Hint: Ils ne parlent pas le français.

 

The U.S. government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which helps fund HealthMap, has used this success story as evidence that the approaches used in its Open Source Indicators program can indeed “beat the news” and provide the earliest warnings of impending disease outbreaks and conflict.

It’s an inspirational story that is a common refrain in the big data world — sophisticated computer algorithms sift through millions of data points and divine hidden patterns indicating a previously unrecognized outbreak that was then used to alert unsuspecting health authorities and government officials.  The problem is that this story isn’t quite true:

By the time HealthMap monitored its very first report, the Guinean government had actually already announced the outbreak and notified the WHO.

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