How can we find the signal when there is so much noise? We don’t have an effective way to predict what will happen next, history tells us that. We do have a way to understand what happened when crisis has occurred in the past. In a piece titled A Post Pandemic Society, I explored the somewhat scary similarities between modern day and the world of a century ago. In a recent Article authored by Robert Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, he takes a similar look at two events during that period.
In this recent Article, author Paul Gillin provides insight on trends and technologies that are likely to be forever transformed by the events of recent months. SiliconAngle asked several technology executives for their thoughts on the topic. Here are the technologies and trends identified.
“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.”
In a virtual roundtable hosted by C-Level on May 14th, we used several polls to gain insight on how people are thinking about the post-pandemic world. The topic of the roundtable was “Rehearsing Post-Pandemic Futures.” You can view a video of the virtual roundtable Here. I posted the results of polls One and Two earlier. You can participate in those polls by visiting the posts. The third poll that we launched during the session probed the question of jobs.
In a virtual roundtable hosted by C-Level on May 14th, we used several polls to gain insight on how people are thinking about the post-pandemic world. The topic of the roundtable was “Rehearsing Post-Pandemic Futures.” I posted the results of the First Poll earlier. You can participate in that poll by visiting the post. The second poll that we launched during the session probed the question of human behavior post-pandemic.
I had the pleasure of participating in a virtual round table hosted by C-Level on May 14th. The topic was “Rehearsing Post-Pandemic Futures.” I did 30 minutes of presentation which included poll questions. It was followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. Vanessa Foser, Chairman of the Board at C-Level AG, was the host and moderator. You can view the virtual roundtable via video below. I will share the various poll results separately in future posts.
One of the perks of my role is the interaction I have with leaders around the world. Thursday of this week, I had the pleasure of participating in a virtual round table hosted by C-Level. The topic was “Rehearsing Post-Pandemic Futures.” I did 30 minutes of presentation which included poll questions. It was followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. I want to share some of the insights of the session over a series of posts – starting with a poll that we positioned at the start of the presentation, and then again at the end.
A recent Article by Bryan Walsh explores the human development enabled by a post-world war two order. To avoid a repeat of the turbulence of the Thirty Year period that began in 1915, this post-war order was established. Institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations (UN), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were formed. Despite an occasional spike of violence, the article reports that the absolute number of people killed in war and conflict has been declining since 1946.
In my ongoing search for signals that point to potential futures, I both stumble upon great insight, or am made aware of it. When it’s the latter, I wrestle with how much to share. I use the value of the insight as my decision criteria, and in the case of this smart city infographic, I am compelled to share. However, this insight (and all other signals) must be viewed through the lens of the current pandemic. What, if anything, is impacted as a result of changes in human behavior? For example, will the projections of mass urbanization hold, or will fear of living in dense areas reverse that trend – essentially serving as an obstacle? Does the city revenue shortfall accelerate the march towards a Next Generation of Productivity? Does a growing appreciation for science shine a light on climate change, thereby accelerating the focus on sustainability?
It’s easy to view the current crisis as a catalyst for change. Lying beneath the surface are signals that major change is required, and when crisis emerges, hope for that change emerges with it. In most cases however, that change never materializes. The last two months have brought countless predictions of what is to come. While we need to consider the low percentage of successful post-crisis predictions in the past, two trends look likely to materialize: accelerated digital transformation, and a rapid path to automation.
COVID-19 continues to expose pre-existing issues. While our human development has undeniably advanced through each phase of the industrial revolution, more work remains to be done. The first industrial revolution delivered mechanization – and yet 600 million people still do not benefit from it. The second revolution brought us sanitation, clean water, and electricity, and yet 3.6 billion people still lack one or more of those innovations. The third revolution brought us the internet and all things digital – and yet 3.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet. This Article by Douglas Broom states that the majority live in poorer countries, where the need to spread information about how to combat COVID-19 is most urgent. The issue was there, now it is likely to get more attention.
