To fully understand the genesis of the anti-Coronavirus App, and of all its copies, one must first understand a branch of philosophy which is magical thinking. Years ago (and for several years) I went very deeply into the subject, because it fascinated me one thing: if a practice survives 15,000 years, including repressive waves such as Islam, the inquisition or the Soviet regime, it must be useful .
I am not saying that it works in the terms in which it is sold, but it is not possible that for 15,000 years billions of people continue to practice something without it being useful . There are also explanations from psychologists, but essentially after understanding how magic works it takes very little to understand that psychology and psychoanalysis are in turn forms of magical thinking. So I was trying to understand.
Once I understood why I kept going, but the knowledge of magic and many studies on it (from Propp to Frazer, and so on) makes it easier for me to recognize magical thinking when I see it.
The first thing you need to understand is this:
"Any technology incomprehensible in its functioning and its aesthetics appears as magic".
What I mean is that to many people computer science appears to be a form of magic. Magic that already has its tetragrammaton in the word "algorithm", and that realizes things that were once exactly the task of magic. If you read any book or comic where there were great sorcerers, (even in Zagor) you see that these characters did the things we do.
In front of their brazier of fire they threw mysterious substances, and among the fumes they could
- see at a distance, (like opening web pages with some webcams).
- act remotely (a bit like when we control our IoT with a mobile phone)
- tap into unlimited and universal knowledge of higher powers (a bit like we do with big data)
the juice, in short, is that from a layman's point of view, computer scientists do magical things. Or rather, they do the things that were previously attributed to sorcerers. Communicating visually thousands of kilometers away, changing reality using incomprehensible formulas, reading very rare and incomprehensible books written in exotic languages (such as the documentation of Kafka, or the manuals of Kubernetes) all this was attributed to shamans, witches and sorcerers.
We can say with some accuracy that for the vast majority of people we computer scientists do magic . They know there is some knowledge behind it, but in the end, any incomprehensible technology appears as magic.
After all, even those who accuse 5G of causing epidemics and controlling people do nothing but talk about millennia-old superstitions: you may need to read Sprenger & Institoris' Malleus Maleficarum to know that witches were accused of … causing epidemics and summon spirits that then possessed people?
The charge against 5G is nothing but a charge for witchcraft. And it will certainly not be the first time that some nefomancer looks at the clouds and explains the rava and the bean of every bad luck that happens to us. Chemtrails existed 15,000 years ago, when the first kidnapper looked up into the sky and said to a guy "that's why you're dying of the plague in your family. It's not because you lick the rats, it's all written on the clouds! ".
Having established the strong link between modern technology and ignorant masses, we can go on to explain the history of the Apps "that defeat the coronavirus".
In itself, the functioning of the Apps for people is already magical on its own. There would be no app for weight loss or app for rejuvenating the face, if there was not a very strong magical belief: it is believed that the App makes you lose weight, or that listening to sounds generated by some app improves health, or whatever.
And when a pestilence comes, and nobody understands why, and scientists say they don't know how to make everything disappear in four and four, it's time for magicians.
And from a distant land a news arrives: in three days they solved everything with an app. Here is the magic .
Technology does NOT explain how they did it. This must be clear.
GPS has very strong limits when it comes to indoor. If even using GPS + Glonass or Galileo it is possible to resolve your position with the required precision, it only works outdoors. Indoor, accuracy may not be enough.
Then people say "hey, but then Bluetooth thinks about it." I guess their trust is great, but bluetooth is NOT so accurate that it does what it takes.
Maybe with NFC you could do something similar, but few phones can guarantee the precision we seek, while we seek high coverage.
So no: not even in South Korea the maggica App has stopped the epidemic. The state probably knows the location of cell phones for other reasons (like a cold war with North Korea) and hasn't wanted to tell citizens. But certainly it was not the tracking of the App: people who go to work and spend more than 15 minutes less than 1m from each other are mainly covered, in the company, in some building or on public transport. Where the possibility of tracking normal GPS does not allow you to do what is said to have done with the magical App.
But exoticism is in turn a reinforcement of magical belief: the more magical knowledge is occult, inaccessible (and even more so if you speak Korean) and the more credible it is. Calderoli would not have believed a macumba from Kyenge's father if the Kyenge had been a native of Brescia.
Only very few phones can measure the distance between two bluetooth antennas, in theory, with the required accuracy. But there is hardly any literature on effectiveness between different mobile brands.
It is certainly possible that using two IDENTICAL phones, with the same CPU chip, the same bluetooth chip, the same libraries, the same age and battery charge, you can use bluetooth or GPS or NFC to accurately determine the distance between two people. I guess Apple or Samsung can show you that in these conditions they do.
But when we talk about whole populations, we talk about a different question. There is talk of Android that has dozens of builds, completely different cpu, completely different chips, different versions of bluetooth and extremely fragmented operating systems, such as Android. You don't have the faintest hope that it will work, not even theoretical .
Ultimately, therefore, apps have NEVER been able to work on the scale described by the Koreans.
It would have been better if the Korean government had admitted to being in a cold war and to have electronic war stations across the country .
But I know this explanation will NEVER convince you. Unless you have worked for years with device certification , no one has any idea of the jungle of standards and of "one bit fuck everything" that you encounter when you bring together chips, systems, versions of the operating system, manufacturers and different models.
So you won't believe it.
And then you will continue to think that yes, maybe they did it wrong, but some wizard / genius of computer science, really prepared, could perhaps….
And that's exactly how magic has survived for 15,000 years.