Elon University

Anonymous Responses: New Normal for Digital Life 2025

This page holds full anonymous responses to a set of July 2020 research questions aimed at illuminating attitudes about the likely near-future evolution of digital life in the wake of the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pew Research and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a large-scale canvassing of technology experts, scholars, corporate and public practitioners and other leaders from June 30-July 27, 2020, asking them to share their answer to the following:

The Question: Life in 2025? There have been significant debates since the emergence of COVID-19 about its potential impact on global society. Much of the conversation has centered on the transformation of people’s social interactions, their physical and mental health, economic and social divisions, the nature of work and jobs, local, national and global politics, climate change and the globalization of goods and services. Of course, the evolution of people and technology could play a major role across some aspects of the ‘new normal’ in the years to come. What do you envision the ‘new normal’ for digital life will be in 2025? Consider the changes that are being set in motion by the COVID-19 outbreak and the way societies are responding. Do you predict these changes will lead to life in 2025 that is mostly better for most people, mostly worse for most people or not much different for most people than life was at the time the pandemic began?

915 respondents answered the question

  • About 47% said life will be mostly worse for most people in 2025 than when the pandemic began.
  • About 39% said life will be mostly better for most people in 2025.
  • About 14% said life in 2025 will not be much different for most people than before the pandemic began in 2020.

They were asked to elaborate on their choice with these prompts: If you expect change, what do you think the ‘new normal’ will be for the average person in 2025? What will have changed most? What will not change much at all? We are particularly interested in what you think will happen to the way people use and think about technology. Please describe what you think the ‘new normal’ will look like with regard to the role of digital technologies in individuals’ personal and professional lives, their daily routines, their well-being, their privacy, their employment and economic security. What hopes do you have for tech-related changes that might make life better in coming years? What worries you about the role of technology and technology companies in individuals’ lives in 2025?

The full report with organized analysis of responses is here

Among the key themes emerging in the 915 respondents’ overall answers were:

* EMERGING CHANGE  Tele-everything is embraced: The broad adoption of “remote” processes – tele-work, tele-medicine, virtual schooling, e-commerce and more – is growing. In 2025, there will be more people working from home, more virtual social and entertainment interactions, fewer forays in public than has been in the case in recent years.  Humans’ yearning for convenience and safety fuels reliance on digital tools: The pandemic has rearranged incentives so that consumers will be more willing to seek out smart gadgets, apps and systems. This will speed up adoption of new education and learning platforms, rearrange work patterns and workplaces, change family life and upend living arrangements and community structures. The best and worst of human nature are amplified: The crisis is enhancing digital interconnectedness that engenders empathy, better awareness of the ills facing humanity and positive public action. On the flip side, some individuals, cities and nation-states will become more insular and competitive as survival mode kicks in. Xenophobia, bigotry and closed communities will also increase.

* WORRIES FOR 2025 – Inequality and injustice are magnified: The pandemic and quick pivot to the use of digitally-driven systems will widen divides and expand the ranks of the unemployed, uninsured and disenfranchised. The power imbalances between the advantaged and disadvantaged are being magnified by digital systems overseen by behemoth firms as they exploit big data and algorithmic decision-making that are often biased. More people will be pushed into a precarious existence that lacks predictability, economic security and wellness. As risk grows, security must also; privacy falls and authoritarianism rises: The health crisis spawned by the pandemic and broader dependence people have on the internet heighten threats of criminal activity, hacks and other attacks. Optimized security solutions may further reduce individuals’ privacy and civil liberties. They are likely to expand mass surveillance, as authoritarian states will use this as an opportunity to silence dissent and abuse citizens’ civil rights.  Threats to work will intensify from automation, artificial intelligence, robotics and globalization: In order to survive, businesses are reconfiguring systems and processes to automate as many aspects as possible. While artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will enhance some lives, they will damage others, as more work is taken over by machines. Employers may outsource labor to the lowest bidder globally. Employees may be asked to work for far less; they may have to shift to be gig and contract workers, supplying their own equipment, and they may be surveilled at home by employers. Misinformation will be rampant: Digital propaganda is unstoppable, and the rapidly expanding weaponization of cloud-based technologies divides the public, deteriorates social cohesion and threatens rational deliberation and evidence-based policymaking. People’s mental health will be challenged: Digital life was already high-stress for some people prior to the required social isolation brought on by the pandemic. The shift to tele-everything will be extensive and that will diminish in-person contact and constrict tech users’ real-world support systems and their social connections.

* HOPES FOR 2025 – Social justice will get priority: The reawakening of public movements for social justice and economic equality may create more-responsive government and socio-political systems that are more attuned to diversity, equity and inclusion. That includes focus on digital divides.  People’s well-being will prevail over profit: Businesses may start to value serving the greater good above the typical goals of market capitalism. This could produce policies to fund broader safety nets such as universal health care, universal basic income and broadband as a basic utility. A reckoning for tech companies and their leaders might also occur.  The quality of life will improve: The transition to home-based work will reduce urban air pollution, overcrowding and transportation gridlock, and improve quality of life, family life, accommodations for disabilities and other enhancements.  AI, VR, AR, ML will yield good: Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, deep learning, machine learning and natural language processing will make virtual spaces feel much more real, in-person and authentic.  Smarter systems will be created: Municipal, rural, state and independent services, especially in the healthcare sector, will be modernized to better handle future crises, quickly identifying and responding to emerging threats and sharing information with all citizens in more timely and helpful ways.

News release with nutshell version of report findings is available here

All credited responses on the “new normal” in 2025 in the wake of the outbreak COVID-19

The full survey report with analysis is posted online here

Download the report as a printable document here

Responses from all those preferring to make their remarks anonymous. Some are longer versions of expert responses contained in shorter form in the survey report.

The responses on this page are organized in four sections below. They are sorted by respondents’ choices as to whether they responded that it most likely that: 1) digital life in 2025 is likely to be mostly worse for most people than prior to the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020; 2) digital life in 2025 is likely to be mostly better for most people; 3) digital life in 2025 will remain generally the same as it was previous to the arrival of the pandemic in 2020; and 4) the respondent selected none of the three choices but did write a response.

Some people chose not to provide a written elaboration. Some of the following are the longer versions of responses that are contained in shorter form in one or more places the survey report.

These comments were collected in an opt-in invitation to more than 10,000 people that asked them to share their responses to a web-based questionnaire in July 2020.

The following predictions are from respondents who said most people’s lives will be mostly WORSE in 2025 than they were prior to the arrival of the pandemic

A telecommunications and internet industry economist, architect and consultant with over 25 years of experience now working as a researcher at one of the world’s foremost technological universities responded, “Things in 2025 will be mostly worse for most people because of the economic downturn associated with responding to the crisis, which was aggravated in the case of the U.S. by a leadership failure that has made COVID-19 worse, and consequently made the associated economic downturn worse. This is a global phenomenon that has reversed and substantially set back global efforts to address income inequality and a host of other problems that we were not addressing adequately in any case. The impacts of COVID-19 health-wise and economically are regressive, and I doubt we will have the political will to really address those challenges head-on. In the U.S., the picture is likely to be better since the failure in leadership we have experienced under Trump will hopefully be reversed and a number of other issues may also see a brighter side, such as awareness of and possible (partial) solutions to climate change and preparation for the next COVID-19-like pandemic (which had been anticipated before, but not taken seriously – our preparedness for the next one is likely to be better). Through all of this, the role of digital technologies in enabling remote social and economic activity has been critical and has prevented the problem from being even worse. The new normal will include much greater acceptance of remote work and telecommuting – in both cases, things that were happening and needed to happen, but which have experienced a step function enhancement. This will provide an opportunity to address climate change issues and possibly encourage better commuting practices. The movement away from urbanization toward suburbanization and the adverse impact on public transport systems are both on the negative side. I think we will see a step increase in cybersecurity threats – the expansion in attack surfaces because more folks are online is a sufficient reason for that – and the concurrent increase in risks to personal liberty of surveillance society. We need to be clear on what we want in our society, but stopping it is unlikely to be feasible in my view. I think more people will have more complicated relationships and understanding of digital technologies. Our dependency and social fluency with using it will be greatly advanced (e.g., everyone now knows how to use Facebook and Zoom), but folks will not wholly appreciate the new technologies and will not like the threats to privacy and cybersecurity and the political disruption of phenomena like ‘fake news,’ which are greatly and inexorably amplified by the dark side of social media. In giving voice to all and in enabling the viral spread of that voice, the internet and digital technologies have overridden more normal social and economic defense mechanisms against the destructive power of fear and hatemongering speech  –  it is too attractive as a consumption good for people to simply turn away and too powerful as a mode of expression to expect the perpetrators to simply disappear. Unfortunately, there are no silver-bullet solutions. Also, as a complementary effect, the boost to digitalization will accelerate other trends (although the adverse macroeconomic effects provide an offsetting dampening effect) such as the trend towards adoption of AI and other automation technologies that will involve a lot of capital substituting for labor, so a lot of disruption in employment markets that will not be limited to low-skilled workers. Lots of other ‘white-collar’ trades will be ripe for offshoring and automation, like lots of legal work. In the short-medium term, I expect this to have significant disruptive effects requiring workers across the economy to re-train and be more flexible and adaptive. The over-hang of COVID-19-related debt, grotesquely amplified by bad fiscal policies since 2016, will make it difficult to raise the funds for subsidy programs to aging populations, and the pension-fund risk is significant and could herald a global economic crisis that might make 2008 look like child’s play. Strong leadership and a commitment to something like addressing climate change and rebuilding our infrastructure and economy to support that direction might offer a path out of it, but I despair of that sort of leadership really being able to be successful in the U.S. or globally.”

HOPES: “1) Telecommuting – It expands accessibility, enables flexibility and reduces greenhouse gases. 2) Smart – Especially-smart energy systems – these are not feasible without ICTs, and digitalization is a necessary but not sufficient solution to address. There is huge potential for ICT augmented productivity and efficiency improvements across all sectors from healthcare, to finance, to manufacturing, to education. Of course, realizing these benefits is not automatic, requires co-evolution of ‘analog’ policies and will need to confront adverse trends that digitalization can also bring, so realizing this potential will not be easy.”

WORRIES: “Threats to income inequality, privacy and security, and fragmentation and disruption of sound political discourse. The world is a more complex place and requires more multidisciplinary/cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural engagement to address challenges but putting those together is hard. Digital technology is essential to support the multistakeholder types of governance solutions we need, but it is also very effective in implementing authoritarian solutions and in mobilizing ignorance and mob rule. It will be a battle to see whether our better halves can succeed.”

A research professor of international affairs said, “Surveillance capitalism is equivalent to government surveillance, and policymakers should use market forces to increase demand for models that use the least amount of data or synthetic data.”

