The Chinese government has been fighting air pollution for years, without seeing much improvement so far. Finally, they are humble enough to call IBM for the rescue, expecting Americans to save them. No, they are not feeling ashamed. Instead, they call it a grand scientific experiment in using state-of-the-art engineering to solve a real-world problem. Isn’t that something? Big data is good, but the Chinese government is supposed to start with some little common sense. True, asking IBM to help is a good call, but over-analysis is definitely not going anywhere. Let’s start with something rather simple.
China probably has the most advanced Internet infrastructure in the world, with all devices on IPv6. It means that many Chinese are supposed to start working from home to reduce traffic in rush hours. Also, people can work from 6 to 2 or 11 to 7 instead of 9 to 5. They just have to keep 11 to 2 as the core office hours to maintain team spirit. After all, face-to-face contact still makes a difference and lunch meetings are always cherished.
Online shopping makes a difference, too. When customers rush to a store, the traffic follows a double-star pattern. When goods and services are delivered from a store to its customers, the traffic follows a single-ring pattern instead, greatly reducing total distance traveled. Also, instead of having many customers on the road, they can now have a few properly scheduled delivery cars, not to mention the possible use of drones that mostly run on electricity. Better traffic means less idle engines on the road. All these factors contribute to a significant reduction in carbon emission and air pollution. The world will thank you!
For example, if you just want to renew a prescription, you can simply call or click, and have the new prescription digitally signed and the drugs delivered to you by drone or by car within 15 minutes, all without going through the long line-ups. If you need an initial diagnosis, you can have a nurse come to your home within 20 minutes. Again, no line-up is necessary. If you need to consult a physician to be sure, then your nurse can communicate with your doctor from his or her laptop following the initial diagnosis. There is really no difference, because even at the clinic, your doctor is acting as a decision-making consultant only. Nurses are the ones that perform the physical tasks of diagnosis.
Operating efficiency translates to the prevalence of accessible and affordable goods and services. When basic medical attention, a traditionally costly service at about $20 for 1 minute depending on the rates, becomes as accessible and affordable as fast food, it means there will be more visits and hence better understanding of patients and their health. The medical data can then feed into a centralized database system run on a supercomputer to assist in pharmaceutical research, not to mention the opportunity to eliminate the procrastination of most cancer patients who usually miss their early discoveries, which could have significantly increased their survival rate, decreased their medical cost and reduced their pain in cancer treatments. Health may not be very important, but we are talking productivity here. The longer you stay in a hospital, the less productive you will be in your life time for your beloved country. Doesn’t that mean something to you?
Of course, the much higher volume will contribute to GDP as a benefit. The advancement in pharmaceutical research will also create more employment opportunities for chemists, which in turn will encourage more students to pursue chemistry, who can later move into other fields, such as material science, a traditionally weak area of China. When employment in an important discipline is nearly guaranteed, you will begin to see more interesting people. This is common knowledge and common sense. Naturally, they will also need a dedicated national chemical society to encourage more interactions among chemists.
You see, this does sound like a casual essay written by a high schooler. Can the Chinese government do better than that? This is why democracy is difficult in China. The Chinese Communist Party simply is not competent enough to handle open and fair competition with political opposition. With this in mind, I am not even counting on them to become hobbits. If they make it to quarterians in terms of GDP per capita, even they will call it a miracle and make it a national celebration. This is how low they aim!
IBM, save the Chinese Communist Party, for you are their hope!