What You Need To Know

When the novel coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down, it forced us apart physically and brought our bustling economy to a near halt. Lockdowns and mandated closures forced people to shelter in place for weeks. Nearly all non-emergency or non-COVID medical procedures ceased. Schools and “non-essential” businesses were shuttered.

As disruptive and devastating as this was, it could have been far worse absent the technology and innovation that helped bridge the spatial divide and kept society functioning. Technology connected bosses to employees, doctors to patients, educators to students, and grandparents to grandchildren. Society pivoted almost overnight. Limitations on in-person gatherings forced companies, organizations, and houses of worship to shift meetings, conferences, and services entirely online. Families celebrated milestones and grieved lost loved ones through laptop screens and devices. Bedrooms and home offices became our classrooms and doctors offices. Social media allowed Americans to air their grievances and engage in the most fundamental of our political processes, elections.

Technology is not without its challenges: We sacrifice privacy and security, risk potential for crime and harassment, are exposed to unwelcome images and material, and suffer from fewer in-person relationships in an increasing virtual word. Additionally, many Americans awakened to technology companies’ tremendous ability to shape the public discourse, limit the dissemination of news and information, and eliminate contrary or unpopular ideas and opinions.

All of these are cause for concern, but they do not erase technology’s many positive benefits to our society, which solve myriad problems and were critical to getting us through the pandemic. Continued innovation has the potential to further enhance our individual lives and our society broadly.