In an earlier post on a Post-Pandemic Society, I took a look back in history to a period a century ago. That journey focused on similarities to our current day. That same post summarized a post-pandemic future as viewed through the lens of several global thinkers. Although history provides a guide, and prognosticators a point of view, pandemic Implications will evolve over years and across multiple domains. How the world Responds is yet to be determined – and predictions of major change after past crisis have largely been off the mark. How then do we find the signal through the noise? By Connecting a lot of Dots on an on-going basis.
“The best leaders are constantly learning, curious about where they made mistakes and actively looking for areas where they might have it wrong”
“Every so often, we learn something new that rewrites all of what we have come to know and trust. In those moments, our foundation of knowledge crumbles—and with it, many of the beliefs that we have built on top of it. Those transitions are hard because we do not easily let go of our beliefs”
– Jeff Booth, The Price of Tomorrow
In a recent Forbes Article authored by Stephen Wunker, he uses the principles of innovation adoption to test the stickiness of behavioral changes driven by COVID-19. He applies six tests of a new behavior to see what will last. He states that not all six factors need to be met for a behavior change to persist, but the mutually reinforcing nature of the factors create a stronger impact as more get involved. He applies this framework to assess potential commercial change for the Life Science industry.
A general theme throughout my posts on COVID-19 is that many of the cracks that the pandemic has exposed were already there. This theme is described eloquently by Economist Tyler Cowen in his work on The Great Reset. He uses a metaphor of canaries in coal mines to describe the warning signals that represent greater and broader stress. In the past week, I’ve seen multiple references to dead canaries knee deep in coal mines. In a recent New York Times Article authored by Neil Irwin he echoes this sentiment:
“But one lesson of these episodes of economic tumult is that those surprising ripple effects tend to result from longstanding unaddressed frailties. Crises have a way of bringing to the fore issues that are easy to ignore in good times.”
Amy Webb joined Daniel Levitt on his Inside The Newsroom podcast to discuss various aspects of COVID-19 pandemic. Amy is a quantitative futurist. She interprets data to help governments and businesses plan for the future. She’s written three books — The Big Nine, The Signals Are Talking and Data, a Love Story. In 2006 she founded the Future Today Institute, her consultancy firm that models what the future might look like. Amy also teaches an MBA course on strategic foresight at NYU, is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center, cofounder of Spark Camp and contributing editor and tech columnist and Inc. Magazine, among a host of other notable positions and achievements.
Enjoy the Podcast.
Prior to the pandemic taking over all our cycles, I was focused on assessing how society would react to several emerging scenarios. Using polls, I asked questions about connecting our brains to the Internet, reuniting with a deceased loved one, or attending a hologram concert of a deceased artist. I was suprised by the high percentage of respodents that were against these emerging scenarios. Please participate in those Polls, as I am still interested in your thoughts. More importantly, I have to wonder what COVID-19 does to future responses to these questions. For example, delivery robots were seen as a joke, fad, or nuisance in some places pre-pandemic. According to this Article by Roberto Baldwin, it may be finding a way into public consciousness as an important tool to combat the spread of coronavirus. Delivery robots helped deliver food and medicine in Wuhan China during the coronavirus-related quarantine.
The rapid emergence of new scenarios that once seemed like science fiction serve as a testament to the Acceleration that the world is experiencing in this exponential era. COVID-19 introduces another variable, one that serves both as an accelerant and an obstacle. There are many examples of the virus serving as an accelerant – many of which I have written about over the last several weeks.
The COVID-19 crisis is fast-moving with information bombarding us in real-time. On this Tuesday morning, as we awake to more isolation and rising numbers, there is much to consider across every domain. Some like Enrique Dans are writing about the changes coming to Education. Issues like a drop in school attendance, obsolescence of teaching methods, technology barriers of entry to education, and an aversion to face-to-face interaction are likely to change education as we know it. As it is with every domain, institutions, academic directors, teachers or students who are unable to adapt will simply have no place in this new scenario. As a new normal emerges, educators are likely to revise their teaching methods and evaluation approaches, among other things.
There are many conflicting views emerging on the timing of an economic new normal. Regardless of the source, all of it at some level is speculation. There is too much uncertainty to do prediction justice. That doesn’t mean that talented prognosticators can’t take a shot. This great Article from MIT Sloan Management Review is a must read. Author Alec Levenson argues that it will be a long time until an economic new normal. Some of his rationale is summarized below: