"Creativity and intelligence multiplied results in technology"
What is the corona crisis doing to us as humans? And what will we keep when everything is over? Ana Campos spoke to the renowned futurologist Georges T. Roos about this (the interview took place in April 2020).
Ana Campos spoke with Georges T. Roos
What opportunities does the current situation offer as a new "reality" for all of us?
Our schools, government offices and also companies are learning at a tremendous pace how digitization can be put to good use. I think that even after the acute phase of the crisis, “blended learning” will be used much more frequently from secondary school upwards. Companies recognize the benefits of partially unbundling work from time and place. Society will discover which things can be done much easier online.
What will the "world after corona" look like in your eyes?
It will take a long time before we are back to normal again. Vulnerable people in particular will also need special protection over a long period of time. The healthy population will get tested often. How deep the economic crisis will be is still open and very much depends on further developments. On the positive side, many initiatives and innovations that were introduced during the crisis will remain after corona: clothing boutiques that have set up an online shop out of necessity have the chance to expand their customer base; yoga teachers have learned how to record lessons on video and make them available for use at home.
Your colleague Matthias Horx thinks that the idea of technology as a panacea is over now. That questions are becoming more important, such as: What is a human being? What do we mean to each other? - What do you think? And how would you respond to these two questions?
The corona crisis suddenly reminded us of how vulnerable we humans are despite top-quality medicine and functioning institutions. Because everything has been going smoothly for so long, we have never had the precariousness of life on our radar. That alone will make us appreciate what we have more than before. This includes our relationships with families, friends, people in the office, fitness centre and yodelling club. Man is a social being: he withers away without close and physical proximity to other people. The current isolation is like a social diet: we look forward to a sumptuous meal all the more. But I am also a realist: the world will not simply become a better one once it has weathered the corona crisis. The current crisis demonstrates why the human species is so successful in the evolutionary sense: it is creative, intelligent and adaptable. If you multiply creativity and intelligence, you get "technology". Even after corona, it will be essential for our lives.
What is your personal "perception" of the past few days and weeks?
I better understand how difficult it can be to resist collective hysteria. A lot comes together quickly: kind people who are noticeably afraid; headlines every minute announcing negative aspects; rumours and speculations; panic buying. Keeping a calm head here requires a deliberate effort. It is absolutely essential that the authorities act and communicate reliably in such situations, which fortunately they do.
For all those who are now permanently at home: can you suggest a book that fits the current situation?
For those who haven't read it yet: Juval Noah Harari: "A Brief History of Mankind". He gives us the big picture by showing which crises and changes humanity has already endured.
About Georges T. Roos
Georges T. Roos (* 1963 in Basel) is one of the leading futurologists in the German-speaking world. During and after his studies in pedagogy, journalism and psychology at the University of Zurich, he worked as a journalist, most recently on the editorial board of a Swiss daily newspaper. From 1997 he was a member of the management board of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, until he started his own institute in 2000. Georges T. Roos is the father of two grown children and now lives in Lucerne.