Science + Health

Biased Algorithms Exacerbate Racial Inequality in Health Care

From the beginning, it was an ambitious idea. Computer automation would remove the taint of human emotion or prejudice from everyday life. Algorithms—the series of instructions that tell computers what to do—would make important decisions about everything from hiring to health care.

The reality, as Ziad Obermeyer discovered, is not quite that simple.

How to Kick-Start Your Bird-Watching Hobby From Home

Look up! While you were stirring up a tweetstorm on your phone, real (non)human drama was unfolding among the original tweeters—that’s right, the birds. Cooper’s hawks are in hot pursuit of pigeons through the Berkeley canopy. A consortium of bushtits gather on the sidewalk, and a black phoebe lands pensively on your fence post. 

What Comes After the Pandemic?

“The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago,” the author Rebecca Solnit, M.A. ’84, wrote of the pandemic in the Guardian in early April. In a crisis, Solnit wrote, “Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges.” 

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

Michael Mann Fought Climate Denial. Now He’s Fighting Climate Doom.

ONE AUGUST AFTERNOON IN 2010, Michael Mann was opening mail in his office at Penn State University when a dusting of white powder emerged from an envelope. At first he thought it was his imagination. “I figured maybe it’s just an old dingy envelope or something,” Mann recalled. His next thought: anthrax.  

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

COVID-19 Has Hit African Americans the Hardest. Here’s Why.

As the death toll for COVID-19 crosses 100,000 people in the United States—the highest number of any country in the world—African Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted by the virus. Nationally, African Americans are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as would be expected based on their share of the population according to an NPR analysis.

Alice Waters Talks Food and Hope in Hard Times

Restaurateur and food activist Alice Waters is holed up in her Berkeley home amidst shelter-in-place orders, but she is hopeful about the future. Waters discovered her passion for the culinary arts in the late 60s when she left UC Berkeley to study abroad in France.

What Stockton’s UBI Experiment Can Teach Us About Surviving Coronavirus

Michael Tubbs, the 29-year-old mayor of Stockton, has the kind of life that, if you squint, could convince you the American dream is alive and well. He grew up in Stockton, the son of a single mother and an incarcerated father. He spent his lunch money buying SAT prep books, studying hungry. He eventually attended Stanford and interned at the White House. In 2016, he became the city’s first black mayor.

The Do’s and Dont’s: Health Experts Answer Your COVID Questions

On Wednesday, March 25, Michael Lu, Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, hosted a virtual Q&A, “Coronavirus: Facts and Fears,” open to the public. For 90 minutes, experts from the school and other campus health services responded to listeners’ day-to-day fears and practical concerns about navigating life during the pandemic.

A Socially Distant Town Hall with Senator Nancy Skinner

On Thursday evening, March 19, California State Senator and UC Berkeley alumna Nancy Skinner held a phone-in town hall for constituents, focused on the shelter in place orders. As she was about to introduce her guest experts from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, she interrupted herself with the news that Governor Gavin Newsom had just announced a statewide shelter-in-place order, raising the stakes of the meeting.

What’s It Like in the ER These Days?

Dr. Steve LeVine has been an emergency physician at Kaiser Oakland since 1989. A UC Berkeley graduate, he completed his medical education at UC San Francisco. As he recalls, he started his career at the dawn of the AIDS crisis and is now nearing the end of his career amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asked what life is like in Bay Area emergency rooms at this moment, he likened it to “being in the tide pools when the tide has gone way, way out and you’re looking at flopping fish, and not looking at the horizon for the big tsunami wave.”

“Post-Apocalyptic”: A NYT Reporter Describes Life on the Frontlines of Wuhan

In the last few months, Amy Qin’s reporting attire has included gloves, masks, and sometimes a hazmat suit. Stationed in China, the New York Times reporter has been on the frontlines, reporting on the coronavirus epidemic and its impact on the people of Wuhan and other Chinese cities.

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