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The Corona Virus The World’s First test for the digital age

While the global population is on quarantine, sitting out the corona virus wave, it has given us the time to realize that humans are the weakest link both in terms of illness, viruses, but also in terms of trust. Today we cannot trust ourselves with those we love, we ask ourselves are we carrying the virus and not feelings symptoms, or is he or she sick or well? How can I be sure?

This is happening in the era of digitization. Digitization is both a blessing and a challenge.

Let’s start with digitization as a blessing. The countries that are most digitized will be less effected by the onslaught of the virus. For example if countries had a central bank digital currency on the blockchain, then people would have no need to use cash ( which could be infected) or go to a bank ATM or even touch a card. The CBDC would be sitting in their wallet on their phone and could be used to make payments and purchase goods and services, as well as finalize any transaction with the government without the need of stamps or face to face paper pushing but with a click of a button and a digital signature or QR Code or just the fact that it is on the blockchain and cannot be undone.

If our economies and governments were truly digitized they would be using technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and the data that is analyzed to most probably quarantine the population with the highest percentage of risk and then just allow the virus to reap havoc among the strong and create the so called herd immunity.

If countries were more digitized manufacturing would not have stopped because robots would be doing the job, Artificial Intelligence would be ensuring it was done right and productively. Blockchain would be allowing the supply chain, and trade finance chain  and finally ecommerce chain to run smoothly and automatically without the need for human intervention. Internet of things would ensure that all these sectors and would be connected and communicating with each other without the need of any human intervention. One machine could request spare parts from a factory in China, which would be sent, and installed by drones and robots.

With self-driving vehicles for example people would be able to go and come without putting themselves or others such as the driver at risk. With flying delivery drones as well, quarantine families and individuals would be able to receive groceries and food deliveries without fearing putting at risk the deliverer or themselves.

More importantly in the healthcare sector, robotic nurses and doctors could actually be caring for the sick ensuring that no doctor catches the virus, such as today you have robotic arms that carry out surgeries with doctors sitting across the globe in a comfortable room with a computer and simulation screen in front of them.

Even student and teachers could still be learning and teaching through online means instead of having to take a halt and wait out the pandemic. Even most employees, if their companies were truly digitized, and their networks and communication tools were efficient enough could be working from home.

But with all this talk about corona, and the benefits of digitization, we have come to a cross road of sorts. The true question that this pandemic has posed is what we will do with our time when the world becomes truly digitized, when we no longer are needed for all these jobs, not because corona is in the air but because digitization has taken over most of the functions and jobs that people used to do.

While governments today grapple with economic recession as a result of corona virus, with stimulant packages being offered here and there to avoid the economic downfall, what will they offer their citizens when 70 percent if not more are no longer needed in the workforce? Many governments have been meeting, either in World Economic Forum or G20, and have discussed what they call universal salaries and the effects of globalization on economies and societies. Will we eventually be offered universal salaries and how?

In the end the biggest change, the biggest question we face is what will we do with all our spare time? What will we do when we are not running around trying to make ends meet? Will we become more artistic, imaginative, innovative or will we sit and rot out of boredom and lack of purpose?

Corona has done more than placed us into quarantine, or killed people we care about. It has done more than make us realize how globally connected we really are and how digital the world needs or might become? It has made us think of what will we do when we sit with our families, and have no need to go out into the market or have a job. 

Lara Abdul Malak

Lara has been a journalist and writer in the technology field since her graduation from AUB majoring in political science. She has had career in corporation communications in the telecom sector and was part of the launch of first 3G network in the GCC and MENA region. Since her return to journalism she has been focused with passion on blockchain, tokenization, crypto focusing on the GCC and MENA region.

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