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Stay Prepared to Adjust to the Unexpected Effects of the Pandemic on Technology

If there’s anything we’ve learned from our recent brush with COVID-19, it’s that you need to be agile. A disruption like the pandemic has immediate, apparent impacts. But those give rise to second-order effects and create ripples downstream.

For instance, the threat of infection forced most people indoors. But the fear of contact and crowded spaces also made it more attractive to drive. And the suddenly empty streets in major cities leads to increased speeding and more accidents. In retrospect, this makes auto insurance more vital than ever. But car owners really should be seeing to that in any case.

There are many other ways in which the pandemic might continue to give rise to unexpected changes. While you can’t foresee all possibilities, being aware of what’s trending can help you make quick adjustments. Here are some potential, emerging ways technology might change and how you can respond:

Positive technology

The influence of social media dominated the years before the pandemic. Influencers were replacing celebrity endorsers. Brands invested considerably in marketing efforts across the major platforms.

The over-exposure of social media also brought a growing awareness of its potential downsides. Cyber-bullying and the spread of misinformation became significant issues. People started to realize that social media influences could lead to status anxiety and low self-esteem.

Our relationship with technology was called into question. The pandemic magnified that concern by shifting our lives online. With our face-to-face interactions limited, we could only turn to technology as a means for keeping in touch.

The unexpected development out of this trend is called ‘positive technology.’ It refers to the intentional use of social media, virtual reality, and video games to enhance our personal experience. And it could mark a turning point in our overall relationship with technology.

Instead of seeing devices and platforms as a means to an end, we can now permit ourselves to embrace them for psychological relief. Go ahead and play games, or hang out on social media; it might be saving your mental health.

Conversational AI

With the outbreak of a highly contagious and poorly understood disease, many people could have foreseen that healthcare workers would soon be facing a lot of pressure. And to a certain extent, many institutions were able to shore up their logistics and prepare their personnel for the crisis.

But nothing could prepare the healthcare system for a situation of this magnitude. Thus, medical professionals have leveraged AI for all the help they can get. And in the process, it might become permanently integrated into our healthcare operations.

Conversational AI is being deployed to help overwhelmed healthcare workers and medical call centers. The technology currently allows a cognitive assistant to assess your current symptoms for the risk of Covid-19 without involving contact. With further improvements, it could be the default method in which we interact with healthcare professionals. Get accustomed to that idea, and practice presenting your symptoms concisely and logically.

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Data protection

Concern for health and safety led us to shift our lives online. Those whose jobs permitted were able to work from home. Most people certainly increased their online shopping activity.

Amid all this additional virtual bustle, cybercriminals saw an opportunity. People were spending so much time online that their devices were vulnerable. The next development was a focused effort by companies and IT professionals to step up their measures for cybersecurity.

Moving forward, the need for better data protection won’t be going away. Governments and large-scale organizations will be looking to use biometrics and machine learning for better verification. It will strain the lack of regulation when it comes to data privacy. Your best move right now? Learning to take control of your digital footprint and following best practices when it comes to cybersecurity.

Education technology

Just as employees have taken to remote working, students have also resorted to distance learning to deal with the pandemic. But many schools have since reopened, and teachers have long been wary of adopting education technology tools in their formal instruction.

The classroom still provides a stimulating learning environment where students can learn from social interactions with their peers and teachers. It might not be going away anytime soon, but it can be effectively supplemented by technology.

Data-driven learning can still be used as we move back into a more traditional educational framework. It helps us to identify the specific needs of individual learners. Instead of relying on one teacher to handle all the needs of dozens of students, these insights can allow parents and adult learners to take charge. They can serve as a starting point for continued learning in one’s spare time.

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