How will the way we live look different in the wake of the pandemic?
We don’t yet know the answer – and, in some respects, we don’t even know the right questions to ask. That’s why we’ve been surveying dozens of global thought leaders, doers and thinkers for our special Unknown Questions series, in which we’re unearthing the biggest questions we should be asking as we move toward a post-pandemic society.
In this edition, we look at how the virus will continue to change the way we live – from the way we build and live in cities to how we move between countries and continents.
[EXCERPTS] Tony Wheeler: Co-Founder, Lonely Planet
Will only the wealthy be able to travel?
When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, I keep repeating baseball player and philosopher Yogi Berra’s wise advice that “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
In the travel game, it’s tough even to understand what’s going on in the present. Some countries (Australia) won’t let people out, other countries (America) won’t let people in, even when they’re coming from a place with a better virus story. Or you can leave (the UK) and go somewhere else (the list changes daily) only to find (typically at 4 a.m.) all sorts of restrictions on your return.
Audrey Azoulay: Director-General, Unesco
How will AI shape our lives post-Covid?
Covid-19 is a test like no other. Never before have the lives of so many people around the world been affected at this scale or speed.
Over the past six months, thousands of AI innovations have sprung up in response to the challenges of life under lockdown. Governments are mobilising machine-learning in many ways, from contact-tracing apps to telemedicine and remote learning.
However, as the digital transformation accelerates exponentially, it is highlighting the challenges of AI. Ethical dilemmas are already a reality – including privacy risks and discriminatory bias.
It is up to us to decide what we want AI to look like: there is a legislative vacuum that needs to be filled now. Principles such as proportionality, inclusivity, human oversight and transparency can create a framework allowing us to anticipate these issues.
Ezekiel Emanuel: Member, Biden-Harris Covid-19 Advisory Board and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania
What will we be craving in a post-pandemic world?
There are three clear legacies from the Covid-19 pandemic. They all derive from the unnatural and unpleasant circumstances imposed by the pandemic and the necessary public health responses.
First, we all want security. The pandemic has filled us with uncertainty and insecurity. The natural response is to want security. This means security in having an income, child care, family leave and other things necessary to care for your family during a pandemic. Every country will have to critically evaluate its social safety net and shore it up.
Michael Banissy: Professor of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
How will we socialise?
Social interaction affects many areas of our lives impacting on the workplace, home life and many day-to-day activities. In many cases, one of the biggest predictors of mental and physical health is the quality of social relationships.
For me, the big questions linked to the pandemic therefore relate to how we can support social interaction as we move forward.