Can Pfizer alter the course of the pandemic?
1. Abstract from a paper in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research: “Superintelligence is a hypothetical agent that possesses intelligence far surpassing that of the brightest and most gifted human minds. In light of recent advances in machine intelligence, a number of scientists, philosophers and technologists have revived the discussion about the potentially catastrophic risks entailed by such an entity. In this article, we trace the origins and development of the neo-fear of superintelligence, and some of the major proposals for its containment. We argue that total containment is, in principle, impossible, due to fundamental limits inherent to computing itself. Assuming that a superintelligence will contain a program that includes all the programs that can be executed by a universal Turing machine on input potentially as complex as the state of the world, strict containment requires simulations of such a program, something theoretically (and practically) impossible.” (via jair.org)
2. Great news: Pfizer Inc. said its Covid-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients by 89%, a result that has the potential to upend how the disease caused by the coronavirus is treated and alter the course of the pandemic. The shares surged. The drugmaker said in a statement on Friday that it was no longer taking new patients in a clinical trial of the treatment “due to the overwhelming efficacy” and planned to submit the findings to U.S. regulatory authorities for emergency authorization as soon as possible. The results mean there are now two promising candidates for treating Covid-19 patients early in the course of the disease. Last month, Merck & Co. and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics submitted their experimental pill to regulators after a study showed it slashed the risk of getting seriously ill or dying by half in patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19. (via bloomberg.com)
3. Saudi Arabia sent another bullish jolt into the oil market a day after OPEC+ ignored President Biden’s calls for more oil, raising sharply the official selling price of all the nation’s crudes to all buyers. Aramco increased pricing for its key Arab Light grade of crude for Asian customers in December by $1.40 to $2.70. The state producer had been expected to raise it by between 50 cents and $1 a barrel, according to a survey last week. Excluding a brief period last year when Saudi Arabia and Russia were coming out of a price war, the month-on-month price increase for Arab Light to Asia is the second largest in 20 years. (via bloomberg.com)
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