Blasting Into A Contactless Future


“Against the backdrop of a two-century period of faster and faster transformation, the coronavirus is compressing and further accelerating the arc of events”Steve LeVine

That quote from a recent Article via Steve LeVine captures what is happening very well. History warns us that predicting what happens post-crisis is wrought with peril. As the article states, in the 16th and 17th centuries, smallpox, measles, and other diseases brought by the Spanish wiped out up to 90% of the South and Central American population, utterly transforming the historic order. But the global flu pandemic of 1918 to 1919 appeared to establish no new norms. Mr. LeVine posits that Covid-19 appears to be a hybrid in impact — vastly speeding up some trends while dispelling others. A quote by Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, captures it well: “Such acceleration is a natural byproduct of crises like pandemics, which tend to jolt the current system.”

One such jolt to the system may come in the way humans interact. Several examples are provided in the article. At the macro-level, fear is a strong motivator. Human InteractionIf in the aftermath of the pandemic, humans remain wary of contact, then an acceleration towards a contactless future is likely. Even if fear-oriented scenarios do not materialize, there are other drivers. One such driver is referenced in the article. The fear that coronavirus may lurk on any surface has prompted airports to deploy a new level of security including thermal cameras. If we thought travel was a hassle prior to the crisis, we can be assured of very long lines once people resume flying. Clear, a touchless entry solution, had already emerged as a hands-free way to navigate the airport. Their iris and face scans will accelerate the path through airport security.

COVID-19 is accelerating these contactless solutions. For example, Clear is among a number of companies that have begun to offer similar services to office buildings. This raises the likelihood of biometric entrance to many or most of the places people frequent. However, this acceleration also raises the concerns associated with surveillance capitalism. Contactless interfaces amplify those concerns, while enhancing the opportunity for hackers. In a recent virtual round table, I asked the surveillance question. Here are the responses from participants.

Surveillance State

Innovation has always taken two paths: enhancing our society or diminishing it. As we accelerate towards new forms of interaction, we face the same two paths. What do you think about the acceleration towards a surveillance state? Take the poll below and provide your insights.

For additional thoughts on the pandemic, see my previous posts.

FEATUREDA Post Pandemic Society

18 thoughts on “Blasting Into A Contactless Future

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