A leader with a Washington, DC-based digital transformation consultancy wrote, “Much depends on what we mean by ‘better,’ and for whom. We may be able to accomplish some tasks faster. Artificial intelligence may help make medical diagnoses and selections of treatments better, faster, more accurately. Cars will continue to become safer due to high-tech devices. Privacy will decrease. Hacking, worms, trojans, phishing, etc. will increase. In other words, our devices will ‘bite’ us. Some of our systems may become easier to use, but others will lag. This is partly due to the incompetence if IT people, and lack of caring by companies. For example, of the various utilities I use, some have easy to use and reliable websites, and some are hopeless. Customer care from scripts is a bad and angering joke. Globalization sometimes provides worse services. My internet provider, Comcast, is highly unreliable, and seems uninterested in providing more robust services. Technology does not increase caring. Greed rules, and that which makes companies the most money will prevail. Overall, high-tech seems to increase a coarsening of life and encourage social isolation. Some young white men will continue to self-radicalize over the internet. Progress in high-tech is not matched by progress in other infrastructure. For example, gun control in the U.S. lags greatly. In general, companies do not care about individuals’ lives. They care about what they can sell. For some companies, like Amazon, this makes for a very good user experience. In general, the companies are value-neutral. They will continue to collect, analyze, sell and manipulate our personal data. Surveillance by governments using devices from high-tech companies, particularly in places like China, will increase. The surveillance leads to control.”

A global intelligence expert wrote, “My hopes lie in the application of AI, mostly in areas in which repetitive human action is required. Two examples come to mind: 1) The transportation application AI as an active partner in man-in-the-loop operators. Here is your AI executive assistant that observes the operator’s routine habits and errors and from those two inputs and others offers real-time advice to operators to aid in risk mitigation and accident avoidance. Second, more – much more – of what is already underway in medicine. Specifically, chart readers and radiologists should be on the verge of extinction because AI is better than humans; it filters out and eliminates that. This will assist in decreasing patient death. This is already happening. I worry about even-more-sophisticated theft of personal identifiable information, PII, and more-elaborate information-warfare applications. We also must not discount the mounting threat from loss of privacy and loss of security (two different things).”

A longtime Internet Engineering Task Force participant said, “There will be more isolation, more mistrust. More spying and censoring. Far less money from working. Some countries will be missing. Far more migration. Security? There was none, there will be none.”

HOPES: “There will be less buying and more making. Improvisation and tinkering for things that have gone missing. Smaller groups, families, cities that will become more independent from world and government. More direct communication without the need of internet or telephone, but still from computer to computer. There will be better antibiotics, both for humans and computers. :)”

WORRIES: “The hubris of some media and governments. Censoring that does not care for lives. Compulsory vaccination that intends to kill lives.”

A telecommunications and networking writer and publisher commented, “There will be a stark divide between the relatively few cyber-collar workers (work-at-home, well-paid) and the more numerous blue-collar workers (relatively poor pay, must commute, must stay close to cities and factories where suitable jobs are). The cyber-collar workers will disperse from urban areas, as broadband will be ubiquitous in rural areas because of SpaceX’s Starlink. Their presence will alter the social makeup of their new communities.”

HOPES: “Electric vehicles will become the norm. Small ones at first, then moving up to sedans and trucks. Many fewer mechanics will be needed as they have many fewer parts. Electronic medical records will be fully embraced because paper doesn’t work with telehealth, which will become the default. 5G and Wi-Fi will become reliable enough that video will become the default mode of communication rather than voice only. Mobile devices will be powerful enough that they are your only computer. At home or work, you dock it with big screens, keyboards and wired connectivity. In-person mass meetings will be rare or nonexistent. Colleges and large conferences will be online only.”

WORRIES: “Privacy is dead. Hacking of individuals will be distressingly normal for decades until we evolve security practices.”

A telecommunications law professional wrote, “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I think that this pandemic will have both medium- and long-term disruptive effects on society. On the downside, the pandemic is both highlighting and exacerbating the difference between those who live on the edge of poverty and those who do not. It is also ripping a huge hole through the budgets of state and local governments which will harm public education, public arts projects and public infrastructure projects for a long time. Lots of companies will go out of business, and it is impossible to know what our retail landscape will look like in 2025, which has an impact for our community planning and for employment. It is also upending education in ways that I cannot even imagine – and causing huge emotional stress for parents of young children, particularly moms, that we are not handling as a society. The stress it is causing to our healthcare systems and healthcare providers is also so substantial and widespread that we will live with its aftershocks for a long time. More hospitals will close in rural and even less rural America. On the upside, it is demonstrating that some jobs can be done from home; it is highlighting the importance of broadband, and maybe that will lead to deeper engagement on how to deploy to underserved areas and how to make it affordable.”

HOPES: “I hope we will develop a will to make broadband access ubiquitous and affordable. I hope that focus on privacy and data security continue.”

WORRIES: “I worry that people living in poverty will not be able to climb out of poverty without access to broadband and devices, and that is a vicious circle that will make things worse for those who cannot afford either.”

A veteran of a top global technology company and Stanford Research Institute commented, “The economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 will take time, and it is likely that some sectors (e.g., tourism) will remain depressed or in transition through 2025. The additional debt taken on by different states to respond will also hinder their ability to invest in other areas. Both of those will reduce economic security. If companies are allowed to exploit that economic insecurity in order to increase economic activity, the recent regulatory changes that restored the rights of gig economy workers may be lost. Technology may continue to be seen as a vital way to maintain human relationships when physical distancing is required, but for some it may also be a tether to the always-at-work life of the gig economy.”

A vice president for a U.S.-based digital research center commented, “My real opinion was not listed as a choice. This is not a simple question, but I am fairly sure that it will be better for the wealthy and upper middle class and worse for everyone else. This is not a technology question, so I am not sure why I am considered knowledgeable in this area, but I will give you my opinion anyway. I believe that the well-off will better survive the pandemic and associated economic downturn and will do well in a world of remote work and equity investment in large corporations that are even now getting ready to absorb the business of small enterprises that will not survive. In the small college town where I live, multiple small restaurants and other small stores have gone out of business while McDonald’s is expanding and the packages from Amazon and other online retailers are flooding the town. I already work remotely, and my investments are doing fine. Meanwhile, the economic security of the McDonald’s workers, package delivery personnel, and Instacart shoppers will remain precarious. As more people live their lives online, privacy will decline. I cannot predict if and when it will hit some level of crisis that will motivate people and the government to begin to favor security over convenience, but we are not there yet.”

HOPES: “I have more fears than hopes. As stated in the prior response, I think that the new normal will simply amplify the current situation of expanding inequality, perhaps until some sort of breaking point is reached. My life is improved by advancing digital technology and the chances of my continuing to work into my 70s and even beyond are increasing. No commuting, no arduous international travel, et cetera. But for those who must continue to flip burgers, deliver groceries and pick up online orders in warehouses until they are replaced by robots, life will continue to degrade.”

WORRIES: “Soft control via corporate and governmental control of information. Look to China for how this could unfold going forward. Constant monitoring via various digital devices in the name of safety, health and convenience.”

The head of research at a major U.S. wireless communications trade association responded, “Those who are connected will be more dependent on their connections in their personal and professional lives, both as servers and as served parties. Servers will have less power in their relationships with their employers and customers and be more vulnerable. Served parties will also be more vulnerable, because of their dependence on more fragile supply chains for products and services. Greater economic and social anxiety will drive down birthrates and promote more instability and lower household and family foundation, while increasing tribalism and its political exploitation create a vicious cycle of ultra-nationalism and hopeless rebellion. Privacy will be both a flashpoint and an increasingly violated concept, through state-sponsored and third-party corporate intrusion and monitoring. Individuals will manifest higher rates of anxiety, depression and despair. Increasingly, economic and social elites will be entirely out of touch with the growing numbers of economically distressed people, who will form a growing share of the total population. Cohorts of younger people will increase their attempts to dedicate their lives to improving the lot of others, through efforts to build community and serve others, but this will be sorely tested by further evidence of a destructive hostility to positive action by ingrained elites. For a model of this trend, consider the behavior of the Assad and Saudi regimes in the Middle East, or the autocracies of Central and Eastern Europe, and China, and the so-far-successful efforts to stack the courts in the United States with ideologues hostile to an affirmative role of government. Technology will be an enabling element in allowing ‘activity’ to go on ‘as normal,’ but the life that is conducted around it will be fractured and separated by class, race, economic opportunity, wealth and political affiliation.”

HOPES: “Improved connectivity may allow some people to access information and education and seek solace in remote access to art and creative expression. Such connectivity may also promote cross-border opportunities for collaboration in the study and remediation of health crises. Such connectivity and other technological developments may also promote better health through monitoring and coordination of health care to isolated populations.”

WORRIES: “Powerful institutions will use technology to control the freedom and ability of people to determine their lives, while allowing for more thorough-going surveillance and ‘social ranking’ to preserve power, at the cost of social and economic advance, and even long-term stability. Technology companies will be neutral players in this; simply advancing technological capabilities, by perceiving their roles as limited, apolitical entities, simply pursuing a course of technological development. Individual technologists, leaders and employees may have – and express – qualms about the potential misuse of some technological capabilities, but this will not prevent their development and deployment, although it may cause some companies to forgo involvement. Individuals and populations will remain vulnerable to the security applications of technologies for surveillance and control. Both hostile state actors and non-state organizations (and individuals) may also use improved technological capabilities to perform terroristic attacks and hacks aimed at disrupting society and harming lives (such as the viral attacks on power companies in Eastern Europe).”

The manager of a project focused on enhancing digital life said, “The nature of the ‘new normal’ will likely depend very much on socio-economic status, geographic location, and nature of employment prior to the pandemic. I therefore don’t think it makes much sense to discuss what it will mean for the ‘average’ person, unless a working definition of that term is in place. Except for the independently wealthy, high-status so-called ‘white-collar’ knowledge workers whose day-to-day lives mostly dealt with information flows, I think that for the most part people will be worse off in the United States and other countries that have failed to handle their response to the pandemic well. There’s simply no way that the crushing unemployment, racially disparate death rates, economic losses and educational deterioration in these nations will have all been erased in four or five years. Barring major government intervention, I suspect very high consistent unemployment, at-capacity healthcare systems, and dramatically increased social stratification. I predict a greater economic and political role – globally – for countries that weather the pandemic well, such as Vietnam, Taiwan and New Zealand. Specifically, with respect to digital technology, for those with adequate bandwidth (as of now, quite unevenly distributed), remote participation, in work and in general, will be much more common, perhaps even normative. There will be less business travel as companies will have been forced to either adapt to its loss or will have realized it is not as important as previously thought. Work-from-home will be commonplace for those who can do so. I hope, but am less sanguine, that necessarily in-person work will be better compensated in general. I think daily routines will be more ‘bubbled’ as people are more generally mindful of their contacts and exposure, and there will be a greater reliance in general on remote connection over face-to-face, which will be reserved for close friends and family. I expect a diversification of employment to remote modalities, as people will want to have a revenue stream that is less contingent on physical presence, which will lead to stratification, since not everyone will have time, education or bandwidth to develop alternate jobs. Being able to ‘go digital’ will be much more critical, and those whose jobs must be in-person will be far more vulnerable. Privacy could go two ways. It could continue to erode as more and more move to online, and are therefore surveilled, or the increasing awareness of privacy vulnerabilities could trigger a backlash, and as people move or are driven online, they may demand great privacy and regulation of online data, etc.”

