Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The end of the beginning of the gig economy? Uber, Lyft and California AB5

 The San Francisco Chronicle has the latest news on the most concrete step yet to require Uber and Lyft to shift from a contractor-driver business model to one of driver employees...

Judge says California Uber, Lyft drivers should be employees

by Carolyn Said 

"A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Monday granted California’s request for a preliminary injunction to make the state’s Uber and Lyft drivers into employees. The 34-page order was scathing about the ride-hailing companies’ “prolonged and brazen refusal to comply with California law,” namely AB5, the new gig-work law that makes it harder for companies to claim that workers are independent contractors.


"However, it is likely to have little immediate impact.

"Judge Ethan Schulman stayed his injunction for 10 days. The companies will appeal it and seek a longer stay before the 10 days are up. An appeals court likely would hear their emergency motion quickly. Uber said it expects to be granted the longer-term delay and does not anticipate any near-term changes to its business. No matter what, it could not hire tens of thousands of drivers in a matter of days, it said.


"AB5 established an ABC test that says workers are employees unless A) they are free from a hiring entity’s control, B) perform work outside the hiring entity’s usual business, and C) have an independent business doing that kind of work.


"Along with other gig companies, Uber and Lyft are pursuing a $110 million November ballot measure, Proposition 22, asking California voters to keep drivers as freelancers who are entitled to some earnings guarantees and benefits. DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates, the other Prop. 22 backers, are not named in the California lawsuit but presumably would be affected by whatever precedent it sets. (Uber has purchased Postmates in a deal that will close next year.)"

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Transplanting two kidneys from older deceased donors to reduce discards

Here's a venerable but newly fashionable idea in transplantation, particularly for deceased donors whose (individual) kidneys have already been rejected when offered.  Transplant both kidneys into the same recipient, to reduce the risk.

Here's a paper from January:
Lee, K.W., Park, J.B., Cha, S.R. et al. Dual kidney transplantation offers a safe and effective way to use kidneys from deceased donors older than 70 years. BMC Nephrol 21, 3 (2020).

And here's a very recent news article talking about a different, larger study:

By Melissa J. Webb

"Using data from the United Kingdom Transplant Registry, they identified 7,841 kidneys procured from deceased donors aged 60 years or older, finding that 17% of these were discarded.

Considering the remaining kidneys used for transplant (356 for dual; 5,032 for single), the researchers determined that both donors and recipients of dual transplants were older (median, 73 years vs. 66 years and 64 years vs. 61 years, respectively). Donors of kidneys used in dual transplantation also had higher United States Kidney Donor Risk Indices (2.48 vs 1.98 for those used in single transplants).

After adjusting for confounders, the researchers observed similar 5-year graft survival between dual and single transplants (HR = 0.81), as well as a higher median eGFR at 12 months for recipients of dual transplants (40 mL/min/1.73m2 vs. 36 mL/min/1.73m2)."

Monday, August 10, 2020

Reputation among thieves: ransomware and kidnapping

Like everyone else, I occasionally get notifications of data breaches from organizations with which I have digital relations.  Often the breach involved a third party.  Sometimes the breach involves the theft of data accompanied by a demand of ransom--i.e. the victim is invited to pay the cybercriminal, who then promises to destroy the data instead of selling it on the dark web or otherwise using it.

This bears some resemblance to the kidnapping business, and its high-seas version, piracy.

Here's part of an email I recently received informing me of such a breach, and subsequent payment of ransom.

"I’m writing to inform you that Blackbaud, the company that hosts [xxx’s] relationship management system, suffered a security incident in May. Blackbaud is the world’s largest provider of fundraising technology for non-profits and educational institutions, and many organizations have been impacted by this incident.
"We were also informed by Blackbaud that in order to protect data and mitigate potential identity theft, it met the cybercriminal’s ransomware demand. Blackbaud has advised us that it received assurances from the cybercriminal and third-party experts that the data was destroyed. Blackbaud has been monitoring the web in an effort to verify the data accessed by the cybercriminal has not been misused. "
Why should "assurances from the cybercriminal" be reassuring? (and for how long?).  And what are the roles played by "third-party experts"?

