In exploring a Post Pandemic Society, I first took a look at what we could learn from history. A recent article took a similar view. Written by Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal, Their Look Back at History explores the experience of Japan, the United States, and Western Europe, post-World War Two. The article explores the inclusive growth that was sustained for two decades following the war. As technologies developed for war were adapted for peace-time use, poverty, government debt, and inequality fell, while living standards improved and prosperity spread broadly.
In 2014, I had this to say about the trend of putting a word in front of the word economy and declaring a new era: Something Economy: seems like a popular trend – stick a word in front of economy and use it to describe the next big thing. Some of these words are: Peer, Maker, Sharing, Gig, Collaborative, Green, Circular, Mesh, Digital, Innovation, semantic, and more.
When developing an online leadership course back in 2017, the focus was on the uncertain future that was unfolding. The course took A Journey Through The Looking Glass – a metaphorical expression that means: on the strange side, in the twilight zone, in a strange parallel world. It comes from the Alice and Wonderland literary work of Lewis Carroll, where he explores the strange and mysterious world Alice finds when she steps through a mirror. I have always found this to be a perfect metaphor for our times. Every time the looking glass has appeared, the world has experienced a Tipping Point. While I firmly believe a Tipping Point is coming, the impact is likely a question of severity.
As the world focuses on a global pandemic, remote work has been a popular topic. As reported by Brian Fung, Google just Announced the extension of their remote work policy to July of 2021 – an acknowledgement that the pandemic could be with us a while. Siemens decided to make their policy permanent, but as this Recent Announcement indicates, their approach is very refreshing. Following in the footsteps of others, Siemens is adopting a new model that will allow employees worldwide to work from anywhere they feel comfortable. The permanent standard allows employees to leverage the new model for an average of two to three days a week. This article by Justin Bariso focuses on the refreshing part of the announcement, reflected in this quote by incoming CEO Roland Busch:
I have invested considerable time exploring the tipping points in human history. When I say tipping point, I mean a fundamental change in the nature of being human. As described in my Post on the topic, there were two main tipping points in human history: from hunter-gatherer to agriculture, and agriculture to our industrial society.
Per a recent Article via Bonnie Burton, MIT and Mozilla embarked on an initiative to help us better understand the disturbing power of deepfake videos in a new project called “In Event of Moon Disaster.” The resulting video below combines actual footage from the Apollo 11 mission with the delivery of a speech that Richard Nixon was prepared to deliver if the mission failed. The disturbingly real video used artificial intelligence to make Nixon’s voice and facial movements convincing. The contingency speech (which can be found in National Archives) was read aloud by an actor.
I am a big believer in storytelling. Stories about the future and how it may unfold help us create a future that is both prosperous and sustainable. I have talked about stories in the context of Future Thinking and used a visual to tell these stories and provide a Future Thinking Canvas. A recent Article describes this approach as future-back thinking. The article explores the work of Mark W. Johnson and Josh Suskewicz, co-authors of Lead from the Future: How to Turn Visionary Thinking into Breakthrough Growth.
This research on the likely acceleration driven by the pandemic is a must read. Per their Website, Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas is a full-service, bipartisan government relations firm whose partners and principals have decades of political and policy experience. The presentation is U.S. centric and a little heavy on politics. However, it captures many of the issues that are converging across multiple domains (business, society, science, technology, environment, philosophy, economics, and geopolitics). I believe it captures one of the most impactful aspects of the current COVID-19 crisis: the acceleration of forces that were already in play. It is a quick walk through of the following topics:
My continued research into solutions for some of our most pressing societal issues led me to an incredibility good book that simplifies the concepts behind modern monetary theory. Author J. D. Alt uses visualization to simplify the theory, making how money works easier to understand. His book – Diagrams and Dollars – was recently added to my Book Library. The book’s premise is that we have the way money is created and its flow through the system backwards.
Can we ever go back to the way things were? That’s the question Manon DeFelice asks in a recent Article that explores the return to the office. The article provides some interesting insights. For instance, about 62% of Americans say they have worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Gallup Poll. A majority (59%) of those individuals say that remote work would be welcome post-pandemic. One of the concerns often stated about remote work is the impact on productivity. Well, Ms. DeFelice shares results from a YouGov Survey that found 54% of professionals ages 18-74 felt that working from home has had a positive impact on their productivity.