HOPES: “The currently burgeoning movement to ban and control facial-recognition technologies leaves me with some hope that more regulation of easily misused technologies may be possible. I hope that the move of more work and meetings, etc., online may make living in a particular place less relevant, and therefore will have a flattening effect on home prices in parts of the country where it is nearly impossible to live unless wealthy. I hope that realizations about the fragility of the just-in-time global economy’s infrastructure may lead to leveraging technology to build in more resilience (redundancy); that the work being done on vaccines and global health may rejuvenate interest in publicly-funded medical research generally; and that the all-too-brief effects of the global quarantine on the environment may kindle a broader, more general interest in using technology to move to a non-fossil fuel-based economy.”

WORRIES: “I worry about the global panopticon resulting from more and more of everything being online. A growing role for bandwidth as a critical resource to participate in the global economy, but it still being unequally distributed, heightening general inequality. There will be an increasing concentration of both monopoly and monopsony power in the hands of only a few companies, combined with further weakening of organized labor and the effective irrelevance of government and collective action with real-world effect, leaving functional decisions in the hands of a few large companies, which will nevertheless be operating at Dunbar-number human scales with respect to their decision making, meaning that the levers of power will be able to change the world, but in all-too-fallible hands. As E.O. Wilson has said, modern civilization and humanity are characterized by paleolithic emotions (and biology), medieval institutions, and god-like technology. That anyone whose skills don’t transfer to digital/online will be systematically devalued or trapped at the lower end of the economic scale. Massage therapy, or in-person athletic coaching or teaching, trash removal, construction, etc., don’t scale, and can’t go online.”

An expert in in the history of U.S. foreign relations and the international human rights movement wrote, “This question about technology in the face of our current challenges is laughable. Those lucky enough to be able to work remotely may continue to do so and technology will facilitate that. I worry that our policymakers in the United States are too weak-willed and cowed by their corporate donors and the extreme right wing to make the changes necessary for our society to thrive after COVID-19. I worry that without taking steps to shore up our education, healthcare, the environment and safety net or taking action to prevent mass evictions, the closure of small businesses, hunger, unemployment, poverty, etc., the gaps between the wealthiest and the rest of us will grow to intolerable levels. Furthermore, without action to end systemic racism, state violence and mass incarceration against Black and other marginalized Americans, we will rightly continue to have protests. Without making strides toward providing childcare and maternity leave, to creating stronger protections and more security for contingent workers, all of the technology in the world will not solve our problems. Already, we are seeing the negative effects of the existing income gap damaging our society through the rise of violent right-wing nationalism, anti-immigration sentiments and rising isolationism. I fear we will just see increasing unrest. Republicans will likely continue to trot out their tired canards about the threats of socialism, but no party has done more to make socialism appealing to the masses than selfish conservative policies that have redistributed wealth upwards to the wealthiest, while the rest of the country is left with stagnant wages, poor healthcare, a degraded environment and few protections from rapacious corporate greed.”

HOPES: “Well, I hope technology can help save us from the coming ecological/environmental disaster, and reverse global warming, but I am not holding my breath on that.”

WORRIES: “I worry about the loss of privacy, about law enforcement agencies continuing to abuse technology to harass and brutalize people, and to spread vile misinformation that undermines our democracy.”

An architect of practice specializing in AI for a major global technology company wrote, “These next five years will be a rapid transition to remote work and automation. We were already aware of the risks of job loss due to AI and automation, but with the drive to keep people safe, will see this effort escalate. There was hope in the AI ethics and human rights community that governments might prepare for this by re-skilling efforts or even a universal basic income, but now governments are in a financial black hole, so they won’t be able to invest resources into these programs. There may even be less political will to do it. After years of governments having to increase their spending on social programs, by 2025 conservative governments and the 1% will say ‘enough is enough’ and expect people to adapt. Technology will become even more critical to work and school access, but with a massive investment to get high-speed internet access to everyone, the digital divide will grow exponentially. Businesses that wish to reduce their risk/liability will become primarily or exclusively work-from-home (e.g., Twitter, Facebook). If you do not have access to good technology and high-speed internet, you will either struggle to work in these environments or you will be cut out completely. People who depended on technology or office environments (e.g., cleaners, lobby staff, cafeteria workers) will lose their livelihoods. Those trying to make ends meet in the gig economy will no longer be able to get by because there won’t be nearly as much demand for Uber drivers and Airbnb homes. I cannot see a technology option that will enable this portion of society to move away from those income sources. I am quite concerned for my daughter and nephews (high school and college-aged). Lots of statistics show that Millennials are worse off than their parents and carry massive debt they won’t be able to repay, but there was hope that Gen Z might not suffer the same fate. Unfortunately, distance learning is going to widen the digital divide in Gen Z and deprive them of opportunities we have always taken for granted (e.g., sports, after school clubs, dances, camp, field trips). I predict we will see skyrocketing rates of depression and suicide in this generation as kids are isolated and spend even more time on social media than before. We need governments that can combine a knowledge of technology, benefits as well as risks (including ethical ones!) and a deep empathy for the most vulnerable in our society. They cannot allow the 1% to dictate where our society goes from here while tossing some small concessions to those who have always been left behind (e.g., tearing down racist statues, modest police reform). We need a holistic approach to think about how our entire society can recover together.”

HOPES: “Some automated technology could remove the ‘dangerous, dirty, and drudgery’ to reduce risk and increase production/efficiency. IF (and this is huge wishful thinking that I do not expect) governments can provide internet access to all, we could see an increase in remote education and access to information among populations that didn’t have it before, but that would require political will and budget that I don’t see happening as long as Republicans and the 1% have any say.”

WORRIES: “Big tech companies and even smaller ones like Clearview AI will continue to scoop up as much data about people as possible for their own benefit and to sell to the government or other private entities for profit. COVID-19 is a perfect excuse for increasing surveillance under the excuse of safety ala post-9/11. There is a chance that the EU could bring some of these companies in check, but as long as the U.S. government refuses to stop these companies, and even uses them (e.g., Clearview), no meaningful change will happen. Tech companies are going to come out of this very well. AI and automation will increase the loss of jobs and moving most employees to remote work will see profits soar among the big tech companies. Twitter, Google and Facebook can get rid of their fancy and very expensive buildings, leaving the cities that have given them sweetheart tax breaks for decades in the lurch. Cities will also see a loss of income from public transportation, tolls, gas tax and parking. It would be great if we see housing prices drop so homelessness could decrease, but what jobs will these folks have access to in order to pay rent of any rate? A digital tax on these companies will be critical to help local governments that are now seeing massive numbers of people working from home rather than from centralized locations. Everyone needs to contribute equally to society, including these massive tech companies.”

A technology lead at one of the top five global technology companies in the world wrote, “While technology companies have been better than most consumer companies at safeguarding privacy, that is still a very low bar. I’ve had my personal data leaked by financial, health care and retail companies over the past 18 months. Going forward, security will continue to be my biggest concern. Until consumer protections include guarantees against the effects of data leaks, companies will have little to no motivation to invest in adequate cyber security and data protection. A secondary concern is government surveillance of digital communications. I fear that governments will be tempted to surveil the use social media, email and other digital communications as a substitute for actual intelligence work.”

A vice president involved in AI research at a major global technology company said, “COVID-19 will increase social ‘divide’ – and will be hardest on people with less income, small business and businesses who are not ‘tech native.’ Most kids will lose out on a year of education and most businesses will have reduced financial capabilities and will cut benefits, nonprofit investment and have layoffs. It will require the government to help with social issues such as healthcare, climate and education. We need to invest more in science and education and research, but the government will have many competing things to fund as unemployment rises. The Trump administration will have a long-lasting negative impact. If he is reelected, then it will be significantly worse. I do think the COVID-19 crisis will test America, and we have the potential to come out stronger, but right now I’m not optimistic.”

HOPES: “Quality online education and Wi-Fi access can make a big difference for everyone. Assessment tools and individualized learning which help motivate learning. Updating curriculum to focus more on STEM. Research and science, benefitting from big data and shared global research addressing the world’s common problems (solving the vaccine problem and climate change). New manufacturing mechanisms and advances in AI, enabling people to spend more time where human skills really matter (caregiving, more time with family, etc.). Tech companies are progressive and can set examples for social responsibility.”

WORRIES: “In some industries we may have ‘winner takes all’ – or two winners take all… due to benefit of scale (shopping, social networks, search ads, etc.). We need an agile and strong, tech-savvy government to regulate while encouraging economic growth. We don’t have that today.”

An anonymous respondent said, “This is really something of a puzzle, in part because 2025 will obviously be in the sweep of this year’s national election, and things are already getting pretty ugly. This pandemic seems to have made mistrust of science and government even more of a problem than it has been in the recent past. Confidence in governance in general is in decline because of variations in projections being made from one day to the next, trust as a vital element in all our relationships, including the political, and trust does not seem likely to be increasing anytime soon. We have to include a decline in trust of social media platforms, despite the fact that more and more of the population has come to depend upon those platforms as sources of vital news and information. So, the new normal, as I imagine it, is likely to be one marked by even more tightly woven portals of information characterized by greater levels and scope of mistrust of others. I see nothing that is likely to reduce the extreme levels of inequality we see within the nation; how the sense of one’s status, and the frameworks through which we assign blame, responsibility, and trust in a path forward will be shaped algorithmically is far from clear. I have no basis for optimism in this regard. While I can’t be specific about what life will be like for most of us, I find it quite difficult to imagine it as much better than it is now, and much better than it has been in the not too distant past.”

HOPES: “In my most hopeful moments, I wish for the development of algorithmic systems that are capable of, and worthy of, the trust we would have to place in them, for us to rely upon the advice, recommendations, warnings and guidance about the choices we face in the short- and long-terms. These trusted systems would course have to be ‘smart,’ but they would also have to have developed a capacity for understanding the moral and ethical systems of value that each of us have developed (or are developing) for ourselves. These systems would have to be strictly constrained against sharing information and inferences that they have developed in order to serve our interests with others that we have not specifically granted access to information (and inferences) about us, our status, our goals, our strengths, our weaknesses, etc. Again, I need to be clear here. We will continue to be assessed by other algorithmic systems, but I am only referring to those systems with which we establish a relationship specifically for the purpose of gaining insights/guidance about how we should proceed toward the future. For me, the ideal system would be much like a trusted friend, one that is able to challenge me about tentative decisions/actions, based not only with regard to my hopes, dreams and values, but also in terms of the levels of knowledge and ignorance I might have about the benefits and risks I need to consider in pursuing those options. I think it is a technologically perusable, if not an achievable goal for five years down the road.”

WORRIES: “My worries, of course, are far less optimistic. The same technological systems that I have described in terms of my future hopes and dreams, can also be developed in order to influence my development in ways that serve the interests of powerful others – those unidentified third parties who partner with, or are otherwise associated with, the development of these ‘intelligent’ systems. I worry that we will not have a cadre of knowledgeable, dedicated individuals working in and leading tech companies in the development of surveillance, evaluation and regulation of the marketing/delivery of these systems to ensure that the more dangerous, and potentially manipulative systems, will not become the norm, or even significant influences on the quality of life that we will experience.”

