Whenever I come across the writing of Yuval Noah Harari I expect a well written, considered, easy read designed to inspire reflection. I often come to different conclusions to him but enjoy the way I am prompted to think. While this article focuses primarily on how governments can use technology to help or hinder, in this particular epidemic his reference to examples of governments using similar crises to push through technological advancements in population surveillance made me think about the technology that is likely to come out of it in broader terms.
WW1 brought us Air traffic control, pilates and daylight saving time. WW2 was responsible for Radar, Nuclear energy and the aerosol can (the one I use most in my day to day life, yes I know I ought to change to roll on and save the environment). I wonder what will be the outcome of our population in isolation?
As a technology company, we can see some of these changes first hand. I have already heard anecdotally the effectiveness of contract automation systems. As we check in on our clients they are grateful to have technology in place increasing the efficiency of their workforce despite these trying times.
Is this period going to be the tipping point where we see the increase in remote teams? A lot of businesses have been edging in that direction for a while. What will companies have to put in place to forge ahead and stay productive with a workforce finding it ever harder to communicate through traditional means? I am interested to see to what extent existing tech gets adopted and what exciting new solutions emerge during these turbulent times.
We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world.