The recent pandemic concerning Covid-19 has taught us many lessons, on a global scale.
What has provoked my thinking most has to do with the “digital revolution”. New technologies are transforming so much of our lives every day. One technology, in particular, continues to capture headlines constantly, i.e., artificial intelligence.
Two realities emerge from the pandemic in terms of digital technology: one positive and one negative.
The positive aspect stemming from the pandemic has to do with the drastic increase in digital communication. Not being to meet personally or congregate as groups, we have been forced to communicate through digital means. The year 2020 will be known as the year of Zoom, Webex, Meets and so on. It will be remembered as the year in which Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, became the richest person on the planet. The digital giants grew even more because of the various lockdowns around the globe. Covid has taught us that “smart working” can (and will) replace so many dimensions of the normal work force: so much, that we will probably never return to how things were before. Software companies are selling their physical buildings because they no longer will use them. Twitter has announced that all of their employees can work from home even after the state of emergency has been lifted.
The negative aspect coming from the experience of the pandemic has shown us the limits of digital technology. New technologies are not our present-day Messiahs. Just how a tiny, invisible clump of molecules wreaked havoc on the world boggles the mind. For all of our know-how and technological progress, an infinitely small virus taught us that we are still in the infant stage when it comes to biological organisms. Our finest minds and greatest scientists have not come up with an instant and effective cure. Conquering this virus will take time, just like all things which are truly human. There are simply no quick remedies and effortless solutions. Our bodies are not biological machines: they are so much more and so much more complex. So many promises and predictions have not panned out, and we are forced to recognize our fragile, yet supremely unique, biological make-up.
Philip Larrey, Ph.D.