An anonymous respondent said, “The adverse economic impact on the majority of the world’s population will overshadow any benefits of technology, which will accrue only to a minority. Globally, there will be a further consolidation of economic resources and power to a very small minority (normally referred to as ‘the 1%’), who are protected from and able to gain from the global economic downturn (either by increased profits or by opportunities to consolidate market positions, eliminate weaker competitors, etc.). The inevitable austerity measures to follow globally in coming years will also adversely affect disadvantaged populations disproportionately.”

HOPES: “Optimistically, I hope for a new appreciation for the reliability of the internet under the current model of management and governance, with the absence of any widespread failures during the pandemic.”

WORRIES: “Same as always: concentration of power, erosion of liberties, etc. Not much affected by COVID-19.”

An anonymous respondent predicted, “There will be more poverty, less employment and worse distribution of resources and production worldwide. What is called ‘new normal’ will mean ‘way below average.’”

HOPES: “More fair distribution of opportunities for scientists will create better room for tech development. Monopolies should be demolished. Mafias of tech groups and companies should be less dominating. Opportunities per person is the way to better technical solutions.”

WORRIES: “That monopolies will dominate everything. And what is called tech development or Internet of Things will be controlled by companies for reasons beyond what is known. Privacy on human’s lives, scientist’s outcomes, officers will be jeopardized.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “More people will be unemployed; unable to find a new job, and, for older people, be driven out of the workforce earlier than planned because of the COVID-19 risks and their age and lack of skills. There will be more work from home; women still taking on 70 percent of the workload or even more; greater ageism, as employers realize they can make do with smaller workforces and pay employees lower salaries. The biggest question is whether underrepresented communities hardest-hit by COVID-19 will get the resources to get training – for example, as contract tracers and healthcare workers – to allow them to improve their financial wellbeing and their economic status. The problem is that so many county and state governments have tremendous budget deficits and cannot improve education, health care and other critically important public services. I teach at the university level, and I can already see how students with poor internet access fall behind their peers quickly. Technology and telecommunications companies will have to rethink their business models to offer greater access to the underserved; that airlines and public transportation will have to rethink their routines to ensure people’s safety; and restaurants and grocery stores will have to focus more on online ordering and food delivery. CHANGED MOST: Technology won’t be a fun diversion for adults. It will be a vital part of being tied to work 24/7. People will give up any privacy to stay employed, because employers will monitor even white-collar professionals at all times, and professors and teachers already monitor students’ work the same way. People will also discover they can find exercise teachers – if they are motivated – online, and may find it is less stressful than being in a crowded room with people stepping over each other to take a class. I don’t know how governments will deal with more crowded highways if people continue to avoid public transportation. Perhaps more individualized, autonomous vehicles will get underground and aerial rights, as envisioned in ‘The Jetsons.’ Speaking of ‘The Jetsons,’ perhaps robots will ultimately clean our homes. I believe more people will bank online and, even now, banks are closing branches or changing branches into customer service locations rather than transaction-focused locations; order more food, drinks and groceries online; and giving up privacy in return for convenient shopping, a stable job, individualized workout programs; and other amenities. The question: will Black Lives Matter and other social movements be strong enough to change private companies, philanthropists, governments and others to ensure that everyone can access digital tools – to keep up in schools, to order fresh food when they live in food deserts, to have a chance at good-paying and stable jobs, to bank, to do all of the other things that middle-class and upper-class people take for granted? The other big issue: will ageism take the place of racism, so that it will be OK to shove older workers out of their jobs and let poor healthcare, nursing home care and home-healthcare continue for older people?”

HOPES: “Easier access to healthy food for people who live in food deserts – easier ways for these people to have online access, to have food delivered to their doorsteps. Top-notch internet access in underserved communities so young people there can access education (they’re already falling far behind, quickly). More expansive training for low-income people for jobs such as nursing, contact tracing, financial skill-building and other coursework that could help boost their economic status and long-term wellbeing. Greater access to banking and financial transactions for the underserved. More intelligent healthcare solutions so people – and primarily the elderly – can track their personal medical well-being from home, and have competent healthcare professionals to react quickly to any signs of problems. An explosion in innovation in transportation, so that people won’t have to fear for their health and safety on public transportation and won’t have to clog up the highways in cars, trucks and SUVs.”

WORRIES: “I worry that anyone who is employed will be tracked, just as UPS drivers and Amazon workers are now, and will feel forced to give up their privacy in order to be employed. I worry that our culture will continue to be divided, and that racist, sexist and other hate-oriented websites will continue to flourish – that advertising dollars will continue to drive the agenda and further marginalize legitimate news media/journalism. That journalism will be reduced to a few national platforms, with more of them being mouthpieces for a single agenda, and fewer local media outlets will be able to survive. That leaves people to fend for themselves in finding legitimate and helpful information. I worry that women and older people will lose work opportunities  –  women, because they’ll be saddled with more burdens of staying home and taking care of children while working from home, and older people because companies will assume they can’t work with technology and will demand too much pay and benefits.”

A well-known cybernetician and professor of business management commented, “Unemployment, loss of loved ones. Loss of classroom time means summer schools, make-up classes and repeating classes. More people will be skilled with using email and Zoom.”

HOPES: “More security in-depth. More jobs for technical people in organizations to keep the equipment running.”

WORRIES: “Frequent updates which are not explained. What is the purpose of the change? What will be the implications? Companies make changes and then let users figure out how to cope. Of course, this creates employment for people who step in to help. But numerous bad things can happen during the period of learning. More training. More use of simulators to help people learn how the technology works.”

A well-known independent analyst/commentator on national security and foreign policy wrote, “2025 will have more technology, more invasiveness, less privacy, less choice. If current trends continue, technology will be more and more driven by mass algorithms that maximize profits from the greatest number, leaving those who are outside the algorithmic ‘norms’ with fewer choices and less access to news. Entertainment and shock value will prevail over reason and open discussion.”

WORRIES: “The role of mass algorithms that diminish or ignore minority views.”

A well-known longtime U.S. academic leader and scholar of history, humanities and technology said, “I expect a higher percentage of education to be online. My experience with online education during the spring term of 2020 indicates that the quality of education will suffer. The online formats are good for transmitting information, but not for educating. Receiving information is not useful unless the receiver knows how to deal with it. That’s what education is about and increasing the online component of educational programs will make education less effective than it has been. Online shopping will also become a bigger part of retail than it has been. That’s fine for some things, but not good for clothing and other things you really have to see and try on or out. So, shopping will be less efficient, because there will be more returns. The shipping companies will do well; the retailers, not so well. Our electoral systems have to change. The experience this year shows that in-person voting during a pandemic is not really possible. On balance, a higher percentage of voting will be by mail ballots, and, if they can be secured, online voting. That is potentially good, but it can also lead to candidates trying to undermine the electoral system. After this pandemic, I expect people to have much more anxiety about the disruption of their lives. Anxiety is not a good thing.”

HOPES: “Better online voting. Reduced business travel, which is disruptive to companies and families. Improved e-tools for meetings and presentations. Current technology is impressive, but buggy. Faster Wi-Fi would improve online meetings, etc. Now, you have to buy fast Wi-Fi, which only those who do gaming do. More of the population is going to need such speed if we do more online work.”

WORRIES: “Security of information is the biggest worry. Surveillance will be a big issue. I fear the conditions of Zamyatin’s 1921 novel, ‘We.’”

The director of a major strategic project, recipient of a U.S. National Intelligence Medal, responded, “The world needs a collective effort to gather and share data to steer society and nations back to full operations, and to provide early indicators and warnings of future pandemics. Current methods for accessing data owned by public and private institutions and private citizens today are not able to guide COVID-19 recovery. The new data access frameworks in this initiative can succeed while strengthening societal welfare, prosperity and peace around the world. For more details, see this article.”

HOPES: “My hope is that we build an immune system for the planet now. While the pitches to DARPA in 2013 and 2016 were not funded at the time, such a solution remains viable and now potentially even more possible to start in the next two to five years given advances in computing, biosensors and our understanding of microbiology. The premise of such a solution centers around the recognition that, per the 2001 anthrax events, SARS, H1N1, the biggest threat of biological agents is the protracted time window it takes to characterize, develop treatment and perform remediation. We certainly are seeing this again with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Exponentially reducing the time it takes to mitigate a biothreat agent will save lives, property and national economies. To do this, we need to: Automate detection, by embedding electronic sensors into living organisms and developing algorithms that take humans ‘out of loop’ with characterizing a biothreat agent. * Universalize treatment methods, by employing automated methods to massively select bacteriophages vs. bacteria or antibody-producing E. Coli vs. viruses. Accelerate mass remediation, either via rain or the drinking water supply with chemicals to time-limit the therapy.”

WORRIES: “Back in 2013, and again in 2016, a proposal informed by the anthrax events of 2001, West Nile Virus in 2002, and both Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and an outbreak of monkeypox in the United States in 2003 was shared with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The proposal at the time was something seen as a safeguard against a ‘low probability, high consequence’ event – a natural or human-caused pandemic. The solution was a series of proposals centered around the concept of building an ‘immune system for the planet’ that could detect a novel pathogen in the air, water or soil of the Earth and rapidly sequence its DNA or RNA. Once sequenced, high-performance computers would strive to identify both the three-dimensional protein surfaces of either the virus or bacteria and then search through an index of known molecular therapies that might be able to neutralize the pathogen. At a minimum, such an immune system for the planet would overcome the limits of waiting for nation-states themselves to alert the international community of outbreaks within their borders. A second reason also was associated with this proposal, namely: exponential changes in technology and create pressures for representative democracies, republics and other forms of deliberative governments to keep up – both at home and abroad. In an era in which precision medicine will be possible, so too will be precision poison, tailored and at a distance. As proposed both in 2013 and again in 2016: this will become a national security issue if we don’t figure out how to better use technology to do the work of deliberative governance at the necessary speed needed to keep up with threats associated with pandemics.”

An internet pioneer and principal architect at a major technology company said, “By 2025, the economy will be on an upward trend, but unemployment and GDP will still not have returned to the levels of February 2020. In particular, the banking, arts, retail, real estate and travel/hospitality sectors will not have recovered completely, due to the high level of retail bankruptcies which in turn led to a real estate downturn and high levels of loan defaults in the banking sector. Also, virus vaccines will prove only partially effective, with new strains continually evolving. So, pandemics will become an ongoing problem that will result in lower levels of international travel and trade. With so many retail businesses shuttered, the levels of online purchases will have soared. Also, many arts groups (theatres, museums) will have been forced to either adapt to the online world or to close. This will lead to virtual museum tours and exhibits, theatre groups with seasons produced online, and many television programs produced at home. Similarly, with movie theatres having declared bankruptcy, new movies will largely be released on streaming services. Remote work will have become the ‘new normal,’ leading many companies to reduce their real-estate footprint. Many educational institutions will have moved to online learning as their principle means of instruction. With ‘work from home’ as the new normal, we will see a mass migration away from expensive West Coast cities like San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Los Angeles. Some will move to nearby less expensive areas like Sacramento, Gilroy, North Bend or Palmdale. Others will leave those states for Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico or Oregon.”

