It’s lockdown period across the world! As I sit on the couch watching the pandemic unfolding across the globe on the idiot box, it’s seems surreal, almost like a Hollywood movie which I know is going to end soon.
And end it will, it definitely will. It may take weeks or may be months before the outbreak tapers off. What it may leave in its trail will be a human race weakened by the fear of infection and economic destruction. Beyond “flattening the curve” & getting the economy sputtering again, that is the big worry for thinkers and policy makers everywhere.
Will the human race be able to overcome this sudden strike at the very heart of our way of living? Well, hasn’t the world seen so many previous pandemics & survived, we ask ourselves. There have been & they have all taken a terrible toll. It took countries decades to get back on their feet. In ancient times, entire civilisations have been known to be wiped off. Well it seems grim then, is it?
May be not. As the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said while announcing the Coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.
It’s certainly troubling that so many people and countries have been affected, so quickly.
Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real.
But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled.
The bottom line is: we are not at the mercy of this virus.
So while governments & administrators (with their army of healthcare professionals, essential services distributors, police personnel, etc.) do all they can to protect people, a frenzied race is also on to find a drug & a vaccine for the disease. There is also a parallel race to find solutions to lead our professional lives efficiently in the Post Covid 19 world. A world where we may fear going to overcrowded places, board overcrowded buses & trains, go to restaurants, go to those sprawling malls every weekend, leave our children at schools, play areas & avoid airports completely..the list goes on & on. Social distancing, personal hygiene, remote working – all of these are truths that we now have to live with. And make others do it as well. For the sake of everyone. So how do we manage at work? And we will definitely need to start working and at efficiency levels as previously if not more. A Catch 22 situation. Caught between the devil and the deep sea.
Technologists believe that Bots will provide the way forward for most economies. Now what are these Bots & how can they help humans bring back the economic growth that they have become so used to.
The Bot technology would take off exponentially with chatbots & voice bots & lead to early stage “robots” becoming part of daily life. And because chatbots are already developed and used by organizations, the immediate adoption of chatbots & voice bots to do repetitive tasks is a foregone conclusion. These bots would do tasks like answer all the frequently asked questions in a natural humanised way, help support customers, employees, students, etc., enable transactions, show us nearby locations to visit on emergencies, also make available other emergency services for us & transfer to an actual human only when the need arises. Businesses are going to adopt this rapidly to ensure improvement in productivity and profitability as they grapple to safeguard their employees and business operations.
Equipment manufacturers would start putting more M2M (machine to machine) interactions & build robotic machines. Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Natural Language Understanding and a whole host of new technologies just got a booster dose. Adoption of these would now be swift & rapid. Software companies would standardize it as commodities and roll it off the blocks in a massive way and we will see a world lapping it up.
We are already seeing glimpses of it in the way governments are communicating to large masses of people by giving them authentic information through the right channels and thereby controlling the infection spread. We see healthcare institutions starting to use it and make these bots the first responders so that they can manage the huge burden of incoming patients. We see the world of banking, insurance and financial services moving to adopt it & adoption by the BFSI industry should be an early indication of how things would pan out as they are early movers and also ensure that these new systems and software come with requisite security and privacy safeguards. We also see a trend of chains of small businesses like grocery stories, vegetable & meat marts, pharmacies, etc. enthusiastic about exploring such options. Studies suggest that 30% of all tasks by organisations can be taken by this the new task force – Bots.
Thus the reel to real life transformation is in all probability coming true. A lot of science fiction stuff is going to come to life. We will be talking more and more to bots, making them do tasks for us & freeing up our time to pursue more important goals – like saving the human race from the next pandemic!!