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The future, accelerated - 13 post Covid-19 predictions
by Prof. Mark K. Smith

Only idiots predict the future, so here goes….

I compared Covid-19 to 410AD in a recent post, but not because it was the prelude to a new Dark Age but rather the reverse, that we have been sleepwalking for decades into an apocalyptic future with no regard for what we are damaging in the process, and Covid-19 might lead to a new age of enlightenment. It’s been an amazing experience so far.

Yes I know many have died – and that is awful – every death is sad, but death and taxes are as inevitable as the sun rising every morning, so setting that aside – what does a post-Covid-19 world look like?

1. No growth economies will become the norm

We have just the one planet, we have just the one atmosphere, we have just the one set of natural resources to use. The economic madness of continuous growth will stop. It doesn’t make sense. An economy should seek zero growth, not up, not down – but enough. I’ve got enough. You’ve probably got enough as well. Enough is enough.

2. Working from Home

Covid-19 has decimated the suppliers of oil and gas and the consumers of oil and gas. Turns out working from home is better than commuting – paying (twice – the ticket plus the fact that, in the UK anyway, that ticket is paid from ‘post-taxed’ income – as it’s a ‘benefit in kind’! No, it ruddy well is not) to waste time and resources to go to an office is bonkers. In 12 months’ time, a third of us will still be working from home.

3. Local power production

The power needed to work from home is minimal – your laptop uses about 50 watts of electricity, the equivalent of 0.05 kWh. Use it for a day and it costs about 5p. I predict that governments will stop being silly and building massive infrastructure projects – like railways, airports, motorways and the like, and turn to renewable power – wind, wave, solar. Planning laws will make for zero carbon new builds.

4. Real social networking

Social media influencers have no one to impress at home now do they? I read about a man whose actual job was to take a £10k hand bag to events and post photos about it. What?? Are we insane? What I am now seeing is a street full of people applauding people who are doing actual jobs - saving our lives and risking their own. I predict less narcissism and more real social networking as we realise that social isolation for a social creature is mostly awful and we will hug our neighbours, not insta them.

5. The end of the high street as we know it

PC (Pre Covid), less than 10% of us did ‘online’ shopping’. AC (After Covid), 90% of us will – why did we waste our time doing anything else? It’s crazy. So what will happen to the high street? Well we will pave it over, stop cars driving through it and live there – because we now love our neighbours and want a coffee, cake and a beer with them. High Street behemoths will disappear, and we will return to an artisan culture where every high street does not look the same.

6. Politics will stop being confrontational

Here’s weird. Politicians have to lie. Reporters have to lie. A politician who says ‘really I have not got a clue’ would be hung out to dry. So reporters goad and goad until their victim just answers a different question or just smiles. AC means politicians can say what they want, pause, and then one at a time a reporter can ask a question and the politician can give them a considered answer. Bearpit politics is over. Good. So now, journalists - stop snapping at their heels and go do what you should be doing and call our leaders to account for things they are not doing. They are not gods, they make mistakes and mostly they are just doing their best. Write nice stuff, stop being horrid, but shine a powerful light on the corrupt and the incompetent.

7. Conspicuous consumption will be the new drink driving

If you spend as much money on a watch as at average family spends on food for a year – go and take a long hard look at yourself. Having an expensive car does not make you a nicer person, no one is impressed (apart from other expensive car owners). Covid-19 kills at random. There really are no pockets in a shroud. If you are rich, that comes with responsibility – do what Bill and Melinda Gates do? Spend it on humanity. Most shocking discovery of Covid-19 for me? After the US threatened to pull funding from the WHO – I found out who their top three donors were. Yup, the US were first (thank you) my country, the UK, was third (thank you), but The Gates Foundation was second. I love that man and that woman for doing that. Good on you, Bill and Mel.

8. Taxation will become fairer

I’m all for progressive taxation. The more someone earns the more they should pay. Those that earn the least need to make some contribution to things like education and especially healthcare but the richest need to pay the most because they can only be rich because others are poor. AC though – society will need to think long and hard about how it pays back the gigantic debt pile that it needed to get us ALL through. I for one expect to pay more. It will hurt, but if I’m still paying taxes it means I’m not dead. So I’ll suck it up.

9. Corporations will become fairer

And pay their taxes. The thing is, if you are quietly benefitting massively from an increase in delivered things, your clouds are seeing a surge in usage and your lovely call centre as a service is booming, then PAY YOUR DUES. Paying direct tax of 2% on your UK earnings isn’t right, is it Jeff? Ask Bill, he’ll explain why. Play fair.

10. New non-profit corporations will emerge

Here’s an interesting fact for you, there is a massive charity in the UK that mostly works with children that has a huge pension deficit. So every £1 you donate around 30p goes to the pension of ex-employees. Weird huh? I predict a new non-profit will emerge through tech – whereby the technology is the ‘people’ and the ‘people’ don’t need a pension. So the tech makes the profit and the profit is used to make more of the tech. If you want to know what I mean ask me – I have one lined up and you never know, it might help save the world.

11. Healthcare will become big Gov’s #1 priority

Bill called this right about 5 years ago, a pandemic was due and what did we do – we spent all our money on weapons, weapons built to kill, mmmmmm ourselves. Imagine if you were studying a group of chimps in Africa, having mastered the stick, the pointed stick, the shield, the cave, the roof, the fire, the forge, the wheel… they went a bit quiet, hid for a while on their new stand-alone savanna based ‘cave’ and wheeled out a small ‘bomb’ shaped thing. ‘What’s that for, Cheeta?’, you might have asked, ‘Oh it’s so we can kill everything, but don’t worry we’ll never use it’. Oh dear, that is what Homo idioticus did instead of spending a little time thinking of a cure for a viral pandemic. So next prediction, us chimps will rethink and have a go at making us all well again. Best huh?

12. Biodiversity will rise up the agenda

David Attenborough has a right to be fairly pissed off. For the last 100 years, Saint Dave has shown us the incredible beauty of the planet we share with loads of other beings. But over that 100 years we have been smashing this fragile museum up. Worse than an ancient asteroid, we have driven at least 680 vertebrate species to extinction in the blink of a celestial eye. We kill things before we even name them. So with bird song now audible above road noise, the canals of Venice clear and the pollution maps of the world showing clean air, maybe, just maybe, we will realise that we are part of an ecosystem and if we set fire to it, we set fire to ourselves.

13. Veganism will become mainstream

Meat is murder.

Don’t.

Ask a Pangolin why.

He knows.

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