HOPES: “Much of the tech innovation occurring today is driven by customers adapting to the ‘new normal’ rather than from product developers. However, in the years to come we will see products adapting to those new uses of the technology. As an example, educational institutions have rapidly moved to online learning, but the results have been uninspiring, because the products that are being used were not designed for online learning and the curriculum has not been honed for it. By 2025, many of the kinks will have been worked out and new products designed from the ground up for education will have taken root, delivering much better results. Similarly, by 2025 we will see products designed to help produce TV shows from home that will yield results virtually indistinguishable from shows produced in the studio. Also, movie production will have developed distribution mechanisms that allow new movies to be as profitable via streaming production as they were being distributed in movie theatres. Similarly, musicians will have mastered production and distribution of online concerts, so as to enable them to continue performing without having to do shows in large arenas that will have remained shuttered. Exercise programs will have moved online, after most gym chains declared bankruptcy. Trainers will be able to deliver their programs online, with health monitoring integrated in.”

WORRIES: “With work and play having migrated online, the amount of personal data available in the online world will skyrocket. This will create challenges to privacy, with personal information increasingly available for sale and exploitation. Despite companies playing lip service to reducing discrimination, the focus on online interaction will be shown to increase implicit bias. Overall income inequality will soar, and unemployment rates will remain steadily high because jobs in retail; travel/hospitality will have ceased to exist, and tech companies will have made little progress on diversity.”

An internet pioneer based in Berkeley, California, wrote, “Some people will be better off because of more flexible work patterns, reduced traffic, etc. But a lot of other jobs will be harder to find. For example, it appears that many restaurants will never reopen, which will eliminate a lot of those jobs. Similarly, the pandemic has disrupted education at all levels, and the effect of that should be hitting hard in five years. I doubt that air travel will recover, even in five years, putting a lot of people in that industry out of jobs, which will in turn result in reduced factory work for people in the supply chains of that industry. So, there will be some winners and some losers, but I think the losers will outnumber the winners.”

HOPES: “Lots of places have discovered that sometimes online work, including meetings and conferences, can work particularly effectively. This will mean less commuting, lower pollution and (for a lot of people) less stress.”

WORRIES: “Working from home is a double-edged sword. It’s harder to make social connections with people online, which will reduce teamwork and loyalty, probably resulting in higher turnover, and ultimately a less committed society in general.”

The chairman of an investment and strategic advisory firm observed, “The coronavirus has some idiosyncratically-specific effects, but is largely accelerating and/or exacerbating trends that were already underway – relevantly to this question, the consolidation of many sectors of the commercial and economic landscape, and the growing inequality that will accompany that. Digital technologies will surely be more centrally important in most lives than they were before the pandemic (even if less than at the height of lockdowns), with the resulting increase in the subjection of Americans to surveillance capitalism. A new administration – nationally and in several currently-red states – could set the stage for regulatory and fiscal moves that might soften (even redirect) these forces, but even if we shake free of regulatory capture, we’re likely to find ourselves hamstrung by fiscal constraints (created by the economic impact of prolonged pandemic) that will be bad at the national level, worse at the state level, and worst at the local level.”

HOPES: “My hopes are for: 1) regulation that protects the rights and privacy of users, and 2) technologies that are genuinely, authentically inclusive and enabling of civil discourse”

WORRIES: “…The absence of those things.”

A well-known sociologist and expert in the evolution of digital society said, “Less in-person contact. Especially with people who are not neighbours.”

HOPES: “Easier video connections.”

WORRIES: “Surveillance.”

A well-known technology researcher and writer commented, “It is difficult at the best of times to make social advances. The pandemic has strained systems in all sorts of ways, and society has not responded well. It will be harder to make advances, even using technology. Privacy, in particular, will be under threat as intrusive technologies are ‘justified’ on the basis of tackling the pandemic.”

HOPES: “The main benefit has been the realisation that people do not need to work in offices – they can do much at home. This will potentially allow them to save time by not commuting, and they can spend more time with their families.”

WORRIES: “See previous comment about privacy-harming practices.”

A journalism professor emeritus said, “The new normal will be a society more paranoid about casual human interactions – handshakes, hugs and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in theaters, restaurants and airplanes. Shopping malls, cruise lines, hotels and international travel industries will shrivel with the survivors becoming less affordable to the average person. Online banking, online shopping, streaming entertainment, telemedicine, videoconferencing, virtual work teams and working from home would likely emerge as new normals, at least in Western societies. These changes may have dramatic impacts on transportation and urban life in particular. And they could result in fewer people finding it necessary to live in central cities or to commute long distances into central cities to work. Climate change impacts are going to interact with the COVID-19 disruptions and our digital evolution in ways we can’t fully anticipate. Yet, it would be naive not to expect more coastal flooding, more droughts, food shortages, water shortages, global instabilities/migrations and extreme weather events. By 2025, we’ll be wrestling with how to best redefine how we live, work and play far more seriously, and urgently, than we seem to be doing right now. And we’ll still have the headwind of how to deal with the economic impacts and with resistance by those who want to hang on to the status quo. How, or if, we’re able to deploy new digital technologies and AI to create opportunities will be key to determining if we have a viable future or not. Our collective interface with the world will come, largely, via mediation rather than human interaction. And AI will play an ever-larger role in that mediation as it finds applications for routine health screenings and diagnosis, finance, sales, training, audits, quality control, R&D, education and, of course, warehousing, transportation and manufacturing. And with this ubiquitous reliance we will be at even greater risk of cyber security threats, job losses for millions and core infrastructure collapse due to geomagnetic storms, for example. Yet what seems like an inevitable march toward the deployment of AI will run headlong into an educational system not able to respond fast enough for populations that need meaningful work or to the social and political disruptions resulting from our health safety concerns and the environmental crisis due to climate change. Not to mention political instabilities – by 2025, we could have global collapse or be on our way to improving the lives of everyone on the planet.”

HOPES: “AI will be used to create more accessible high-quality health screenings, health monitoring, diagnosis that reduce health disparities so that health professionals can serve all patients with greater accuracy and more humanity. Nanotechnology advances for drug delivery, viral and bacterial infections; treatment of cancers, heart disease and blood disorders. 3D printing advances to make printing of human organs, tissue, skin grafts, etc. become common and affordable globally. Energy production and storage technologies emerge with cost and environmental impact advantages that make fossil-fuel unprofitable and quickly obsolete. Fusion reactors become a reality and quickly replace fission reactors. Technological advances in energy storage and collection that make solar power affordable in developing countries. Technologies related to construction materials make deforestation unprofitable and unnecessary. Major infrastructure and technological investment in high-speed maglev rail systems to replace air travel in high density regions. Technological advances in high-quality food protein production that could largely replace animal and fish protein production, all of which come with huge environmental and ethical costs. AI can be deployed as one-on-one tutors for all school-aged children. Homework can become something done in conjunction with an AI tutor/educator/coach so that disparities in the home do not become barriers to educational achievement, and students can learn at a pace that motivates rather than alienates and discourages.”

WORRIES: “Concentration of ownership. Becoming captive to a few providers who can exploit their monopoly power with impunity. Exploitation of behaviors, medical histories, genetic information, etc. in ways that affect employment, insurance coverage, financial opportunities, etc. The inability to get off the grid every now and then – a total surveillance society where every movement is monitored, measured or manipulated.”

A journalist and industry analyst expert in AI ethics said, “Technology is becoming far too intrusive and we are allowing it to happen. We have already become a surveillance state. Going completely digital is exciting and also dangerous, in my opinion, because it makes people and organizations more vulnerable to attacks. While there have always been divisions in society, people are now being manipulated into them artificially which only adds to what happens organically. I, for one, am deeply active in AI ethics, however, ‘we’ operate too slowly as groups and there is so much money and power at stake that bad actors will have an advantage for the foreseeable future. Humanity is self-destructing. Only we can save ourselves. The ‘new normal’ is a society that’s more divided than it has ever been in history. Already we’re recording every breath, every step, every heartbeat. Every thought is next. Digital tools amplify everything that we do, but we don’t stop to think about what we’re doing in the bigger picture, and it’s going to be harder to do the right things for society at large when the mindset is individualism. There will not be one ‘new normal,’ but several. Most people on the planet will be disadvantaged, though not to the same degree by automation, economic structures. And downright control mechanisms that favor the few at the expense of the many.”

HOPES: “Focusing on technology may be the point of this, but in my opinion, that approach misses the point. Until we value the right things (humanity as a whole and its wellbeing), technology cannot solve the world’s problems itself. It’s simply a tool. There’s a lot of room for innovation and creativity, and even more room for oppression until we change our thought patterns. Technologically, we’ll achieve things we never were able to do before, such as AI-brain connections, nanotechnologies, AR/VR/XR, autonomous robotics, etc. Could all of those things be used for good? Yes. But again, we must evolve our thinking if the good is to outweigh the bad.”

WORRIES: “It’s scary to think we’re becoming so dependent on something that can be disrupted so easily by bad actors and strong electromagnetic pulses. We’re being forced to conform to the digitization of everything, which is separating people from each other, enslaving them, facilitating mass manipulation and oppression. The focus during my long career in Silicon Valley and Sand Hill Road has been the art of the possible (innovation) and fast economic returns. This is not a sustainable model moving forward. Hence, my second full-time job, which is AI ethics (someone has to fight the good fight, even if it is idealistic at this point).”

A law professor and former dean of a prestigious U.S. law school said, “Entertainment and the arts will be much reduced both in live form and in what can be shared digitally. Massive unemployment and reduction of face-to-face contacts in civic, social, religious, medical and other settings will diminish continuous interpersonal relationships.”

HOPES: “Better and universal access to high-quality educational, medical and legal resources.”

WORRIES: “Elimination of reliable local news media and trusted accountability journalism; migration of good jobs to outside the U.S.”

A law student based in South America commented, “Socialization will be forever affected. Technology will the most important form of acquiring knowledge.”

A leader in telecommunications based in New Zealand wrote, “More and more administrative and routine tasks will no longer be performed by human beings. Employees will have to learn new skills. Job security will be less about having a single employer. More people will be contractors or freelancers selling their skills to multiple employers. There is likely to be a new world view of COVID-19 suppressed or eliminated economies, and COVID-19 turmoil economies. In the COVID-19 turmoil economies, the drive to get businesses online will accelerate. Many people’s secondary hobbies and passive income streams will become their primary income as they seek to survive. Data will have currency. Blockchain technology will assist with the supply chain management and Internet of Things (IoT). Universal access to the Internet will be important. The barriers to digital inclusion, the ‘divides,’ will be experienced differently depending on who the person is, where they live and the other identities put upon them. Age, socioeconomic wellbeing, education level, gender, ethnicity, impairment and language may all be obstacles to inclusion, and some of these categories will overlap and exacerbate one another around the world.”

