indicatorThe Owl

Reasons to be excited about the post-pandemic economy, part 1 of 3

Special guest author Todd Hirsch, Vice President and Chief Economist, ATB Financial

By ATB Economics 27 April 2020 1 min read

It’s hard to be an optimist these days. The health pandemic is taking lives and the economic crisis is closing businesses. It seems rude to be upbeat.

Despite these hardships, there are a number of reasons to be excited about a post-COVID world. Here’s one of them.

The pandemic will accelerate the fourth industrial revolution. After the mechanical revolution (1800s), the electrical revolution (early 1900s), and the digital revolution (1960s), the fourth revolution that will transform our economy is the cyber revolution—a world of artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain technology and virtual reality. 

This revolution has been around for a few years, but it hasn’t yet been truly transformational. Companies and individuals have been somewhat reluctant to embrace the available technology, either because of cost or simply because they prefer doing it the old way. The pandemic could change this by making the practical applications of these technologies more obvious.

Travellers, for example, may be less likely to pack into airplanes and line up at all-you-can-eat buffets, but they may be more willing to try virtual reality experiences. With the right technology, virtual business meetings could be as effective as the face-to-face option while saving a huge amount of time and resources.  

In the same vein, physically distancing may become more normal, but artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies offer potentially new ways of communicating that we’ve been slow to embrace. 

Make no mistake: the COVID crisis is horrible. The human and economic suffering will be the worst we’ve known in modern times. Still, if we allow ourselves a moment’s luxury to think positively, good things are on the horizon, including the faster adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies.

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A note on COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on the economy here in Alberta and around the world. The Owl will report on these impacts when good information is available while continuing to track regularly scheduled releases of economic data and long-term trends. Please go to atb.com for COVID-19-related updates from ATB Financial.

Faster adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies may take place after the pandemic.

The pandemic may speed up the fourth industrial revolution.


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