Foresight of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Future View
Last week I spoke about “A Whole New World (For us not for Aladdin)”. That article spoke about how nature has won a little bit and what might happen next. In this article we are looking to address that we're not going back to "normal" after the coronavirus. Today, there are no clues as to the danger lurking outside my front door except for the eerie absence of people.
Our lives are being restricted by a virus that is invisible to the naked eye, verging on abstraction, and yet it is terrifyingly real.
Compare this to all the ways our lives are restricted by the many brutal rules, payments, and punishments of capitalism, which are now being revealed as actual fabrications that were subject to quick, substantive change all along—in other words, fake as hell.
The difference is: We can't change the fact that a virus is attacking the human species. We can change the fact that things are going to change, so let’s look at these things that are going to change or have changed:
We are facing a global trust-crisis. In 2020, while humans squabbled, the virus doubled. And surveillance became the new default. In this moment of crisis, the crucial struggle takes place within humanity itself. If this epidemic results in greater disunity and mistrust among humans, it will be the virus’s greatest victory; when humans squabble, viruses double. In contrast, if the epidemic results in closer global cooperation, it will be a victory not only against the coronavirus, but against all future pathogens. But we can start to see the trend that those extra security measures that were initially related to Covid-19, such as increased urban video surveillance, widespread mobile phone location tracking and ubiquitous face recognition, could well become the new normal.
Healthcare will once again become a public matter and responsibility, and the spread of privatized healthcare will be reversed. Investments in healthcare, particularly in biotechnologies, will skyrocket. Millions of new jobs will result. Complex ethical challenges will emerge, related to ‘big data’, tracking & surveillance, AI and or IA and (maybe) even genome editing.
Hate to say it but the fossil fuel industries (oil, gas and coal) will rapidly become burning platforms, with divestment reaching record heights and with a huge influx of new money going into sustainable energy, generating 10s of millions of new jobs.
As we forecasted, tech will be even further entrenched in our daily habits and rituals, but will also be constantly challenged on its ethics, values and responsibilities. Too-much-of-a-good-thing will be the key challenge and regulation debates will rage. Will it be humanity on top of technology, or should we transcend the limitations of humans and even humanity at large?
Big Brother Strike: spread mass surveillance and digital tracking will become the new normal in many countries, spreading beyond cities and public spaces to the workplace and thus private life at home. In many democratic countries, going back to the pre-corona norms on surveillance will become a problem.
As we forecasted (again) new global travel rules will include the medical vetting of long-distance travelers. Multinational companies will move many of their upcoming meetings, events and conferences to increasingly sophisticated virtual platforms and telepresence systems, including AR, VR, MR (mixed reality) and holograms; come on Ludicrous Labs.
Remote working, virtual meetings and digital conferencing will become an established everyday habit, catalyzing the convergence of work and home and requiring the rapid adaptation of our pre-corona social contracts and the traditional logic of social security. Thankfully for you, we have a solution for that.
Politics, ‘strongman’ and populist politicians harking back to a vanished past will be ousted or simply ignored, and a new generation of forward-thinking, forward-focused leaders will take their place, millennials and women among them. Yet at the same time, some autocratic regimes will seek to expand their power over their citizens, using the crisis as an excuse for maintaining draconian surveillance measures. Thus, COVID-19 may fuel and facilitate the spread of authoritarianism – but only where it existed before the crisis.
The European Union is forced (as well as politically authorized) to think and act as a united region – the United States of Europe will emerge much quicker than anticipated and hopefully stronger, but it will show cracks.
So, this pandemic, whether incidental or the wrath of mother nature, has and will provide an opportunity to learn from a plethora of social innovations, failures, fears and experiments. From working from home to large-scale surveillance, to at some point loss of trust, lessons will be learned. With this will come an understanding of which innovations, if adopted permanently, might provide substantial uplift to economic and social welfare and which would ultimately inhibit the broader advancement of society, even if they’re helpful in halting or limiting the spread of the virus.
As we consider the scale of change that the coronavirus has created and will continue to create in the weeks and months ahead, I feel compelled to reflect not just on a health crisis of immense proportion but also on an imminent restructuring of the global economic order. How exactly this crisis evolves remains to be seen. But the 9 insights above offer leaders and companies a clear path to begin navigating to the next normal, or a normal that looks unlike any in the years preceding the coronavirus; the pandemic that changed everything.