Tags: Coronavirus | Cybersecurity | Health Topics | teleemployment | teleworl | trend | metropolitan

Coronavirus Expediting Pace of Internet Influence on Our Lives

internet influences as seen through telework

(Jae Young Ju/Dreamstime)

By Wednesday, 29 April 2020 12:45 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The internet, in combination with smartphone and laptop-enabled email and videoconferencing capabilities, has influenced a rapidly growing number of company employees, free-lance consultants, and entrepreneurs to conduct business from almost anywhere.

What’s more, many of them have come to prefer numerous benefits afforded by this new freedom, including flexible scheduling and residence location choices.

There can be absolutely no doubt that social distancing necessities brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic will turbocharge ubiquitous adoption and societal impacts of remote working.

And, just as the most pernicious influences of the coronavirus have plagued dense "hot spot" metropolitan areas, many of these same regions will also be impacted disproportionately by the same trend.

New York City, where the virus killed more than 11,000 people as of last Sunday, serves as an extreme example. Whereas the city’s economy depends on high density, with millions of people crammed together in small apartments, crowded sidewalks and packed subways, these same close contact conditions spread the deadly disease.

New York’s population has already been declining over the past three years. Coronavirus concerns, in combination with rapid transitioning to remote work-from-home requirements, threaten to rapidly accelerate this trend.

John Bowles, executive director of the non-partisan Center for an Urban Future, warns that the number of people permanently leaving the city "could spiral." He told The Wall Street Journal that if this occurred, "It would be a huge blow to the city’s finances and leave the city struggling to pay for the things that make New York great, like the Subway system, like parks, like schools."

An exodus could leave the city — as well as others that experience a high number of COVID-19 cases — without the workforce needed to attract businesses and the tax revenue to provide vital services.

Seth Pinsky, the former president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation emphasizes that New York officials have to ensure that people feel safe, and that New York City is still worth it. "New York has always been a difficult place to live," he said. "The city is dirty, it’s crowded and it’s expensive. But the reason people have consistently made that tradeoff is [that] the benefits outweigh the cost."

I discuss many social and economic ramifications of these cost-benefit tradeoffs with regard to the pre-pandemic tele-work trend in my 2018 book "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity."

The national telework trend has already become particularly evident in finance, insurance, real estate, transportation, manufacturing and construction, and retail industries, along with steady gains in healthcare and law.

Low costs and high networking capabilities afforded by IT and AI (artificial intelligence) enable small business and start-ups, along with larger community-based enterprises and institutions, to serve ever-broadening markets that large strategically-located corporations previously monopolized.

Decentralized telework and enterprise opportunities are enabling more and more people to live where they wish: family-friendly communities that are affordable — safe places with good schools to raise their children, and natural and social surroundings that appeal to individual lifestyle priorities.

Suburban and rural areas will increasingly provide abundant, moderate cost, human labor resources for businesses and institutions that prioritize interactive personal attention, such as healthcare services enabled by an AI-driven medical technology revolution.

Urban employers benefit from tele-work too.

Decentralization, together with increased use of Internet-wired-together outsourcing of expertise, enables metropolitan-based companies to cut back on costly real estate holdings and escalating tax assessments mandated by cities to offset eternally-expanding municipal deficits.

Tele-employment also enables professional business organizations, ranging from larger corporations to small start-ups, to recruit and retain the best people no matter where they live; and to buy a unit of service and labor at lower salary and overhead prices.

Such decentralized, remote-work benefits should not be interpreted to suggest that cities will be abandoned altogether. Dynamic and diverse urban lifestyles will always be much preferred by a great many, and will be vital or useful to countless others.

Numerous varieties of metropolitan attractions will continue to thrive. Examples include specialty shopping, museum and theater districts — along with public federal, state and local government centers, large research and treatment hospitals, major sports and entertainment arenas, and global commerce and conferences requiring proximity to major airports.

Other sectors will likely fare far less fortunately.

Growing losses of traditional office business populations will hurt urban center service industries such as food and beverage establishments, janitorial and maintenance workers, and commercial security providers.

Both in some ways for better, others for worse, ravaging impacts of the coronavirus has already expedited the pace of Internet influences that will increasingly transform the ways many among our population live and work.

In any case, we can neither turn back the clock, stop it, nor afford failing to anticipate and plan for ever-more rapidly ticking times ahead.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure, and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.

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We can neither turn back the clock, stop it, nor afford failing to anticipate and plan for ever-more rapidly ticking times ahead.
teleemployment, teleworl, trend, metropolitan
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 12:45 PM
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