HOPES: “Affordable connectivity and accessible technology will be more freely available. Digital skills for displaced workers and our small businesses will help people cope. Accelerated by COVID-19, companies that design and build products with cloud-based technologies will be able to aggregate, intelligently transform and contextually present product and process data from manufacturing lines throughout their supply chains. The wellness industry will innovate as people will focus on being well to improve their quality of life and be in a position to fight the COVID-19 virus. Technology around at-home health monitoring will do well. Contactless services will disrupt the grocery and retail sectors. Expect robotic servers. Cloud technology will reduce the cost of data storage. The disruption in travel will remain, and this will mean greater uptake of augmented reality as people seek to escape the day-to-day.”

WORRIES: “Lack of transparency. Not prioritising individual rights when it comes to their data and security. Pervasive monitoring and surveillance. A move away from self-regulation to state-based regulation, which can create walled gardens. Trans-border data flows. Cost and upgrade cycles becoming shorter and shorter.”

An anonymous respondent experiencing the economic damage of the pandemic commented, “I have personally had to lay off eight of my fourteen staff members from a company that employs just under 1,000 folks. I expect to have to lay off more, but I may be next so that the staff can keep their jobs instead. Each of these individuals have at least a master’s degree, many are working on their PhDs. Most have told me that they will not continue their education because there is no way they can afford it. On the personal front, I have a son going to college as a freshman Fall 2020 and should be graduating by 2025. He has told me that if you aren’t in the medical field (he’s not, he’s going into theater) that there will be no jobs. He is most concerned about racking up $120K in student debt to get a degree that won’t mean anything. My daughter, going into her sophomore year at high school, is expecting a completely online experience from our public school. As she wants to be a teacher, she is using this experience to learn how to better teach folks via the internet. She is the most positive of all of us, mostly due to (her comments): no one wants to be a teacher, the current teachers can barely use technology in their rooms appropriately, forget online learning, and most students in our rural neck of the woods don’t even have internet access. Considering all of this, the new normal in my mind is the greater divide between the haves and the have-nots. Those that can get quality, high bandwidth internet connection, and those who cannot. We already see this today, but the cable, satellite and phone companies are competing to make money, not serve the public in a time of need. Quite depressing.”

HOPES: “Broadband internet will be available for all, no matter income and location. – Online teaching will become a part of bachelor’s degrees for teachers. Parents will become more involved in their children’s education instead treating school like a babysitter. Teachers will actually get paid a living wage.”

WORRIES: “People will not know how to function in large groups face-to-face anymore. – Emotional intelligence will spike downwards as people can’t connect or read each other through online meetings. People will learn to hide their true emotions and needs from their friends, family and coworkers on the other side of the camera. Tech companies and the government will have too much access to our day-to-day lives through tracking us and each of our online activities. Anonymity will cease to exist.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “We are headed into the perfect storm of diminished democratic processes, increased medical vulnerabilities, increased wealth and power disparity and the confounding effects of climate change. The five-year period will encompass significant changes for the worse for the vast majority of people in the world. Those whom currently control wealth will use every means at their disposal to maintain their position and that will include the use of AI and private security (effectively private armies). It will be difficult to determine the difference between public assets such as police and military and assets of control at the behest of what will effectively become a new ‘ruling class.’ The vast majority of humanity will exist as wage-slaves and have little resilience in the face of dramatic environmental change. A consequence of climate change and human’s desperate attempts to maintain a semblance of quality of life will be the development of further niche/novel viruses. Not factored into this are the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by rogue states. I’m hoping that such events will not occur in the next five years because they would usher in a cataclysmic demise of much of humanity. Thanks for asking.”

HOPES and WORRIES: “On a good day I hope that the likes of AI and related robotic technologies will be used for the betterment of humankind. Then I get real. Unless politics is driven by large-scale community involvement and accountability, those whom wish to maintain power and wealth will use their current position to grapple control of emerging technologies so that they can use them for their own betterment. There will be minor concessional bleeds of high-quality technology to the majority, more as distractions and entertainments than things which make our lives better, richer, more rewarding or gratifying. Corporate tracking of individuals will be endemic, and consortia of these corporations will collect data and predictions about individual humans. Organising resistance to such a megalith will be quite aspirational.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “Increased reliance on the internet for basic services (groceries, medicine, retail) and work will increase social isolation. In turn, this will decrease emotional wellbeing and pro-social behavior. I think that the way employers view employment options will change the most, and there will also be a decrease in privacy due to employers forcing themselves into employees’ private homes.”

A longtime leader at top U.S. print/online news organizations responded, “The economic recovery from the pandemic will be a painful slog, and we may just be getting back to a full strength by 2025. Many of the jobs that have vaporized this year will not come back. There will be exponential growth in virtual work and learning. For workers, there will be a premium for employees who are technologically savvy, self-starters and entrepreneurial. The commercial real estate industry in major cities will still not have recovered by 2025.”

HOPES: “Dramatic growth in artificial intelligence will make our lives easier and will eliminate friction points in how we use technology. Our highways will be much more populated with self-driving cars and trucks. The trucking industry, especially, will shed thousands of jobs. Renewable energy will be much more prevalent and affordable.”

WORRIES: “Privacy concerns will rise as technology and AI become more deeply integrated in our lives.”

A post-doctoral researcher studying the relationship between governance, public policy and computer systems observed, “The pandemic entrenches existing social structures and the monopolization of the market economy, while also revealing these phenomena and exacerbating the precarity of modern American society. It is possible that the pandemic will serve as a catalyst for making changes necessary to improving life, but by 2025 it seems unlikely that so many changes will have taken place. Still, there are hopeful signs in the protest movement and the rapid shifting of Overton windows on many topics, so one must hold out hope, even while being realistic. From a technology perspective, the rapid shift to work online has made the powerful players more powerful and entrenched. Much of technology usage depends on people’s understanding of how to use it, and we have jumped fully into the deep end of the pool well before having learned how to swim. For example, life for many people now revolves around online conferencing, but how to integrate such conferencing into organizations is not widely understood. Similarly, the economic conditions resulting from the pandemic limit the capacity for small business to fight established business, and also create new economic imperatives for the adoption of existing technologies. Together, these forces entrench established players and hurt new entrants and competitors. There is an opportunity to counter this with policy, though it is being squandered.”

HOPES: “It is my hope that we can find ways to better integrate technologies, organizations and policies to realize the long-held dream that it is possible to use information technologies to improve communication among people while enabling control over personal information. This would enable the promise of information technologies while limiting and controlling the risks. It is not at all clear that the market supports such constructs, however, but I have to hope it does, and to attempt research and development in the direction of that goal.”

WORRIES: “I worry that companies will dictate the metes and bounds of computing access and data control, robbing individuals of autonomy in service of their bottom lines. I worry as well about the abuse of technologies like social networks to further disintegrate social fabrics in liberal democracies, especially because I don’t know how to push back against it.”

An internet policy researcher said, “More people use will use technology after being ‘forced’ to during the lockdown. Not all, but more employers will see the benefits of remote working (cost-wise); which may reflect both as positive and negative on employees as employers expect more availability from workers if they are not in the office (working at night, weekends, holidays, etc.). This will reflect badly on work-life balances. I expect the new normal to also increase number of workers in the gig economy which means more job opportunities but less benefits and social security for workers. Slowly more companies (and individuals) will understand the vital importance of cybersecurity as cybercrime rises with increased digitalisation.”

HOPES: “Telehealth and remote learning will gradually improve with more widespread use. This can allow more disadvantaged/remote populations access to previously unavailable services (hoping the digital divide is addressed during the process).”

WORRIES: “The increased importance and prevalence of tech and tech companies (and the lack of education and transparency of tech company policy and practices) can result in communities (even governments’) increased dependence on these companies (some of which who are already global monopolies). The fact that the managers and employees of these companies who decide on practices and policies are not elected yet they have such great impact on how more than half of the world’s population is worrying.”

The principal architect for a technology company noted, “Many people will be unemployed. Right-wing governments are removing the safety nets, leaving people to fend for themselves when they cannot. Tech workers and information workers will be able to remain employed and work from home, creating a divide between those who can work and those who cannot. Tech and internet will not help restaurant workers, service workers, or those laid off by government cuts. So, the ‘new normal’ will initially be OK for tech workers, but much worse for others. The world will become less safe for all as crime increases and terrorist activity from white nationalists increases.”

HOPES: “The most important changes will be to suppress disinformation and the manipulation of opinion by malicious actors. Facebook must be controlled; they must stop spreading hate; they must stop allowing bad actors to spread lies.”

WORRIES: “People are believing absolute garbage as though it were fact. Old social norms would ridicule people for silly beliefs, but new social media allows people to find like-minded believers and amplify.”

A professional journalist and teacher who specializes in science topics observed, “The U.S. failure to respond adequately to the pandemic is going to exacerbate inequality and erode critical institutions, especially schools and higher education. We will be poorer than we would otherwise be, and less well-placed to influence events at home or internationally.”

HOPES: “Better touchless tech. Perhaps some tech-enabled improvements in transportation. But the essential social pathologies exposed by the pandemic are not themselves that susceptible to meaningful tech intervention. It is conceivable that meetings and professional travel will change for the better, but that’s far from certain.”

WORRIES: “We are already enmeshed in a surveillance and marketing/social control nightmare. That will get worse.”

A professor at a major global school of economics predicted, “The effects of the pandemic will exacerbate and make more explicit social inequalities and the ever-increasing widening gulf between an elite and the rest of the population, both within countries and between them. There will be an increasing reliance on digital technologies to conduct even more of the activities that used to be community or face-to-face. This will result in increasing personalisation, increasing surveillance, a decrease in personal autonomy and an increasing asymmetry between global, state and commercial actors and the population at large. In the field of education – my area of expertise – schooling will become ever more a process of individualised competition for a dwindling supply of employment opportunities unless significant steps can be taken to reassert the social and civic value of schools as institutions in democratic societies. The increasing reliance on personalised learning at the expense of other kinds of educational values and activities will become evident. Whilst this could lead to an increase in different ways of organising curriculum, classrooms and learning opportunities, the pandemic seems to have only brought into the open that schooling has a fundamental role as a childcare institution with concomitant consequences for reproduction of stratification social equality.”

A respected professor of engineering and information science on the board of ACM Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction noted, “Inequities in access to wealth and resources are already a major problem in January 2020 before COVID-19 hit the world. Those existing political and economic forces, combined with climate change, were already poised to increase difficulties for those not among the most fortunate. The pandemic is exacerbating this by undermining those who achieved precarious economic independence. On the other hand, it does seem to be undermining populist autocrats, the one silver lining.”

HOPES: “First, I hope we have a vaccine soon, and that given the new innovations in molecular biology, and the intense focus on finding a new vaccine, it may be of a new type that is easier to manufacture and covers COVID-19 infections more broadly. Second, I hope that remote meetings for work will be more widely accepted far into the future, thus reducing travel and greenhouse gasses. I assume we will develop better interfaces for remote meetings over time given the increasing demand for this. Third, I hope that new advances will be made in (possibly biological) tools for removing plastics from the air and water, and breakthroughs in alternative energy production and distribution will continue. I have less information about help for ensuring clean and available water, which is poised to be a significant issue.”

