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the interested philanthropy of Silicon Valley start-ups

A sign installed on the site that houses the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (MAXPPP)

At the heart of global technology, where smartphones were invented and where we aim to revolutionize all sectors of life, we logically believe that we have a role to play in the fight against the spread of the epidemic, which is growing rapidly in the country. With containment, apps like Facetime, Facebook Live or Twitter are invaluable, helping us communicate and stay in touch, but Silicon Valley wants to go even further.

The intervention of tech giants takes many forms. The first is obviously financial: Cisco announces that it wants to spend more than $ 200 million in the fight against the Covid-19, while Facebook will distribute $ 100 million in grants and free advertising for small and medium-sized businesses to maintain them. Mark Zuckerberg's company also donated 700,000 masks from its supply to hospitals. And the race between these behemoths is also expanding in this area: Apple promises 10 million masks thanks to its supplier networks

The Californian firm has also launched an application for self-diagnosis. This is a fairly basic questionnaire that advises you to consult – or not – a doctor depending on the result. Google has also created an information site on the coronavirus and its subsidiary deepMind, specializing in artificial intelligence, is working on a virus.

AirBnB provides 100,000 homes around the world so that healthcare workers can rest. Many of these large groups also participated in mid-March in a videoconference with the White House, which is counting on their help.

The Wall Street Journal cites in particular the example of an application which makes it possible to deliver groceries to elderly people, or that of an investor who finances the manufacture of a million artificial respirators, which the American hospitals are sorely lacking. Carbon, specializing in 3D printing, tries to mobilize its customers to make medical equipment with their printers. Another example: the Maker Nexus Company association explains on its site how to create visors with its 3D printer. Many individuals have them in Silicon Valley.

The famous Senator Bernie Sanders, on the far left, did not forget to recall that the tech sector has not always been distinguished by its participation in the life of the community. A manager of a pension fund, for example, sent an email a few days ago to his investors, assuring that he could find them kits for the tests when these kits are rare, which did not fail to create the controversy. Not to mention the fact that Amazon and others often manage to pay the minimum amount of taxes. The example of Uber is the most obvious in this respect: the company does not pay health insurance to its drivers.

Several left-wing elected officials point out the fact that a public health policy cannot be based on the philanthropy of private actors. This is what the Governor of California explained to Mark Zuckerberg in an interview with the Facebook creator. Zuckerberg wants to help test 1,000 people a day. A laudable but insufficient effort at the state level, but the authorities preferred to moderate the enthusiasm of start-ups, like Nurx who wanted to develop tests to be done at home, without a doctor.

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