about $4.8 billion per year on cancer alone (source). That's an insulting drop in the bathtub of disease research.



  • @Yamikuronue but they aren't spending on the right research, most of it ends going to things that doesn't work


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @groo said in We can do better than that:

    most of it ends going to things that doesn't work

    If we would know beforehand whether it works or not, we wouldn't need research at all, so what's your point?



  • @asdf exactly, they should try to find out if something works before doing research


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @groo said in We can do better than that:

    exactly, they should try to find out if something works before doing research

    I haven't used this acronym in a long time, but it's appropriate here:

    TDEMSYR


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @groo if it works they wouldn't need to do research though. So we should just abolish research and spend the money on treatments that work


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @asdf said in We can do better than that:

    If we would know beforehand whether it works or not, we wouldn't need research at all, so what's your point?

    @asdf said in We can do better than that:

    I haven't used this acronym in a long time, but it's appropriate here:

    TDEMSYR

    :whoosh:



  • @Yamikuronue said in We can do better than that:

    $3 billion... over the next 10 years. So only $300 million a year. The US federal government spends about $4.8 billion per year on cancer alone (source). That's an insulting drop in the bathtub of disease research.

    It wouldn't surprise me terribly if Zuckerberg's piddly little $3e8 per year accomplishes more actual progress than the US federal government's $4.8e9. Consider: Zuckerberg financed and oversaw the building of a successful massive-scale website. The US federal government financed and oversaw the building of healthcare.gov.

    Also, it sounds like they're coming from the premise that "typical research is all about finding drugs and treatments that can make lots of money, not about finding good ways to actually cure people: sick people spend money on health care; well people do not". So comparing the money they're spending to the money spent on typical research on a dollar-for-dollar basis is really comparing apples to oranges. Unless you just think that in spite of their talk, they're not going to actually do anything any differently, in which case I guess you could make that argument.


  • mod

    @anotherusername Facebook also invented React, didn't they? And what does Zuckerberg know about health research?



  • @Yamikuronue said in We can do better than that:

    And what does Zuckerberg know about health research?

    As a pediatrician, I'd assume she probably knows a little about health care research.



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    Also, they're coming from the premise that "typical research is all about finding drugs and treatments that can make lots of money, not about finding good ways to actually cure people

    Bad assumptions like that are going to lead to disappointment.

    But we care more!
    If only the right people were in charge!



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @Yamikuronue said in We can do better than that:

    And what does Zuckerberg know about health research?

    As a pediatrician, I'd assume she probably knows a little about health care research.

    That's a totally unjustifiable assumption, if you mean "conducting research" rather than "using the results of research".


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    @masonwheeler said in We can do better than that:

    :whoosh:

    Oh, I definitely suspected he was trolling after the second post. I just wanted to use that acronym again, since I haven't seen it in a long time. ;)



  • @boomzilla A lot of wrong people are in charge.

    Take the price-gouging on that drug that @Fox is so worked up, for example.

    "Well, it's not a problem, because of the free market: some other company can make it cheaper and sell it for a reasonable price".

    Except, that's really just a slightly different way of saying, "but we care more... if only the right people were in charge".



  • @Steve_The_Cynic said in We can do better than that:

    That's a totally unjustifiable assumption, if you mean "conducting research" rather than "using the results of research".

    A user of research could be the right person to know what researchers are worth funding



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla A lot of wrong people are in charge.

    Take the price-gouging on that drug that @Fox is so worked up, for example.

    "Well, it's not a problem, because of the free market: some other company can make it cheaper and sell it for a reasonable price".

    Except, that's really just a slightly different way of saying, "but we care more... if only the right people were in charge".

    Can you explain how any of that applies to research? Because the way those guys will make money is by finding good treatments / cures.

    Obviously orphan diseases are an exception, but then fixing those isn't going to make much of a dent in healthcare, though it would boost Zuckerberg's idiotic "We can do better" metric.



  • @Steve_The_Cynic said in We can do better than that:

    That's a totally unjustifiable assumption, if you mean "conducting research" rather than "using the results of research".

    If you don't think a pediatrician who taught science is qualified to have an opinion on medical research, I'm really not sure who would. If you look at who actually does research and who uses the results of research, you'll find that there's a lot of overlap. Universities. Hospitals. That should not surprise anyone.



  • @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    the way those guys will make money is by finding good treatments / cures

    But is any treatment / cure that will make them money by definition "good"?

