26 July 2020
By Reuben Maake
We have been warned that the scourge of the Coronavirus is going to live with us for a very long time and it is imperative that we embrace the “new normal”. Nations are challenged to start looking at the prospects the Forth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will provide to help us navigate new ways of living in the midst of COVID-19
The world is rapidly changing because of the new technology that influences the way we interact or do things. The Coronavirus is also fast becoming part of our lives. Everyone is trying to navigate their way around the new normal.
The 4IR has been touted as an era of technological evolution that presents many opportunities. We live in the era where artificial intelligence, robotics and digitisation should be taking over various fraternities to perform duties beyond human abilities.
As the country has locked horns against the scourge, such technological innovations can play a greater role in places like hospitals to provide flawless medical services to the sick and save our dear nurses and doctors from losing their lives to this pandemic.
The new normal requires that we all get out of our comfort zones and embrace the technology with everything that comes with it. Having advanced machines can see our country produce good quality medicine, PPE and excellent medical services without fail.
Advanced countries were able to contain the virus because they employed their technology to help fight the pandemic which minimised chances for human contact. South Africa can realise true physical distancing if production companies and service centres such as banks, industries, manufacturers, health centres develop a technology that would help people receive services in the comfort of their homes. Banks were at the forefront of responding to digitisation but technological illiteracy and technophobia are proving great impediments.
We can learn and emulate other countries that are already at the forefront of 4IR such as China and Japan, where robotics is fast becoming an integral part of their lives. Motor companies such as Tesla are already living the virtual reality for their production of driverless cars that are also eco-friendly.
The COVID-19 catastrophe should be a lesson that we must all start considering digitisation as a new way of life. It is time to unlearn and learn to live with machines. Wakanda can be a lived reality that is Coronavirus-free. Change makes us creative, change makes us new and change can make us prosper.
- Maake is a communicator for the University of Limpopo. He writes in his personal capacity.