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North Korean hackers are much scarier than North Korean nukes

AN EPIC catastrophe threatens to rain death and destruction across the world, but it’s not the danger most of us fear—not the missile that an over-inflated autocratic North Korean might launch. If you want to get really terrified, think of this month’s global ransomware hack as a warmup for the kind of complete digital shutdown that might—and some say will—come.

This moment has echoes from 100 years ago. In 1918, the first mechanized world war seemed like the worst thing that had ever happened to humanity. It killed 17 million people in war zones. Starting just as World War I was ending, a Spanish lu pandemic raced around the planet, killing as many as 100 million people in every big city and small town. Nobody anywhere was safe from it, and nobody anticipated it.

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THE DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU NOW Now, startups are applying artificial intelligence (AI), floods of data and automation in ways that promise to dramatically drive down the costs of health care while increasing effectiveness. If this profound trend plays out, within five to ten years, Congress won’t have to fight about the exploding costs of Medicaid and insurance. Instead, it might battle over what to do with a massive windfall. Today’s debate over the repeal of Obamacare would come to seem as backward as a discussion about the merits of leeching.