WORRIES: “I worry about people’s lack of support for institutions and for enlightenment ideas generally. We are experiencing a period of instability and upheaval concomitant with the rise of social media distributed by for-profit monopolies. I assume the companies will eventually be held responsible, but I do not know how society will be reshaped by this change in communication. I think its role is underappreciated right now. Looking forward to the next question, I’m not particularly worried about AI; those who work in the field know that it isn’t the algorithms to worry about, but how public policy is determined and deployed.”

A senior engineer and systems expert said his worries are due to, “Exacerbation of economic, racial and social disparities coupled with increasing xenophobia among certain groups in the U.S. The effect is social and political isolation, and polarization linked with economic decoupling.”

A senior policy analyst wrote, “The pandemic has accelerated the shift to more digital activities, like telework, online learning and telehealth. In the short term there will be some pain, especially in areas like education where long-standing resistance to online learning has created an environment ill-prepared for such a rapid change.”

HOPES: “The pandemic has put a renewed focus on efficiency. Businesses that survive the pandemic will be more productive, more innovative and create higher paying jobs.”

WORRIES: “Congress is still not paying enough attention to cybersecurity. Cybersecurity should be treated as a public good. It is not enough to leave it up to the private sector to solve.”

A senior research advisor in social psychology wrote, “Technology and automation will take a lot of jobs in the service industry away. Many people at the bottom will be stuck.”

HOPES: “I hope tech-related changes will make it easy for people to connect, but I think they will probably just make it easier for businesses to be efficient and we will lose even more social connection with others.”

WORRIES: “Training is very uneven, exposure is very uneven, need is very uneven. I worry that the poor and elderly will just be forgotten. Most people will move on with their lives and some people will never work again.”

A senior research scientist and expert in complex systems said, “There will be immense economic damage, as well as an enduring sense of fear. The use of technological alternatives to physical presence will be embraced for cost reasons, as well as out of fear.”

WORRIES: “Technologically supported remote work will, over the longer term, cause psychological harm.”

A sociology professor, consultant and director of a university center commented, “There are positive changes for everybody, such as the clear awareness that pollution isn’t inevitable, that commutes could be shorter, that people could fly less and still have meaningful meetings. That being ‘slower’ and spending down time that is not highly scheduled. That maybe we don’t need to eat out in restaurants every day and instead of healthier (?) homecooked meals. But, when one considers the consequences of educational attainment, especially for those with fewer resources, learning disabilities; and the wealth destruction/wealth transfer; the blow to government and public health credibility, it’s hard to say things will be ‘mostly better.’ Oh, and ultimately, the amount of death and long-term if not permanent results even for those surviving COVID-19 are difficult to measure. And these things would likely have happened even if we had different federal leadership, although the current inept, corrupt mobster-in-chief is clearly exacerbating the problem. So now, the new normal. It will have less travel, less eating out, more reliance on remote technologies. It will hollow out the entertainment and travel industries. It will create a large level of really hurting Americans, a real pull on the resources, so I expect that the level of poverty in the U.S. will skyrocket, as will homelessness. I don’t think these things will happen in other developed countries.”

HOPES: “There will be less travel, more remote meetings.”

WORRIES: “Obviously privacy issues are a worry. If Zoom, for example, accepts advertisements on free accounts, then monetizing that information will be far too tempting.”

A technologist, executive and programmer responded, “The pandemic will never really go away – it will linger and continue to infect a baseline number of people, as well as mutate creating new waves each flu season, and herd immunity will never be achieved (in the U.S., at least) due to too much opposition. That means those who do not wish to be exposed will be indoors a lot more than before; continue to eat out and travel much less; socialize and recreate from home; and dive deeper into VR and spend even more time online. Economic security will also slip away from many who have those today, and never recover for others. Avoidance of hospitals will cause birthrates to drop substantially, leading to further funding crises for public schools. Immigration to the U.S. will drop & emigration will rise as we remain sicker than the rest of the world.”

HOPES: “Cheaper, more immersive, better-working-for-everyone Virtual Reality gear that allows more and more people to escape the sorry state of their own local environment.”

A technology industry analyst predicted, “The average person will likely be permanently more suspicious of close physical encounters with other people. Zoom and other online meeting formats will likely permanently replace travel to in-person meeting locations that are not absolutely necessary. Giant conferences like CES will undergo permanent changes, and middle aged/older adults will not attend. Routine face-to-face visits for older adults with doctors for follow-up will be replaced with ‘tele’-visits. The marginalization of older adults will worsen as they (and their families) become cautious about encounters. COVID-19 has been an enabler of ageism and an excuse for social isolation – technology has made that isolation worse.”

HOPES: “The reduction of power that big-tech companies have over consumers – due to (some) government pressure, their monopolies will be challenged. Each of the biggest companies need real competitors and/or to be broken up. When you think ‘shop online’ is a synonym for Amazon, posting online video = YouTube, search = Google and social network/community = Facebook, it’s time for change. If the government can’t deliver a change, then the consumer must at least consider the online Walmart, Vimeo, DuckDuckGo, NextDoor and otherwise vote with their feet to look elsewhere.”

WORRIES: “Scams are ever more creative – preying on older adults who are socially isolated and hopeful when the phone rings. When one is stamped out, another has emerged. The telephone, once a device for social connection, has been taken over by scam marketers. Expect this to worsen by 2025 – the scammers invest more in innovation than any oversight organization will. Voice-enablement of devices will continue and improve in accuracy and quality. But all will stall if Wi-Fi in the home doesn’t reach those with the lowest income.”

A managing partner at a financial group commented, “We will have more technology-based relationships, versus high-touch, face-to-face interactions, which will be worse for relationship development overall.”

HOPES: “Medical advancements, robotic advancements in delivery and services, auto, traffics and air quality safety.”

WORRIES: “Privacy invasion, life-sustaining decision-making vs. human decision-making on right to life issues.”

A medical nanotechnology innovator responded, “I see a significant decrease in travel, social functions and professional face-to-face meetings which will have effects on interpersonal relationships and networking in one’s profession. I see much fewer opportunities for new graduates without traditional work experience to gain a foothold.”

HOPES: “I see some improvement of ease of use in online commerce (for example the Zoom experience dramatically improved over the last few months). I see more application of ‘AI’ applications, though many have not been thoroughly validated or vetted. My hope is improved digital life, which will no doubt occur in some areas, but will remain ‘clunky and error prone’ (grocery delivery) and in many cases may add cost once these companies must turn a traditional profit (e.g. venture funds are depleted). I also see expansion of gig economy, which adds flexibility but not necessarily increased pay or benefits to those employed.”

WORRIES: “One concern is invasion of privacy and lack of alternatives to a complete online economy.”

A network architect for a major technology company responded, “If the new normal involves remote meetings as the primary means of professional and social interactions, it will lead to greater isolation, loss of productivity and learning and higher levels of anxiety and exhaustion.”

HOPES: “I’m not sure tech changes will play a role in improving the situation – I think technology-enabled interactions will continue to improve in quality but will not be able to replace in-person interactions.”

WORRIES: “There is already an over reliance on technology to provide social interactions, especially for children and young adults – I worry that the ‘new normal’ will only further cement this unhealthy trend.”

A North American futurist/consultant responded, “People will have much less belief of what the experts say due to the Trump administration’s attempt to downplay the public health issues with the pandemic.”

HOPES: “I hope for federation across all electronic touchpoints (smart phones, laptops, desktop computers, etc.).”

WORRIES: “I worry over lack of privacy, intrusions into watched media.”

A North American research scientist predicted, “There will be more expectations about people’s availability to work outside normal working hours, which will provide opportunities for flexibility and increased productivity, but erode people’s ability to set boundaries between work life and home life. Employers will nudge employees to be expected to engage in work activities like answering email and Slack or other team apps outside of their normal working hours. Schools will likely also keep some form of remote education which could assist in helping students self-pace and do additional practice, but I think remote resources will continue to widen the equity gap in public education as resources for students who do not have internet access at home or computers at home is unlikely to be meaningfully changed. Isolation that began during the pandemic will continue for years afterward and people will not return to socializing freely. People who are most vulnerable are likely to be more deeply isolated and forgotten. The wealth transfers and economic dislocation experienced during the pandemic will propagate for decades.”

HOPES: “The pandemic expanded people’s comfort level with doing some things online or virtually they may have been reluctant to do before. Remote conferencing and virtual meetings could reduce burdens and costs associated with business travel that could make life easier for people who have traditionally traveled frequently for work. If the distributed workforce becomes long-term, it could provide an incentive for cities to invest in high quality, equal access broadband infrastructure, especially if people do opt to move to smaller communities and away from large cities. Cities, particularly small to medium sized ones, could attract talent and money by providing infrastructure that supports remote work.”

WORRIES: “Invasion of privacy and supporting the surveillance state are two big concerns. The amount of information already collected and exploited about private citizens is disturbing. If the pandemic creates a framework for sharing this information about movements globally, then governments that do not provide the same expectations of privacy could exploit information about people’s movements. Technology companies have no reason not to sell very personal information to governments and companies outside the U.S.”

A noted academic leader, teacher and author at a leading U.S. university said, “The proportion of retail consumption done via digital technology will have accelerated dramatically from the pace of the pre-2020 years of this century, and brick and retailing will have shrunk greatly. Economic services will thus have become far more concentrated, and manufacturing will have become far more concentrated due to the use of robots. Human interaction will have grown more digital and less face-to-face in the old, non-digital sense. Unemployment will have become more frequent. However, if political leadership moves left, economic insecurity resulting from the new economic situation will have been ameliorated by nearly universal safety nets and healthcare.”

HOPES: “I have little hope outside of the likely enhanced breadth of access to digitally delivered arts and entertainment. I have very little hope if safeguards against cyber war (e.g., collapses of the electrical grid) are not in place.”

WORRIES: “Concentration of information sources and this enhanced risk of mass disinformation beyond the extent already realized by powerful ideological zealots of many persuasions, preponderantly conservative ones. Catastrophic cyberwar.”

A participant in the activities of the Internet Engineering Task Force observed, “I will be a mixture. There will be work-pattern changes, and, in particular, flexible working; working at home more, working around children more, will be more permitted. This is great for people, especially younger people who research shows most value flexibility of work. The impact on certain sections of the economy, however, in particular those for leisure: travel and tourism, and the arts, is going to be felt long-term. It will take much more than five years to return to funding in arts to create a ‘less gray’ world. Finally, serendipitous professional and social development, meeting people in person coincidentally in conferences, or social situations, for example, is completely lacking now, and the opportunity cost of this to people’s lives, as well as development of products/companies/solutions, will still be feeling felt in five-plus years’ time.”

HOPES: “Video conferencing and other tools for remote working will get more normal and prevalent, and ideally more interoperable. Technology to allow remote experiences will likely grow, to allow immersive experience of arts and tourism remotely.”

WORRIES: “A lack of interoperability between technologies mean people get siloed. Strong influence over the promotion of new things to do, may reduce the availability of these things as barriers to entry to the market become higher and are set by the technology companies.”

