When President Trump announced building a wall along the Mexican border, the news generated intense debate over its effectiveness to tackle security, migration and the drug trade. Our history is full of examples of the elites in power creating grandiose designs: from Egyptian Pyramids, Chinese Wall, Roman Colosseums, Indian Mausoleums, etc.
The race continues today.
Relics from the past
In the past, as today, these grand structures were built to astound and bewilder us with their splendour and the wealth and power of their owners. As time has progressed, the purpose of these constructions has transitioned, being gradually converted into places to entertain, educate, etc. If you think these grand designs are things of the past which you can admire whilst on holiday, think again, as they are part of our everyday lives… Think about universities, banks, etc. with their magnificent structures, overlooked by our eyes and brains accustomed to seeing them daily as part of our landscape.
Are these contemporary symbols of wealth, power and control also on the path to becoming relics of the past, an expensive liability?
The wind of change
As the old collapses, the modern emerges.
Remote working becomes today the new norm with only key workers commuting to work. This is still difficult to believe, as only 5% of UK employees used to work from home in 2019. On-line services, networked computers, and user-friendly applications have been influencing and revolutionising our daily habits for quite some time.
No doubt we are about to see a shift in many areas of our life — growing only 14% over the past decade, distant learning or on-line shopping — predicted last year to grow in the UK by 30% by 2024.
All estimates predicting our virtual presence, made only a few months ago, are already dated — impacted by COVID-19, wrongly assumed by some to be Black Swan.
The rapid changes unfolding in front of our eyes are forcing some of us out of our comfort zones, demonstrating to many the benefits of technology advancements and throwing all of us a lifebuoy, when other alternatives are not here just now.
What is next?
It is obvious. The only thing that is constant is change. We know it, Heraclitus told us over 2495 years ago…
The more we become accustomed and familiarised with the benefits, flexibility and ease of use of virtual and digital tools, the more our analogue lives will be adapting to the fast-approaching, game-changing technologies.
Looking at the world yesterday, we would not think that virtual education could be the new norm or that virtual tours around museums, art galleries, etc. would become the reality and employees could work remotely from the comfort of their homes.
Yet here we are, asking somewhat different questions:
Will universal basic income (UBI) replace our traditional model and is Spain leading the way?
Will Estonia opening their digital borders with e-Residency initiatives trigger a whole new economy and if so, will other countries follow?
Will crypto-currency replace the current fiat money and our traditional financial system?
As some of us continue discussing technology innovation and debate on Industrial Revolution 4.0, is China already light years ahead?
The winner takes it all?
Whilst some countries erect walls, others invest in digital bridges building digital empires to improve the livelihood of their citizens.
It is now only a matter of time before the game-changing technologies will disrupt our set of beliefs, routines and systems and it is up to us to embrace or reject them, with all the wisdom we acquired over the past couple of months.
The choice is ours.