A plurality of experts predict that sweeping societal change will make life mostly worse for most people as greater inequality, rising authoritarianism and rampant misinformation take hold in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a new report by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and Pew Research Center. Still, a portion believe life will be better in a ‘tele-everything’ world where workplaces, health care and social activity improve.
This report, co-authored by Elon University Professor Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie, Pew Research Internet & Technology director and a member of the Elon School of Communications Advisory Board, is part of their long-running series about the future of the internet. It is based on an opt-in canvassing of technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists who were asked to consider what life will be like in 2025 in the wake of the outbreak of the global pandemic and other crises in 2020. Some 47% said life will be mostly worse for most people in 2025 than it was before the pandemic, while 39% said life will be mostly better for most people in 2025 than it was pre-pandemic; 14% said most people’s lives in 2025 will not be much different from the way things would have turned out if there had been no pandemic.
As these experts pondered what was happening in mid-2020 and the likely changes ahead, some used words like “inflection point,” “punctuated equilibrium,” “unthinkable scale,” “exponential process,” “massive disruption” and “unprecedented challenge.” Among the 86% who expect change, some predicted it could reconfigure fundamental realities such as people’s physical “presence” with others and people’s conceptions of trust and truth. The experts’ comments fell under a number of broad themes describing the ways in which individuals and groups are adjusting in the face of the global crisis and the likely opportunities and challenges emerging as humans accelerate their uses and applications of digital technologies in response to pandemic effects.
Read the 194-page report online, The New Normal in 2025: Far More Tech-Driven, With More Challenges.
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