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We have always known that the future of our work will look dramatically different from the present. What we did not know is that the global pandemic would pave much of the groundwork for this future’s arrival.
While trends are known to come and go, it is not often you see the economy come full circle. Over 100 years ago, before the turn of the century and the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the notion of a salary was not commonplace. Some estimate that as little as 10% of workers had one, the rest of the population surviving off what we would now refer to as the ‘gig economy’.
What if instead of going to the shops, the shops came to you? For years, the idea of ‘going shopping’ has been understood as a kind of event; shops have been considered a destination for outings, socialising and buying, and a source of retail therapy. However, changes on the social and technological scene in the last decade are now seeing the retail experience evolve into something that renders the idea of ‘going shopping’ almost outdated.
When the world was in deep lockdown last year, a major trend that dominated social media surrounded people’s memories of ‘normal’ life. Clips of life before lockdown boasted scenes of exotic travel locations, shots of passports in hand, bustling crowds, concerts, festivals and interestingly, cinemas.
One example of this trend that circled platforms like TikTok in particular, promised to take viewers back to pre-COVID life as it played the familiar sounds of popular cinema ads, shots of popcorn and dimmed lights, and the famed 20th Century Fox intro.
However, coinciding with this was the seeming demise of cinemas and theatres with the proliferation of streaming services and the accelerating effects of lockdown on these trends. Platforms like this proved to be an unforeseen plot twist in the standing film industry narrative.
‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.’ We have all heard the adage, so much so that it is often dismissed as a cliché.
While most of us know this statement and agree with the philosophy behind it, the reality is that very few teachers and schools genuinely involve students in learning and make education active. Despite John Dewey’s urging over a century ago to embrace experiential education and abandon the model of students being passive receivers of learning, the ‘expounding’ approach persists.
We often think of emerging technology as the field of high-level businesspeople and Silicon Valley tech wizards. We don’t often see today’s innovations as being a tool for enhancing accessibility, increasing affordability and empowering equality.
However, recent developments have seen it do just this. Here are 3 fields in which technology is making everyday life more affordable and more accessible for the everyday consumer.
Recent years have seen the topic of bias surge in news, procedure and legislation. It is now common knowledge that we each have a level of unconscious bias, which we must take into account in decision making processes. Movements of last decade have centralised the need to undo the injustices that prevail in our society and awareness of the needs of minority groups has significantly grown.
However, coinciding with this surge of knowledge and pursuit of equality has been our ever-increasing development of technology. Artificial Intelligence is appearing across all industries, spheres and processes. Despite achieving unprecedented levels of efficiency, productivity and speed, it is also bringing with it the biases of the society it serves. At the same rate that our awareness of injustice increases, the technology we are creating threatens to perpetuate it.
In the mid-1960s, Dr Martin Luther King Jr suggested that the primary goal of education ought to be two things: teaching students to think deeply, and to think with discernment. These two essential ingredients, he argued, were the key to building both intelligence and character. Beyond this, Dr King knew that these skills were the antidote to the biases and bigotry fuelling the racism of America at the time.
Fast forward 60 years, to the first month of 2021, and the danger of ignorance is again painfully clear. The last year has brought us the chaos of misinformation more than any other year before. The media information surrounding COVID alone brought dozens of conflicting messages, all of them amplified within a context of panic in which even officials struggled to effectively deal with this unprecedented issue.
Britain’s first female Member of Parliament, Lady Astor, once observed: “The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change nothing – or everything.”
As events have unfolded this year, the word ‘pivot’ has emerged as a description of the moves necessary in business, society and individual lives to adapt to uncertain times. It is an appropriate word choice to describe these movements, especially as it depicts a motion that adapts its direction, while remaining rooted in one spot. It is clear that in times of crisis, the fundamental need for businesses is the ability to pivot.
While it may certainly seem like a crisis and a pivot of this scale are unique to this year, businesses have been adapting and moving with uncertain times since their beginning.