Tech pitches in to help address the coronavirus crisis

Tech pitches in to help address the coronavirus crisis

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There’s a long tradition in times of crisis for American businesses to chip in, whether it be converting their factories to wartime production or lending their executives to the national effort. 

The White House convened a call of the tech behemoths on Wednesday to ask for their help. Some of it plays to their strengths. It wants the big companies, for example, to use their artificial intelligence expertise to analyze databases of medical reports on the coronavirus crisis. Companies like Google and Facebook have been preparing for this moment, so fingers are crossed. 

In other instances, the government simply wants the big tech companies to accelerate efforts to stop the spread of misinformation. That’s a sad commentary on what these tech companies have wrought. At a time when trust is everything, the crisis over the untrustworthiness of the “social media” platforms is sickening. If they were regulated like the media companies they are, no one would have to ask them, again, to clean up their acts. 

On the other hand, the tech industry’s unprecedented ability to connect people during an unprecedented health scare is commendable. So much of face-to-face business will be irreparably interrupted by this disease, from basketball games to meals at restaurants. But the power of the Internet will make it possible for workers to work and for loved ones to visit. 

It’s only Thursday. 

Adam Lashinsky

@adamlashinsky

[email protected]

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.