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New world. How 2019-nCoV Coronavirus Disrupts Tech Industry

A Foxconn recruiting office in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, southern China (illustration). (STR / AFP)

The technology sector is largely based on China. Near Huwan, we manufacture screens (Tsinghua Group). In Shenzhen, in the south-east of the country, fleas and whole products are produced (Foxconn factories, Pegatron). Production at the Foxconn plant, which notably manufactures the Apple iPhone, is halted until February 10, according to government instructions. This could disrupt the supply chain for the current iPhone and future smartphones of the American brand.

Apple has closed all of its stores in China. Tim Cook expressed a thought for the victims and Chinese personnel recently when announcing the company's financial results, not without concealing his concerns about the production of the brand's products. As in other sectors, several high-tech companies have also banned their employees from traveling to China, which further disrupts activities.

That's not all. In addition to economic issues, the coronavirus also has effects in the digital sphere in terms of misinformation and Internet scams. Fake news is multiplying, especially on social networks: conspiracy theories according to which the virus was developed voluntarily for political and economic reasons, false information on the spread or on the modes of contamination without forgetting the false ones absurd remedies like drinking bleach. Against this, Facebook has highlighted its anti-fake news strategy which mainly consists of two points: warning against false information and valuing certified information. In China, people looking for reliable information tend to fall back on the social networks Weechat, Whatsapp or Telegram where small groups are created to share reliable information. As for scams, the inevitable phishing attempts are increasing. Waves of e-mails trying to capture personal data while playing on the fear of the virus are spreading on the Web.

But technology also contributes to the edifice in terms of crisis management. Many technological tools are used: temperature detectors connected in public places, analysis robots in Chinese hospitals or spraying disinfectants on planes, drones to warn the population without forgetting conversational robots by phone to inform residents .

Could technology go further? Companies are developing initiatives using AI to detect, study the spread or optimize quarantine measures (source). For example, the Canadian company Big Data, BlueDot, detected the coronavirus in late December, before health authorities.

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