A Note on RiskLantern Mission and "Startup Time"
Christian and I have been kicking around the idea of a risk-and-technology blog for some time. We work quite a bit in our "day jobs" on predicting the impact of COVID-19 on insurance and risk. The decision to start RiskLantern, however, is not a response to COVID-19. The one correlation is that having two road warriors stuck at home has freed up the kind of focused online time needed to stand up an online blog.
There are obvious intersections between risk and COVID-19. All citizens must make big decisions about safety, society, employment, and investment amid an uncertain and shifting environment. Humans face a range of decisions from mask-wearing to appropriate social distancing to medical decisions on care. Politicians have taken varying approaches around the world on fighting COVID-19 and there is enough data available to evaluate the outcomes of various risk strategies. And ultimately our human society must change its attitudes on some fundamental risks for the long term or face economic depression and many unneeded deaths. These are all ripe for exploration.
Beyond COVID-19, the death of George Floyd and others has brought new attention and energy to the fight against discrimination. Racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities have faced persecution and bias around the world. They face unique uncertainties others do not.
These debates, however, have been inextricably linked to politics. In many countries, that pressure has put a lot of bad statistical argument in the public field. Advocates of all stripes, in their zeal to espouse a point of view, are putting forward biased arguments and slanted numbers. We hope to explore those issues, and perhaps shed light on more constructive approaches to gauging risk, decisions, and potential outcomes.
But in today's caffeine-fueled social media environment, posting on specific political issues can easily spiral into arguments well afield of our focus. Whether we take issue with the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal will be perceived through a political lens first, and discussion then becomes difficult to get back on track.
Our plan is to focus discussion around risk and decisions. We aim for a starting basis with common framework and common terminology. This helps put some guardrails around the discussion and makes terms clear and critiques focused. It also establishes a neutral tone, separating the mechanics and emotions of decision-making from the content of the decisions themselves.
We can then move on into more "current events" territory. It is absolutely our intent to cover these topics. They are important. Tackling the decision process around such issues is important as well. But we'd like to first establish a solid grounding that is principle- and fact-based. Let's add to the discourse, not the noise.