The Blessing and Curse of Technology during the Corona Virus Pandemic
This is certainly not the first or the last time that humanity has had to fend off a viral pandemic. We have been faced with Bird Flu, SARS, Ebola, smallpox, polio and the list goes on. Some with higher rates of transmission and higher fatality. Yet this time it seems to be different. There is far more widespread panic than ever before. While the jury is still out as to whether the panic is warranted or not, there is no doubt that technology is to blame for disseminating the fear and misinformation that is so ubiquitous on the internet.
The ability for anybody (including me b.t.w.) to provide their opinion on the current status quo and their predictions for the future spread is creating major wide spread panic. The use of technology is certainly assisting in both a positive and negative manner. The number of people on social media is estimated to be around 3 billion worldwide. While this is a great way of disseminating information, it’s also a great way to spread fake news, false statistics and panic. This has ranged from blaming the virus outbreak on the roll-out of 5G networks in China to products claiming to provide 100% protection against the virus (Coronavirus: Fake news is spreading fast https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51646309 ).
On a positive note, technology also has the potential to save humanity from this pandemic as well. Social media here can be seen as a positive means of disseminating information globally in a matter of seconds. So factual information as well as guidelines can reach millions of people effectively.
Companies are able to use social distancing to reduce the risk of contracting the virus, through
remote working technologies like video conferencing, cloud technology and high bandwidth to homes. There is no doubt that this will reduce the spread. Companies who have moved to the cloud are able to access their systems and data from anywhere in the world. At Kaskade we could move the entire business in a matter of minutes, be it down the road to a new office, home or even another country, as all of our systems are in the cloud (including our switchboard). Now is a great time to put these measures in place, migrate your systems to the cloud and ensure you have redundancy in place.
At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are hard at work at creating a vaccine against the coronavirus using machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions to identify infections and find the solution. Robots with AI are being used to disinfect infections areas, while thermal scanning technology is being used at airports to prevent people with fevers from infecting others (https://venturebeat.com/2020/03/03/how-people-are-using-ai-to-detect-and-fight-the-coronavirus/) . Official statistics and tracking of the virus globally is also being done using artificial intelligence (https://abcnews.go.com/Health/doctors-artificial-intelligence-track-coronavirus-outbreak/story?id=69444963)
As always, any technology can be a double edged sword. If used incorrectly it can create a lot of damage, but used effectively there is some much to gain. The solution lies in being a smart human, using ones human intelligence to view any articles, opinions, statistics with a degree of scepticism. Do not just forward on WhatsApp messages without verifying the source and information first. Don’t spread unnecessary fear through social media unless you have personally verified the information.
We should all take heed of the Latin phrase “caveat emptor” which means “reader beware”, now more than ever.