I used to mention in my conferences the arrival of 2020 as a year of change in humanity because I knew that this year was going to be the beginning of an era where the digital, biological and physical were going to collide.
But I never thought that we were going to live a pandemic that would force us to have to replace everything abruptly. This virus will not only drive us to change the way we work, relate, work and study, but it will also change our vision of life and ourselves.
We will finally realize a huge power (as well as a huge threat) of biotechnology due to its ability to create biological weapons that no government or non-governmental actor has viable answers to.
Our shift in thinking should go far beyond the comprehension of biotechnology, however. We now must think and reflect on how to transform our outlook, our learning and investments to be in line with world-wise drastic changes.
While previously considered a good-to-have, a digital culture and mass digitisation of data and interactions will finally become a cornerstone of global growth and development.
Everyone does and will have various views and conclusions related to the current Covid-19 crisis, but the way people and businesses respond to this crisis provides us with some truly amusing results and tectonic changes which will be widely applied in all parts of our lives.
The use of technology to measure and manage risk is one of those areas. Some technologies are very specific to the current outbreak. If we look closer, however, they are the beginning of what will be an everyday reality since now on.
As of now countries like China, Singapore and South Korea are using a variety of data points, such as public transport records and flight reservations, to inform people if they have approached a person who is known to be infected with the disease.
How hard is it to extrapolate the main concept and envision a society where lies and half-truth have no more place in our reality?
Artificial intelligence is also being widely deployed for a variety of uses, from data analysis to identifying people who don’t wear face masks to issuing an advertisement informing them to put one on.
Drones are also being used for a wide range of applications, such as using thermal imaging to identify people infected with the virus and to safely disinfect contaminated areas.
Private sector is also playing a role. Citizens were being given QR codes indicating their risk level from red (which requires 14 days quarantine) to green – free travel. In Hangzhou, this system is being provided through the Alipay app. Other collaborations include Didi, the transportation app, which has provided data analysis and simulations to aid medical organizations.
Tencent is using its supercomputers to assist researchers, including those at Tsinghua University and the Beijing Institute of Life Sciences, in their search for a vaccine.
Medical technology and moving patient-doctor interactions to a virtual domain is currently used to stifle the spread of a virus. Ping And Good Doctor, which offers online virtual consultations for patients, has reported more than 1.1 billion visits since the outbreak. Very obvious that upon the observation of a range of benefits, starting from saved time on the consultation to the strengthening of a secure digital chain of prescriptions, – we will very soon end up in the world of almost exclusively virtual diagnostics.
Many people are now required to self-quarantine and work from home. They can take advantage of platforms like WeChat Work, Alibaba’s DingTalk, and ByteDance’s Lark and many more, currently available and those that are hastily going into production as the lockdown unfolds.
Although we may be following China in terms of technological solutions, we still have the opportunity to integrate the use of quality applications and platforms in our daily risk management at work and at home, but always considering that each country is different. If we can get anything positive out of the Covid-19 outbreak, it could be learning how we can better implement technology solutions to identify and manage current and future health problems.
We realize the world we wake up in post Covid-19 will be drastically different, and, most likely, more technologically advanced and more technologically autocratic at the same time.
But what about people? Who will you wake up as after the peak of the crisis is gone?
One of the most important and stark outcomes of the current situation will be the clear division of people into those who chose to use this time wisely and those locked down one on one with their fears, anxieties and insecurities.
We will see an increase in obesity, greater social isolation and fear of the future. For this reason, this that we are experiencing invites us to use the time we have in our homes, not to watch Netflix or gain weight due to anxiety, but to study in depth the use of current technologies, learn new relevant skills and work on all the things that make us superior human beings. This might be one in a hundred years such opportunity. Do not squander it on fear and depression!