Prior to the pandemic taking over all our cycles, I was focused on assessing how society would react to several emerging scenarios. Using polls, I asked questions about connecting our brains to the Internet, reuniting with a deceased loved one, or attending a hologram concert of a deceased artist. I was suprised by the high percentage of respodents that were against these emerging scenarios. Please participate in those Polls, as I am still interested in your thoughts. More importantly, I have to wonder what COVID-19 does to future responses to these questions. For example, delivery robots were seen as a joke, fad, or nuisance in some places pre-pandemic. According to this Article by Roberto Baldwin, it may be finding a way into public consciousness as an important tool to combat the spread of coronavirus. Delivery robots helped deliver food and medicine in Wuhan China during the coronavirus-related quarantine.
We could end up in a place where human operators control a group of delivery robots, while doing their jobs without putting themselves at risk. In a post-pandemic world, robotic delivery may become a necessity. If restaurants lose seating capacity, as many believe they will, delivery becomes more important and robots reduce the cost of delivery – the article above states that services like UberEats and GrubHub charge up to 30 percent. Reducing friction and saving money have been reasons to move in this direction, but now autonomous deliveries are likely a public health benefit as well.
The question is, does a new normal change the way society looks at these innovations? Let’s explore the question by looking at a delivery scenario example from the article:
New Normal: grocery deliveries see a huge spike in demand as people opt to stay home instead of going out to buy supplies. For senior citizens and those with compromised immune systems, this is potentially the only way they can get food without putting themselves at increased risk. What about the workers that have to deliver, aren’t they putting themselves at risk? The article states that services like Amazon’s Whole Foods have seen delivery windows booked, while workers are going on strike for better protection, sick pay, and better wages for essentially putting themselves at risk to drop off our food.
Change in perspective: as my polls indicated, many will resist this scenario. But when presented with a new normal, perspective is likely to change. The article states: The reality seems to be moving to these types of vehicles offering safe ways to deliver packages while reducing the risk that comes with people going door to door with food, groceries, or other items. As more of these robots venture out into the world to deliver food or medicine, communities will become accustomed to their presence.
Now, with us in the midst of a world-altering pandemic, I’ll take another poll. Let’s see if our current situation changes the way we think about emerging scenarios.