In March 2013, when the Covid-19 crisis became the dominant narrative, I wrote a fairly lengthy piece on The Great Transformation and what our world could look like, backcasting from late 2020. Some of my observations have panned out pretty well, other ones are still in the making (such as the future of the U.S. – On that note be sure to read my new and pretty daring piece on ‘2021 will bring the great American pivoting). Since then, many of you have requested a shorter take on the ‘with/post-corona future), so here, below, it is, updated on October 20, 2020. One thing I changed is the designation of the era we are living in, from post-corona future to with-corona future as that is our new reality (no, sorry, we are not going back to ‘normal‘).
Covid-19 is a great accelerator: anything that was nascent before and that has proven to be of strong value during the crisis (working from home, webinars, e-commerce, remote learning, localised tourism etc), is here to stay.
Please visit my PostCoronaFuture hub (weekly updates!), and watch my short film on the impact of Covid19 (also embedded below), and visit my new ‘uncut / full-length keynote videos' page. Read my latest Forbes.com contribution on my key learnings from Covid-19.
Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around (Milton Friedman).
So here are some of my ideas that are ‘lying around’!!
1. Healthcare will once again become a public matter and government responsibility, and in many regions of the world the spread of privatized healthcare will be reversed (yes, in the U.S. … in 2021). Investments in healthcare, particularly in bio-technologies, will skyrocket. Millions of new jobs will result. Complex ethical challenges will emerge, related to ‘big data', tracking & surveillance, AI/IA and human genome editing.
2. The fossil fuel industries (oil, gas and coal) will increasingly become burning platforms, even faster than before. Institutional divestment from fossil fuels is reaching record heights and and there's a huge influx of new money going into sustainable energy, and support on what the WEF calls ‘nature positive solutions‘. This could generate millions of new jobs – if we are putting enough funding behind it. Big Green is coming, warp-drive!
3. ‘Big-Tech’ will be even further entrenched in our daily habits and rituals (remote/tele everything), but the industry will also be increasingly challenged on its ethics, values and responsibilities. ‘Too-much-of-a-good-thing’ will become the key challenge and regulation debates will rage. Will it be humanity on-top of technology or should we really seek to ‘transcend human limitations‘? (Watch ‘Social Dilemma‘ on Netflix).
4. During and after this crisis, wide-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 wicked problem.
5. Once we actually enter a ‘post-corona' era, new global travel rules will include the medical vetting of long-distance travellers and the universal enforcement of carbon taxes. 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). And I will fly to Beijing or Rio… in a holographic room at Zurich Airport.
6. Remote and tele-working (Cloud-Working), virtual meetings and digital conferencing will become an established everyday habit, catalysing the convergence of work and home and requiring the rapid adaptation of our pre-corona social contracts and the traditional logic of social security (watch my film HowTheFutureWorks, below!)
7. Global hyper-collaboration goes into warp-drive, pioneered by the scientific communities during the early days of the crisis, and soon to be fuelled by a vast influx of public funding of scientific collaboration platforms to prepare for the coming challenges of the next pandemics, AGI, geo-engineering and human genome editing.
8. I foresee that in 2021, ‘strong-man‘ and populist politicians harking back to a vanished past will be ousted or sidelined, and that a new generation of foresightful leaders (millennials and females) will take their place. However, at the same time staunchly autocratic regimes are likely to seek to expand their power over their citizens using the crisis as an excuse for maintaining dragonian surveillance measures. Thus, Covid19 may inadvertently also facilitate the spread of authoritarianism – where such a tendency existed before the crisis (possibly in countries like Hungary and Poland?)
9. Because of Covid-19, the European Union is forced (as well newly authorised) to think and act as a truly united region – the United States of Europe will emerge much quicker than anticipated, and after the 2020 U.S. elections Europe will HOPEFULLY have a better relationship with the U.S. again.
10. Post-Corona, conventional capitalism that prioritised owners and shareholders at the expense of everything/one else (including a proper public healthcare system) will shrivel, and more inclusive and sustainable economic models will gaining traction – sustainable capitalism is finally on the horizon. Read this.
11. How we manage our agricultural ecosystems and food supplies will change dramatically, with a new emphasis on self-sufficiency, local supply and vegetarian diets. And yes, the carbon tax on meat is coming, as well.
12. Because of what we learned during this crisis, human-only attributes, human-to-human interactions, tacit knowledge, EQ (not IQ) and what I call the Androrithms (the opposite of algorithms) will be increasingly more important than logic, data, algorithms and ‘machine intelligence’. Because: Whatever is easy for a human is hard for a computer, and nice versa (the Moravec Paradox)