My guess is that, as in the kidnapping biz, intermediaries have emerged to conduct the negotiations, get some sort of assurances, and make it possible for criminal organizations to maintain reputations for honor among thieves.

It is of course possible to regard ransom paying as a repugnant transaction that facilitates ransomware, kidnapping, etc.  In fact the U.S. for some time made it a crime to pay ransom to kidnappers, but relaxed that view over time, as kidnapping became a bigger international business, and there was often a considerable desire (sometimes covered by insurance) to pay ransom when it seemed the best way to recover the kidnapped person alive.

Here are some related posts which touch on that story:

Monday, June 24, 2019  Kidnapping insurance

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Ransom as a (not so) repugnant transaction

Monday, August 9, 2010 Brokers for pirate ransom

Saturday, December 5, 2009 Market for kidnapping

Sunday, November 30, 2008 Pirate ransom: counterparty risk

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Experimental Economics SITE conference at Stanford, by Zoom, Aug 10 and 11, 2020

 Tomorrow and Tuesday, here's the SITE Experimental Economics conference schedule (Mon Aug. 10 and Tuesday Aug. 11).  

Muriel Introduce SITE confernece
SESSION 1: 9am - 10:30am pacific (12pm eastern, 6pm europe)Lise - in charge
1Overriding in Teams: The Role of Beliefs, Social Image, and GenderMaria Recalde, University of Melbourne(Lise Q)
2Information and the Persistence of the Gender Wage Gap: Early Evidence from California's Salary History BanBenjamin Hansen, University of Oregon(Lise Q)
3Attention as Human CapitalHeather Schofield, University of Pennsylvania(Colin Q)
10:30am - 11am pacific: Break/Discussion (1pm eastern, 7pm europe)
SESSION 2: 11 -12:30pm pacific (2pm eastern, 8pm europe)Muriel - in charge
4Social Learning in Groups: an Experimental StudyMarina Agranov, Caltech(Muriel Q)
5Beliefs in Repeated GamesGuillaume Frechette, NYU(Muriel Q)
6Beyond Ordinal: The Value of Indifferences and Cardinal Information in MatchingClayton Featherstone, University of Pennsylvania(Muriel Q)
12:30pm - 1pm pacific: Break/Discussion (3:30pm eastern, 9:30pm europe)
Day 2 (August 11)
SESSION 3: 9:30am -10:30pm pacific (12:30pm eastern, 6:30pm europe)Lise - in charge
7The Burden of Holding DebtAlejandro Martínez-Marquina, Stanford University
8Claiming Credit: Gender, Memory, and Social NormsJonas Mueller-Gastell, Stanford University
9It’s Not my Fault: Excuse-Seeking Behavior in the Intertemporal DomainMarissa Lepper, University of Pittsburgh
10Do Actions Speak Louder than Motives? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Image-FundraisingPun (pronounced like "Poon") Winichakul, University of Pittsburgh
10:30am - 11am pacific: Break/Discussion (1pm eastern, 7pm europe)
SESSION 4: 11 -12:30pm pacific (2pm eastern, 8pm europe)Muriel - in charge
11Fairness Across the World: Preferences and BeliefsAlexander W. Cappelen, Norwegian School of Economics(Christine Q)
12Cognitive Flexibility or Moral Commitment? Evidence of Anticipated Belief Distortion
Silvia Saccardo, Carnegie Mellon University(Christine Q)
13Digital AddictionHunt Allcott, New York University and Microsoft Research(Colin Q)
Muriel close SITE confernece
12:30pm - 1pm pacific: Break/Discussion (3:30pm eastern, 9:30pm europe)

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Is convalescent plasma useful for treating covid-19?

The reported results on convalescent plasma are so far still quite incomplete, and mixed.  If I had to summarize, I'd say that a growing body of evidence suggests that treating early stage (e.g. just hospitalized) covid-19 patients increases and speeds the chance of recovery, while there is little convincing evidence that convalescent plasma helps more severely ill patients who have begun to have serious complications.

