Mar 13, 2017, 11:04 AM
new coronavirus pandemic is upending life as we know it.
More than one-quarter of the world’s 7.8 billion people are now largely confined to their homes, as governments step up curbs on movement and social contact in a bid to contain the virus.
In many parts of the world, borders are closed, airports, hotels and businesses shut, and school cancelled. These unprecedented measures are tearing at the social fabric of some societies and disrupting many economies, resulting in mass job losses and raising the spectre of widespread hunger.
Much remains uncertain, but analysts say the pandemic and the measures we are taking to save ourselves could permanently change the ways in which we live, work, worship and play in the future. We envisioning that post-pandemic world is key in ensuring we change for the better, not the worse.
As the ‘analog world’ descends into crisis, tech firms will become even more powerful
Andrew Keen is a commentator on the digital revolution and author of five books, including How to Fix the Future.
The physical analog world is being decimated, with traditional analog businesses including hotels, restaurants and airplanes in crisis. The digital world, however, is thriving. We are surviving through this pandemic because of technology.
Everyone is sitting at home, and their window to the world is through their smart phone.
In the post-pandemic world, technology will be as ubiquitous as it is now, if not more, and tech companies will become even more powerful and dominant. That includes smaller firms like Zoom, and the big players such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Paypal. And not just Americans firms, but also Chinese. Prior to this, we saw a period in which people were increasingly more cynical and critical of technology. But, as the pandemic increases our dependence on technology, people will forget that hostility towards Silicon Valley, at least in the short term.
We could also see more government use of surveillance. It is a useful weapon to fight the virus - for instance, countries like Israel are using smart phones to figure out who’s been where in order to track clusters of the virus - but at the same time, such moves threaten to undermine individual freedom and privacy. This is nothing new, it only compounds and accelerates forces that have been at play for many years. Moving forward, this will affect not just our ability to hide from the camera, but also determine our socio-political rights.
Separately, China will benefit greatly from this crisis as it was the first country to experience the epidemic and to get out of it. The technocratic authoritarian model in Beijing and East Asia, such as in Singapore and to some extent South Korea - countries that are dealing more effectively with the virus - now appears more viable than the Western democratic one. And for people who care about freedom, privacy and individual rights, the world after the coronavirus looks much more worrying.
A Guest Editorial