    And is a treatment / cure that can't make them money by definition not "good"?



  • @groo said in We can do better than that:

    @Steve_The_Cynic said in We can do better than that:

    That's a totally unjustifiable assumption, if you mean "conducting research" rather than "using the results of research".

    A user of research could be the right person to know what researchers are worth funding

    Maybe, maybe not. My experience of medical researchers while my wife had a terminal cancer(1) suggests that a lot of them aren't really worth paying for.

    (1) renal clear-cell carcinoma, which isn't responsive to either radiation or conventional chemotherapy, and often isn't diagnosed until it has reached a highly advanced state. I had the surreal experience of walking out of a pharmacy with a box of 28 pills of a semi-experimental drug(2) which would have cost me 75000 euros if the French government hadn't been footing the bill.

    (2) Fully approved for use, even for RCC, but there's enough variation in RCC cases that nobody's sure if it will work in a particular case.



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @Steve_The_Cynic said in We can do better than that:

    That's a totally unjustifiable assumption, if you mean "conducting research" rather than "using the results of research".

    If you don't think a pediatrician who taught science is qualified to have an opinion on medical research, I'm really not sure who would. If you look at who actually does research and who uses the results of research, you'll find that there's a lot of overlap. Universities. Hospitals. That should not surprise anyone.

    True, but the assertion was "she's a pediatrician, therefore she would know about who are the best researchers to fund," and that's not justifiable. No mention was made of the "teaches science" part, but even that doesn't qualify anyone to know who should be funded.

    But yeah, she's more likely to know that than a dot-com CEO made good...



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    the way those guys will make money is by finding good treatments / cures

    But is any treatment / cure that will make them money by definition a "good" treatment / cure?

    I don't think I can answer this without understanding your scare quotes. But I'll elaborate on why you're wrong. :trolleybus:

    I'm sure there are a lot of motivations by existing researchers, including money. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. It's an enormous way that people express what is valuable to them. I think you're wandering into Stupid territory, like saying that we shouldn't be wasting our time writing video games when we could be trying to cure cancer.

    I think the biggest hurdle to medical research is that it's incredibly difficult and no one knows where the value will be until we get there (or at least get "close enough"). I definitely don't have a problem with more people putting more money and resources into the effort, but they can eat a bag of dicks if they start getting all holier than thou about it with respect to the people already doing that stuff.



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla A lot of wrong people are in charge.

    Take the price-gouging on that drug that @Fox is so worked up, for example.

    "Well, it's not a problem, because of the free market: some other company can make it cheaper and sell it for a reasonable price".

    Except, that's really just a slightly different way of saying, "but we care more... if only the right people were in charge".

    It's also badly wrong because the free market doesn't apply to new drugs, what with them being patented and all.



  • I think the original intent of this:

    “Our society spends 50x more treating people who are sick than on finding cures. We can do better than that,” he said.

    may have been to focus on the fact that for many things, it is insanely more profitable for companies to continue to treat a sick person's symptoms and "manage" it than it is to cure the problem in the first place, since a cured person no longer needs to pay for an ongoing prescription or recurring visits, etc.



  • @Yamikuronue said in We can do better than that:

    $3 billion... over the next 10 years. So only $300 million a year. The US federal government spends about $4.8 billion per year on cancer alone (source). That's an insulting drop in the bathtub of disease research.

    In absolute terms yes, it it small.
    But, if you considers it a seed capital, it does more sense.
    Think startups: some ideas, some capital, good seller and relations, they sell appealing to greed and excitement. It builds much more than the seed capital can buy.

    For health you don't realistically have greed or excitement, but you can sell to the very rich as "powerful as you are, you will be impotent if you or your relatives are hit by poor researched health issues", "buy yourself a longer and better life". Plus the "be part of a very exclusive rich guys club" factor.

    Add the factor "not doing as government" that have been mentioned.

    Yes, it is not a guaranteed success.
    Yes, there is some exaggeration in the stated goals, nobody sells being humble.

    It can reach very respectable success, even if not the literal goal.



  • @e4tmyl33t said in We can do better than that:

    may have been to focus on the fact that for many things, it is insanely more profitable for companies to continue to treat a sick person's symptoms and "manage" it than it is to cure the problem in the first place, since a cured person no longer needs to pay for an ongoing prescription or recurring visits, etc.

    I think that's ignorant bullshit along the same lines as @anotherusername's nonsense.



