Written in July 2020, this book gives an analysis of ways which Covid is changing the world: which trends are temporary and which are here to stay. Many of the changes were already in progress for some time, and Covid only sped it up or exposed it for the world to see. Covid is the third major disruption of this millennium, after 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, and like the others, we will recover from it.
America’s government is on the decline, arguably since Reagan’s era. The institutions that form the country’s foundation were mostly created during Roosevelt’s era. Now, different factions of the government are constantly deadlocked, and no big projects are possible anymore because too many parties have the power to veto the whole thing. There have been signs of this for a while, but Covid truly revealed how far the US has fallen. America embraces free market capitalism, but it’s not working for many people, with healthcare costs risen out of control and politics captured by lobbyists. Denmark is an ideal system with free-market capitalism and also high enough taxation to provide everyone with social services.
The world needs to listen to the advice of scientists, but many countries (including the US, UK, and Brazil) have elected populist leaders or turned anti-science into a political stance. The fundamental reason is that scientists and the minority with advanced degrees seem to get to control everything, and the rest of the people resent this. Thus politicians like Trump have such broad appeal.
During Covid, a lot of jobs have moved online into the digital world, including services like doctor’s appointments that were resisted before. This will speed up the adoption of AI, as integrating AI is easier if the service is already digital. Still, people will want to live in cities, because we are social creatures that crave face-to-face interaction, and Zoom will never totally replace that.
Inequality has increased with Covid, lockdowns have forced millions back into extreme poverty and undoing decades of progress. The stimulus packages also mostly benefitted the rich. Despite calls for reshoring, globalization is not dead though, the comparative advantage is so great that we will always want to trade with each other. China is already the world’s #2 superpower, but there will not be a second cold war since the US and China are too economically dependent on each other.
The book contains reasonable observations and predictions. However, since I follow a lot of news and analysis about the coronavirus, none of it was very surprising to me and they were all theories that I’ve seen discussed elsewhere in the media or on Reddit — thus the relatively low score.