Here is a recent WSJ article:

By Amy Dockser Marcus

"Hospitalized Covid-19 patients who received transfusions of blood plasma rich with antibodies from recovered patients reduced their mortality rate by about 50%, according to researchers running a large national study.
"The researchers said they saw signs that the treatment might be working in patients who received high levels of antibodies in plasma early in the course of their illness. They based their conclusions on an analysis of about 3,000 patients."

Here's a recent paper in JAMA on a very small randomized trial in China that doesn't find statistically significant effects on patients who 

August 4, 2020
Ling Li, MD, PhD; Wei Zhang, MD; Yu Hu, MD, PhD; Xunliang Tong, MD, PhD; Shangen Zheng, MD; Juntao Yang, PhD; Yujie Kong, MD; Lili Ren, PhD; Qing Wei, MD; Heng Mei, MD, PhD; Caiying Hu, MD; Cuihua Tao, MD; Ru Yang, MD; Jue Wang, MD; Yongpei Yu, PhD; Yong Guo, PhD; Xiaoxiong Wu, MD; Zhihua Xu, MD; Li Zeng, MD; Nian Xiong, MD, PhD; Lifeng Chen, MD; Juan Wang, MD; Ning Man, MD; Yu Liu, PhD; Haixia Xu, MD; E. Deng, MS; Xuejun Zhang, MS; Chenyue Li, MD; Conghui Wang, PhD; Shisheng Su, PhD; Linqi Zhang, PhD; Jianwei Wang, PhD; Yanyun Wu, MD, PhD; Zhong Liu, MD, PhD
  JAMA. 2020; 324(5):460-470. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.10044

Abstract: This randomized trial compares the effects of convalescent plasma therapy with standard care vs standard care alone on time to clinical improvement among patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 disease in China.

"Among patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, convalescent plasma therapy added to standard treatment did not significantly improve the time to clinical improvement within 28 days, although the trial was terminated early and may have been underpowered to detect a clinically important difference."

My last donation had high enough antibodies to qualify me for another: I hope these are going to patients for whom they will be useful.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Global kidney exchange between Abu Dhabi and Kerala (India)

Here is an article in the newspaper Malayalam Manorama, in Malayalam, the language spoken in Kerala, about a global kidney exchange between hospitals in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and in Kerala in India.

The url hints at the story: the exchange was between a Kerala hospital and a UAE hospital that both used kidney exchange software provided by Mike Rees's organization, the Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation (APKD), to identify the exchange, which was performed in India:

The article says SEHA Kidney Care Staff( Anan Purushothaman, Sheenamma Varghese , Siddiq Anwar) with Dr Mike Rees from Alliance For Paired Donation helped find a compatible  kidney donor in India via the “Global Kidney Paired Exchange”. Dr Feroz Aziz then successfully transplanted the two pairs.

Kim Krawiec, through a friend fluent in Malayalam, gives the following summary:

"The article goes on to say that Najla was in want of a kidney donor. Even though she had 3 of her relatives who were ready to donate none of them were compatible. She was asked to get in touch with the organisation called Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation, where they find donors all around the world using the latest technology. With the help of this organisation and the latest technology, not to mention the doctors and nurses she was able to find a compatible donor. At the same time Najma's mother was able to donate her kidney to the Abu Dhabi donor's husband. Now all are well and back to normal life."

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Is randomization repugnant?

Patrick R. Heck,  Christopher F. Chabris,  Duncan J. Watts, and Michelle N. Meyer
PNAS first published July 27, 2020
Edited by Margaret Levi, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, and approved July 4, 2020 (received for review May 13, 2020)
Abstract: We resolve a controversy over two competing hypotheses about why people object to randomized experiments: 1) People unsurprisingly object to experiments only when they object to a policy or treatment the experiment contains, or 2) people can paradoxically object to experiments even when they approve of implementing either condition for everyone. Using multiple measures of preference and test criteria in five preregistered within-subjects studies with 1,955 participants, we find that people often disapprove of experiments involving randomization despite approving of the policies or treatments to be tested.