  • @Steve_The_Cynic said in We can do better than that:

    True, but the assertion was "she's a pediatrician, therefore she would know about who are the best researchers to fund," and that's not justifiable.

    Just considering her as a pediatrician, I'd assume that she held an M.D., which is a graduate-level program and (if I'm not grossly mistaken) typically requires participating in at least some research. And then, hospitals generally perform research, and often encourage their doctors to perform research.

    No mention was made of the "teaches science" part

    That was from the Wikipedia article I linked. She also previously graduated from Harvard with a BA in biology, and did the science teacher gig for a year before going to UCSF and getting her doctorate.

    @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    I don't think I can answer this without understanding your scare quotes.

    The point was that the meaning of "good" varies from the person who stands to make a lot of money off it vs. the person who stands to foot the bill for it.

    To the person selling the treatment, a "good" treatment might be one that makes him/her lots of money, possibly even if it's not particularly effective.

    To the person actually getting the treatment, a "good" treatment is one that is actually effective, and also affordable.

    I'm sure there are a lot of motivations by existing researchers, including money. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. It's an enormous way that people express what is valuable to them. I think you're wandering into Stupid territory, like saying that we shouldn't be wasting our time writing video games when we could be trying to cure cancer.

    I think the biggest hurdle to medical research is that it's incredibly difficult and no one knows where the value will be until we get there (or at least get "close enough"). I definitely don't have a problem with more people putting more money and resources into the effort, but they can eat a bag of dicks if they start getting all holier than thou about it with respect to the people already doing that stuff.

    All of that is basically true except the part about what I'm saying; that's not what I'm saying.

    The system probably has significant inefficiency and more than a little conflict of interest. Accountability is a good thing for it; people with a fresh vision, plus backgrounds in business and medicine, plus tons of public influence, plus a boatfull of money, usually don't hurt either.



  • @cabrito said in We can do better than that:

    Think startups: some ideas, some capital, good seller and relations, they sell appealing to greed and excitement. It builds much more than the seed capital can buy.

    Related:



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    All of that is basically true except the part about what I'm saying; that's not what I'm saying.

    Well, you never said it until after I wrote it.

    @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    The system probably has significant inefficiency and more than a little conflict of interest. Accountability is a good thing for it; people with a fresh vision, plus backgrounds in business and medicine, plus tons of public influence, plus a boatfull of money, usually don't hurt either.

    Certainly always room for more. Just don't volunteer to eat a bag of dicks is my point.


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    @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    Well, you never said it until after I wrote it.

    Your poor reading comprehension skills are well documented. You don't need to keep proving them over and over like this.



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @Yamikuronue said in We can do better than that:

    $3 billion... over the next 10 years. So only $300 million a year. The US federal government spends about $4.8 billion per year on cancer alone (source). That's an insulting drop in the bathtub of disease research.

    It wouldn't surprise me terribly if Zuckerberg's piddly little $3e8 per year accomplishes more actual progress than the US federal government's $4.8e9. Consider: Zuckerberg financed and oversaw the building of a successful massive-scale website. The US federal government financed and oversaw the building of healthcare.gov.

    TIL that making a greenfield social networking website is a good comparison with creating a system that integrates hundreds of aging proprietary systems, many of which are maintained by unhelpful and incompetent contractors.



  • @Fox said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    Well, you never said it until after I wrote it.

    Your poor reading comprehension skills are well documented. You don't need to keep proving them over and over like this.

    This thread is about real stuff, not your fantasy worlds.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    @Fox said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    Well, you never said it until after I wrote it.

    Your poor reading comprehension skills are well documented. You don't need to keep proving them over and over like this.

    This thread is about real stuff, not your fantasy worlds.

    Then why are you imagining that @anotherusername said anything like "we shouldn't be wasting our time writing video games when we could be trying to cure cancer"?


  • mod

    @boomzilla From that article's comments section:

    Suppose there was a neural-network database engine, that would query its records according to some arcane undocumented (and indeed undocumentable) trained-in process. The database layout, indexing, data structure and so on were all designed by the neural network, with no attempt to influence it by externally applied human sanity. Nobody really knows what data corresponds to what, except in extremely vague empirically determined terms. Input and data retrieval is achieved by flashing different printed photos of dogs in front of the server webcam. The QA department refuse to give any feedback other than “Sometimes it works.” Nobody knows how many dev teams have worked on this over the years, or recorded what features they (attempted) adding.
    You are now tasked with debugging a problem in which duplicate data is sometimes lost.
    Any variants on the phrase “abandon the whole thing and rewrite it from scratch” are an instant fail condition.

