In the first tech wave of COVID-19, we have seen a rise in fields like software, financial, digital media, information technology, big data, cloud computing, communications, e-commerce and adoption of artificial intelligence. This will continue to gain momentum.
To deal with the volume of government and health care inquiries, IBM’s Watson and Google’s AI technologies were rapidly deployed using their voice-based and text agents to answer questions thereby increasing service time and decreasing reliance on humans. This technology will evolve quickly and be applied more broadly.
The first wave also accelerated other technology advancements like robot delivery experiments by an e-commerce provider in China, 3D printing of PPE in response to limitations to traditional manufacturing and supply-chain, robots being used to clean, disinfect and deliver food, and drone usage for daily tasks such as food delivery and even dog walking.
Crisis triggers innovation, drives rapid adoption, and provides many new opportunities for entrepreneurship and application of technology. From here, those technologies will evolve quickly and spread to many other applications putting many existing lower skill jobs at further risk. Whether or not we get another wave of the COVID-19 virus itself, the first wave of economic disruption will certainly be followed by a second: a tsunami of technological change and disruptive innovation.
Assistant Vice-President, Continuing Studies, York University
Tracey Taylor-O’Reilly has been the Assistant Vice-President, Continuing Studies at York University for six years where she is the founding executive head of the newest and one of largest Schools in Canada. She previously worked at McMaster University for 15 years in roles that included Associate Clinical Professor and Director of the Centre for Continuing Education. She served on the Board and as President of The Canadian Association of University Continuing Education (CAUCE) and is currently on the Board of The Centre of Education & Training (a career and settlement services organization).