13. COVID-19: Can We Imagine The Future Together?

Dear Parents,

Today AUN will launch a new major, Intergalactic Interdisciplinary Studies, designed for our students who aspire for careers on Mars. Internships will be with Elon Musk and Richard Branson. 

 

Sounds super exciting, right? Perhaps too good to be true?

 

Well, Aprils Fools! 

 

Today is April 1, and it is a tradition in the USA to play tricks on each other on this day. However, do you think my April Fool’s joke is that far from actually being true? Did you believe me when you first read it? 

 

I can imagine a future where my April Fool’s joke is not a joke at all. Can’t you? “Ground control to Major Tom,” “Is there life on Mars?” – how I wish David Bowie were still with us right now. He was always ahead of his time during his lifetime.

 

This letter will be about COVID-19: Can We Imagine The Future Together?

 

I will share some observations with you, about what a future world might be like, with COVID-19, once balance returns.

 

Work From Home (WFH)

America’s Silicon Valley has had Work From Home (WFH) for years, and now COVID-19 has introduced WFH across the globe. Work-life balance will now become work-life integration, as we rethink our work spaces and our home spaces. In parallel, Learn From Home (LFH) will become equal with WFH. Future work spaces will be designed only for work that must be done in real time, with real people present; anything that can be completed remotely, through WFH, will continue after COVID-19. Online education will explode, and LFH will become part of our daily schedules. Homes of the future will move beyond the concept of a home office to utilities that will allow us to take our office anywhere, anytime, not tied to a particular space at home. Imagine! 

 

Medical equipment

We have also seen the shortage of medical equipment world-wide, and the inability to ship it from manufacturing locations to hospitals. Therefore, in the future, nations will ensure that essential medical equipment will be manufactured locally and the supply chain designed for just-in-time usage. One example is ventilators, the one piece of medical equipment vital to saving the lives of people in critical condition due to COVID-19. Hospital-grade ventilators cost between $25,000 - $50,000 each, and currently, there is a shortage. Two automotive companies, Mahindra and Suzuki, are taking the lead to develop a new kind of ventilator. Both companies are in a race to design a portable, low-cost ventilator that will cost only $100-$500 each. I am guessing, in the future, you can imagine each home will have a ventilator. You will be able to purchase a personal ventilator for less money than you pay for a new iPhone, and it will become standard, essential home equipment, like a refrigerator, in this Era of Pandemics. One interdisciplinary team in India (robotics and medical sciences) has developed a prototype portable ventilator capable of running through an APP on an Android phone. Imagine!

 

Zoom

Zoom, our new platform for both WFH and online learning, is the clear winner, showing us a path into the future. The Zoom Video Communications company (ZM) went public on April 18, 2019, for $36 per share, and slowly over the next 8-10 months, the company became more and more well known as a real competitor to Skype and WebEx for video conferencing, online chat, and mobile collaboration. The stock price rose with the growing familiarity, such that by early January, it was trading at just above $68 per share. Once COVID-19 became a pandemic, the Zoom stock price skyrocketed -- as of yesterday, closing for $146 per share. In March 2020 alone, it went from $113 per share to as high as $158 per share – in contrast to the S&P 500 Index, Nasdaq Composite Index, and Dow Jones Industrial Average Index, which have recorded double-digit losses in the same period. There is talk of Zoom University, with Zoom Professors, who will become Zoom Celebrities (Zelebrities?). Imagine!

 

This is just the beginning…

 

Always, with best regards, stay safe, Semper Gumby

 

Dawn Dekle, PhD

AUN President (Vice-Chancellor)

 

Teaser: stay tuned for the next letter from the desk of the AUN President, on the topic “COVID-19: Part Two Can We Imagine The Future Together?”