Post-Pandemic: Return to normal after COVID-19 pandemic unlikely

As more American get COVID-19 vaccinations, people are looking forward to a “return to normal”; visiting relatives, eating in restaurants, nightlife and concerts, and even casual shopping in a store.

That all will happen as we progress along, but going back to normal? Probably not.

Just a couple weeks ago, futurist Amy Webb and her Future Today Institute released released this year’s version of her popular Tech Trends Report.

In the overview, she offers some parallels between the early 1920s after World War I and the Spanish Flu, the devastating worldwide pandemic often compared with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Webb notes by the time Spanish Flu pandemic ended in 1920, vast technological changes had begun that changed how people lived. “It’s difficult not to see striking parallels to our modern world,” she writes.

Exponential technologies — artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, exascale computing, autonomous robots and off-planet missions to space — are challenging our assumptions about human potential. Under lockdown, we’ve learned how to work from our kitchen tables, lead from our spare rooms, and support each other from afar.

— Amy Webb, 2021 Tech Trends Report

The changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic are varied and plentiful. Webb’s Tech Trends are always interesting reading, but maybe more so this year. It’s bigger than past years with 12 volumes, but digestible in chunks. At least give the summary a read.

Which of the “signals” explored by Webb and her team will remake our lives and which won’t and when that will happen is hard to say. Taken together, however, it places the pandemic as an inflection point from which there is no return to pre-pandemic normal.

It’s time to start anticipating and planning for a new normal.