Few things have been left unscathed by this global pandemic. Where political strife, poverty and other previous ‘global’ issues were embraced with varying degrees of importance, this is a truly global issue which has forced the entirety of the world to pause and take note.
Unlike other life-changing events, rather than sit through the storm and wait for the calm to arrive, this is one such scenario where we appear to be (literally) waiting through the calm for an eventual storm on the other side. Where the shape and nature of the storm remains unknown, we can say with relative certainty that life – or at least some aspects of it: technology, law, work, travel and education – will be transformed by this period.
Taking each category in turn, join us for a five-part series deliberating the specific ways in which the world may change following COVID-19. Here we will touch on various aspects of life and society and suggest the what these transformations may look like, and importantly, what the longer-term impact of such change may be. Topics and areas, we will be exploring include:
- Technology: One of the few ‘winners’ of the pandemic, most of us are spending most of the day on Zoom (or other video-conferencing) calls and meetings, technology has provided a way to connect us while we remain physically distant. We live in a world with virtual happy hours, virtual churches and even virtual funerals but is keeping in touch via tech any replacement for the real thing? With the hideous vulnerability of humans exposed by this virus, how can automation and robotics assist us in remaining human in changing world.
- Law: With the emergence of technology as a potential route for mitigating risk, how will privacy law be affected. In times of national emergency, rights such as privacy are statistically more likely to be reconsidered. With the emergence of contact tracing apps and data-driven health strategy, what does this mean for the future of privacy law? Similarly with more workers now under threat within their own workplace what will be the impact on employment law as regards employee-employer relationship, rights and responsibilities.
- Work: One of the areas most directly impacted by the pandemic, if we are all home workers now, what does this mean for the future of bricks and mortar offices? As some of us transition to virtual offices indefinitely, another spotlight has be shone on the nature of vital services and the providers who provide such services. What will this period tell us about nature of ‘success’ and the roles and services we deem to be essential to society. For those in traditional roles, how will office etiquette and dress be transformed; Will we see the end of the handshake? And if yes, what comes next?
- Travel: Who will be the first brave soul to agree to a month-long cruise? When will travel restrictions be lifted and what is the future of tourism? Now we can virtually tour the louvre, museums and zoo’s, will the cheaper and more efficient digital tourism overtake the authenticity of the real thing? What effect will politics play in the cessation of international travel? Where politics has already become increasingly nationalist, what is the future of global supply chains – especially when this pandemic has uncovered the importance of local trade and independent rural business. What does the impact of all of this have on the other big C-work; Climate Change?
- Education: Given the density of schools and campuses, it is no surprise these were the first to lockdown. Now that students are adjusting to virtual learning, virtual socialising and even virtual graduation ceremonies, what is the future of physical, face-to-face learning. Where students are paying increasing premiums for such studies, will there be an upsurge in demands for financial reimbursement. If yes, what does this tell us about the nature of e-learning? Is it intrinsically “lacking” or can it enhance experiences? Given all these changes and the changing face of higher education, what impact will this have on future generations who are already increasingly embracing non-traditional jobs such as social media influencing and entrepreneurship?
Our first session, next week, will deep dive into the area which has benefited most from this chaos -technology; exploring how it has been used for good and bad, and whether there may be eventual sanctuary in embracing it through automation and robotics.