The phrase “The robots are coming” is often repeated these days. What does their arrival mean for the future of work? That question has short term implications, and the potential for profound long-term impacts. Ask around and you get vastly different perspectives on the question. We seem as polarized on the topic as we are about anything these days. A very good perspective was provided recently in an Article authored by Daphne Leprince-Ringuet. The article explores the possible changes to work as robots become a common feature in the work environment.
Prognosticators continue to point to massive shifts in the aftermath of COVID-19. In this recent Article, author Bhaskar Majumdar explores an aggressive convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Pointing to the domains that have already converged – education and entertainment – Mr. Majumdar sees this phenomenon overwhelming all aspects of our lives. In the near future, he sees it impacting banking, medicine, trade, shopping, dining and sports. As we come to terms with social distancing in a post-COVID world, some level of change is inevitable.
Last week. I posted about modern monetary theory (MMT) and how it challenges conventional wisdom regarding deficits. In her recent book titled The Deficit Myth , Author Stephanie Kelton – Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Stony Brook University – explores the tenets of the theory and its implications to government spending. Progressive agendas aimed at solving the challenges of education, healthcare, climate change and others look at modern monetary theory as a possible solution. In contrast to borrowing money or raising taxes, the monetisation of government expenditure (its financing by the central bank’s creation of money) is costless, in that the government does not have to pay interest on cash.
The attention garnered by MMT has drawn its share of critics. In the interest of understanding both sides of this debate, I read a book titled Modern Monetary Theory and its Critics. The book is a series of essays edited by Edward Fullbrook and Jamie Morgan. As the authors state: in the wake of the decade of fiscal austerity following the Global Financial Crisis, and the apparent exhaustion of standard monetary policy strategies and the ever-increasing income disparity, interest in MMT has grown beyond academia. The skeptics provide a different point of view. As we search for answers to our pressing issues and strive to think differently, it’s prudent that we keep an open mind to these new ways of thinking, while at the same time, understanding their limitations. I recommend the book, which I have added to my Book Library.
A recent Report on artificial intelligence (AI) suggests that COVID-19 is not likely to slow the path of AI. Per the report: nearly three-quarters of businesses now consider AI critical to their success, as it continues to grow in importance across companies of various sizes and industries, according to a new report. Appen Limited’s 2020 State of AI Report indicates that two-thirds of respondents do not expect any negative impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on their AI strategies.
I wrapped up another great book. This one focused on government deficits as viewed through the lens of Modern Monetary Theory. Author Stephanie Kelton addresses the topic in her recent book titled The Deficit Myth. In this best seller, Ms. Kelton – Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Stony Brook University – explores the role of currency issuers (U.S., Japan, U.K., Australia, etc.) versus currency users. From the book:
“The distinction between currency users and the currency issuer lies at the heart of Modern Monetary Theory. And as we will see in the pages ahead, it has profound implications for some of the most important policy debates of our time, such as health care, climate change, Social Security, international trade, and inequality.”
In looking at a Post Pandemic Society, I took a Journey to the 1920s and 1930s to understand what history might tell us about our emerging future. I have been amazed at the eerie similarities between our present day and that period a century ago (see visual below). If anyone is interested in exploring the cycles of history, I highly recommend the book The Fourth Turning. In the meantime, this recent Article explores a similar comparison to that time in history with a focus on deglobalization. Per the article:
“The post-pandemic world economy seems likely to be a far less globalized economy, with political leaders and the public rejecting openness in a manner unlike anything seen since the tariff wars and competitive devaluations of the 1930s.”
In a post from the summer of 2019, I explored the notion of an Augmented Age: a future where our natural human capabilities are radically augmented in three ways: Computational systems will help us think. Robotic systems will help us make. And a digital nervous system will connect us to the world far beyond what our natural nervous system can offer. Fast-forward to a world altered by COVID-19: Are we on an accelerated path to augmentation and automation? This recent Forbes Article takes an interesting look at the question from the perspective of lights out factories.
A recent article on the Future of Medicine explores the emerging Wellness Ecosystem and the impact that COVID-19 is likely to have on its path. The key message from the article and associated video below is that Connected Health has a greater opportunity for realization. The pandemic has proven that virtual ways of working and telemedicine can work. The video examines the role of artificial intelligence, 5G, Sensors, and data in the progression towards a personalized health ecosystem.
I just finished a new book released by Fast Future. The book is a compilation of post-pandemic scenarios authored by Futurists around the world. Aftershocks and Opportunities: Scenarios for a Post-Pandemic Future takes a look at both the challenges and opportunities introduced by COVID-19. Due to the number of responses from global futurists, a second book is in the works. I’ve added this one to my Book Library. An abstract is included below.