    Yeah, but at least it's not PHP, right?



  • @Groaner said in We can do better than that:

    hundreds of aging proprietary systems, many of which are maintained by unhelpful and incompetent contractors.

    Also financed and overseen by the US government.



  • @Fox said in We can do better than that:

    Then why are you imagining that @anotherusername said anything like "we shouldn't be wasting our time writing video games when we could be trying to cure cancer"?

    He's talking about how the people making research funding decisions are motivated by the wrong things because he's making bad assumptions them and the world. That was an analogous (albeit hyperbolic) example of the sort of thing you hear people say when they think other people's priorities are wrong.

    But course you missed the larger point (because of course you did) that he made a very terse statement that didn't explain himself and the bit he responded to was my elaboration on that and on what he'd said before.



  • @Groaner said in We can do better than that:

    @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    It wouldn't surprise me terribly if Zuckerberg's piddly little $3e8 per year accomplishes more actual progress than the US federal government's $4.8e9. Consider: Zuckerberg financed and oversaw the building of a successful massive-scale website. The US federal government financed and oversaw the building of healthcare.gov.

    TIL that making a greenfield social networking website is a good comparison with creating a system that integrates hundreds of aging proprietary systems, many of which are maintained by unhelpful and incompetent contractors.

    exactly

    Anyway, seems that you are thinking more about healthcare infrastructure and not research.



  • @boomzilla I wasn't saying that they're only motivated by the wrong things.

    The wrong things definitely come into play sometimes, though.



  • @Yamikuronue said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla From that article's comments section:

    Suppose there was a neural-network database engine, that would query its records according to some arcane undocumented (and indeed undocumentable) trained-in process. The database layout, indexing, data structure and so on were all designed by the neural network, with no attempt to influence it by externally applied human sanity. Nobody really knows what data corresponds to what, except in extremely vague empirically determined terms. Input and data retrieval is achieved by flashing different printed photos of dogs in front of the server webcam. The QA department refuse to give any feedback other than “Sometimes it works.” Nobody knows how many dev teams have worked on this over the years, or recorded what features they (attempted) adding.
    You are now tasked with debugging a problem in which duplicate data is sometimes lost.
    Any variants on the phrase “abandon the whole thing and rewrite it from scratch” are an instant fail condition.

    Yeah, but at least it's not PHP, right?

    True, but it could be MongoDB.



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla I wasn't saying that they're only motivated by the wrong things.

    The wrong things definitely come into play sometimes, though.

    Yes, as it surely will with whatever Zuckerberg stands up.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla I wasn't saying that they're only motivated by the wrong things.

    The wrong things definitely come into play sometimes, though.

    Yes, as it surely will with whatever Zuckerberg stands up.

    Now who's making bad assumptions?



  • @boomzilla eh, probably; I'm more inclined to think that he's not just in it for the money, though, given that he has so much already. If the returns mostly come in the form of actual progress rather than money, I think he'd be pretty satisfied. Plus publicity, of course, which I'm sure he also won't mind.



  • @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    @cabrito said in We can do better than that:

    Think startups: some ideas, some capital, good seller and relations, they sell appealing to greed and excitement. It builds much more than the seed capital can buy.

    Related:

    Yeah, they also may be drinking some kool-aid. Guess we will not know until execution is in progress.



  • @Fox said in We can do better than that:

    Now who's making bad assumptions?

    Experience dictates that we have to assume it's you.

    Why, do you have information that Zuckerberg's not human or something?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @boomzilla said in We can do better than that:

    @Fox said in We can do better than that:

    Now who's making bad assumptions?

    Experience dictates that we have to assume it's you.

    Why, do you have information that Zuckerberg's not human or something?

    I'm not the one saying that whatever Zuckerberg does is guaranteed to be riddled with corruption.



  • @anotherusername said in We can do better than that:

    @boomzilla eh, probably; I'm more inclined to think that he's not just in it for the money, though, given that he has so much already. If the returns mostly come in the form of actual progress rather than money, I think he'd be pretty satisfied. Plus publicity, of course, which I'm sure he also won't mind.

    Did you read the article about Silicon valley? What if he just gets enamored of some technology and goes overboard with that because he thinks it's cool?

    Again, I'm not criticizing his effort. Just pushing back on putting him up on a pedestal compared to everyone else who is researching stuff.


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