A pioneer in venture philanthropy predicted, “First, so much of what 2025 will look like will be a function of this year and the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. With that overriding caveat, here are ways a ‘new normal’ may unfold: – Virtual communications/interaction and digital services will be more dominant and pervasive, from healthcare to education to retail and other areas. – We’ll have even greater online retail and more services provided via ‘networks’ and ‘apps.’ – Blending of in-person and virtual will be more prevalent, maybe even defining in how we view work, learning and living. We could end up with major overcapacity and material vacancies in retail and commercial buildings. – Increased technological surveillance, intentional and otherwise, will threaten civil society and individual rights if there is not major policy reform. – AI/ML will make material gains in providing analytical/diagnostic services for medical, educational, etc., but cultural mores and beliefs will continue to limit adoption. – ‘Contempt’ will continue to limit our political and governance systems, making it more difficult for the nation to approach our biggest challenges with any sense of uniformity. – Climate changes impact will continue to increase on the already material way it has led to massive damage, loss of lives and properties from raging forest fires, devastating flooding, more severe storms, radical temperatures, etc.”

HOPES: “There will be greater access to education and learning. There will be improved access to more-effective healthcare. There will be better quality of life, but the problem is that these gains will be unevenly enjoyed and may cause the equity gap to worsen.”

WORRIES: “While this is a general statement and not applicable to all, the ‘arrogance’ of leadership, the flawed premise that technology inherently good (versus amoral or agnostic) and seeing life from their bubbles vs. the reality of the masses poses great risks.”

A professor of journalism based in the UK commented, “There will be greater inequality between rich and poor, privileged and underprivileged reflected in access to healthcare, work, decent food, housing, etc. I think in the UK (where I live) there will be significant deregulation to deal with the combined economic impact of COVID-19 and Brexit leading to poorer environmental and food standards and employment protections. I think data privacy will continue to be eroded under new technologies, legitimate tracking apps and the advances of AI which most of the public will not understand. Weak media literacy will continue to undermine public debate and democratic institutions.”

HOPES: “Track-and-trace technology, although raising privacy issues, should allow pandemics to be better managed. I hope that ethical frameworks may come into play around tech development with civic and social impacts being considered as well as economic value. I am not optimistic, however.”

WORRIES: “The major tech platforms are unaccountable and uncontrollable. Regulation is needed. Their shareholder profits should not determine weakening individual privacy, the damage caused by misinformation and disinformation to our democratic institutions and public debate. AI has the potential to be positive – but not if profit is the driving criteria for its application.”

A professor of law at a major university in the U.S. commented, “The COVID-19 panic seems to be further driving ahead part of a larger cultural move towards much more emotion and much less thoughtful discourse. The ‘Karen’ phenomena, and other public shaming of people by claiming extreme results from mundane ‘failures’ of etiquette, escalating ‘not wearing a mask’ to ‘you are killing people,’ is leading to an acceptance of radicalization and these faulty chains of logic in more areas (or perhaps it is just becoming more obvious that this is happening). There is also a much greater acceptance of authority, even when the authority approves of mob actions which is, from the outside, a move against the authority itself. Maybe people should wonder if mobs against authority which are approved by those authorities are actually against the authority. We are moving into a world where a new elite, the 3% of people shouting on Twitter and other services, control the direction and agenda of nations. Since Twitter is primarily concerned with engagement, they float emotional content to the top, driving the move towards viewing the world from within a purely emotional bubble. It’s a very worrying development. Post-COVID-19 and riots, people will be constantly worried about losing their livelihoods and families, which is going to have a major impact of family and business formation. People are going to trust government officials less. I can only hope people view technology, in particular anything based on neurodigital media (such as social media), with a great deal more suspicion. I fear, however, that we are far too dependent on these technologies to make any real changes here, even though we may be starting to mistrust them. People will continue to use these technologies en masse, and with little thought for what that use does. One interesting trend I’m starting to see is that some younger folks have stopped putting their lives online – becoming lurkers rather than performers all the time. This is a healthy change, if it takes hold.”

HOPES: “I hope technology makes it possible for people to come together even though they are geographically separated, particularly in the realm of spreading truth. Increasing the ability of people to live longer, fuller lives should positively impact communities and culture as cultural memory might impart some wisdom over time.”

WORRIES: “The drive towards viral content is destroying rational conversation. I don’t see why this should change.”

A research director who co-leads an Ivy League university’s digital life center said, “In 2025 expect: 1) Economic inequality, already greatly exacerbated by increasing adoption of digital technologies (among other trends) will increase amidst the pandemic, and where we will feel the effects for a decade+. 2) The economic delta will underscore the access, skills and training difference between digitally skilled workers and those whose jobs may be more precarious, whether susceptible to automation or structural changes in the market because of the pandemic. 3) People will be increasingly reliant on technology, but technology will further fragment concepts of labor into Amazon Mechanical Turk-style tasks – parsing micro tasks to distributed workers and uncoupling workers from safety nets like benefits and unions and entirely separated and erased from the fruits of their labor.”

HOPES: “Better outcomes will result when human action and expression can be supported by AI-based tools, rather than replaced by AI. A primary way of making life better in the coming years is for us to figure out a way to meaningfully and transparently audit algorithms, create explainable systems, and identify and implement regulatory safeguards in order to address the significant power asymmetry that current exists between the private sector and all other actors in tech.”

WORRIES: “Technology companies have both the resources and data to reinforce their own power and to impact the behaviors of millions of users around the globe. The unchecked concentration of power worries me the most. I am also worried that no one has a full picture of the magnitude of control tech companies have across domains, including the overall market, as well as communities in government, research and civil society.”

A business executive wrote, “Things will be worse for the average person in the Western world. The virus affects people of color disproportionately and exacerbates the current class inequities that come with a service-based economy. There will be more trust in digital mediums of communication including both information and financial transactions. It will lead to greater costs across our economy as prices will subsidize the increased infrastructure without price capping.”

HOPES: “Multi-factor authentication will make information access safer.”

WORRIES: “The technology companies are market-setting cartels in which the public has no material choice but to ‘opt in’ to services with exploitable backdoors and policies that allow for hate, disinformation and retribution to occur.”

A machine learning designer/user researcher, artist and digital anthropologist observed, “It’s hard to weigh better or worse. Maybe society will learn how to be healthier, travel less, think about our footprint on the environment, help service workers more, provide better health care and universal basic income. But is it better if thousands and thousands of people die? It’s an awful equation to try to grapple with and weight the outcomes. Our new normal will feature many more seamless video conference tools and more ways to connect and play, and not structured in the way Silicon Valley makes tools that then people don’t really use. Peoples’ interactions will change to just naturally use more digital tools. More events will be online. I could see, especially in the U.S. There will be more of a lack of privacy. I hope people start to think more about their privacy.”

HOPES: “I hope conferences and events continue to be online, that workplaces let more people work remote. I hope people realize a lot of our ‘expected’ or ‘insisted upon’ face-to-face interactions can actually be digital and be remote. I hope the shift to remote continues in 2025.”

WORRIES: “I’m worried we’ll have a lot of poorly made and leaky technology, in terms of data privacy, and poor privacy generally.”

An anonymous designer and technologist said, “The ‘new normal’ in my mind is just the acceleration of trends seen in recent years, economic centralization, more of a gig-based economy for the lower class workers with little to no labor protection, an increase in the digital economy (a reduction in physical retail and restaurants). Resulting in a deeper fracturing of the middle class becoming less stable, and the upper middle class experiencing a better livelihood through this new modern economy. While we will see economic centralization, we may see an increase in the decentralization of the workforce. Places like San Francisco, New York and Seattle have unsustainable infrastructures, massive income equality, incredibly high cost of living, as the workforce becomes more remote the builders of this new centralized economy will escape to the suburban, x-urban, and even rural communities, but this will not likely be enough to create a balanced economy.”

HOPES: “I hope to see: Technology companies building for diversity (making life better for black and brown communities). Gig-based economy workforces organize and form labor unions to ensure these jobs raise the quality of life. A greater awareness of the mental pressures constantly on devices and teams bring into our lives. A technological regulatory body in the U.S. Government An international consortium for technological ethics globally to ensure technologies are not continuing the exploitation of millions globally.”

WORRIES: “A deeper ego-driven economy. An out-of-control information highway where fact and fiction are completely indistinguishable. Deeper divides in understanding of other cultures and perspectives with nation-states creating more walled gardens.”

An anonymous journalist observed, “The pandemic spurred a necessary move toward individual and family isolation that, although important to reduce the spread of COVID-19, will create less connection and community among people the longer it persists. I expect people will continue to isolate due to perceived convenience as much as safety considerations yet not fully weigh the consequences of their willingness to live and work nearly completely from their own homes.”

HOPES: “The end of social media, the ability to block being tracked by tech companies and government action to end Internet companies’ impunity that allows them to have no responsibility for the content on their sites. But I don’t think those changes will actually happen, but the world would be better if they did.”

WORRIES: “The amount of control and influence they have, and the way people are willing to hand over their own thoughts and impulses and opinions to be so easily shaped by corporate interests and others who really don’t have a stake in the individual’s own wellbeing.”

An anonymous respondent said, “The advantaged classes will depend more heavily on technology and the work of the service economy, but many people will struggle with the long-term economic consequences of the pandemic. I hate to be a pessimist but fear that society will become more fragmented, less visceral and more routinized. Privacy as we know it will become a high-cost service only a few can afford.”

HOPES: “Telework, telemedicine and other technology-enabled activities will improve many aspects of life for the advantaged classes.”

WORRIES: “Although a bit overstated, the surveillance-economy vision Shoshanna Zuboff has described will continue to erode privacy and manipulate and control human behavior.”

A business consultant commented, “Society will probably overreact, and leading organizations will probably over-digitize our lives. This is not better.”

HOPES: “People worldwide need to spend less time with tech and digital technologies. The more we interact with humans, the better we all seem to do mentally, physically and as a society.”

WORRIES: “Our technology leaders are not being good stewards of the landscape when it comes to AI. Greed takes over. The want and need to be first outweighs that which is best for the people.”

A chair of computer science and engineering at a major technological university on the U.S. West Coast wrote, “The worldwide economic dislocation is likely to last much longer than 2025. Life, for most, will be worse than it would have been without the pandemic. At a technical level, the loss of productivity will slow the pace of change, but only modestly relative to what would have happened anyway, and only temporarily. The effect of the pandemic on the rate of uptake of technology will be minimal – in-person interaction will continue to be preferred. Global warming concerns will have a far larger impact by five years from now.”

HOPES: “I hope for more education for all on every subject. This isn’t primarily a tech issue, but students want to learn what is useful to the, and we will eventually figure out that is an important human right. To date, online learning has been seen as a cost-saving measure to deal with the growing expense of college education. We should rather view it is as way of speeding the dissemination of knowledge – crucial to economic growth.”

WORRIES: “Technology has a well-known bias towards monopoly and monopsony. Governments can fight back against that but it they have been largely losing the race.”

A chief marketing officer said, “Most people around the world do not have access to remote technologies. Globalization is happening, and trade) is the major balancer between the poor and the rich societies. So, for the time being, some will suffer until they catch up much later. Logistics, manufacturing and outsourcing will be limited. Many will suffer in the poorer regions.”

HOPES: “Technology will make life better for the rich societies. The U.S., EU, UK, Australia, etc. will improve the standard of living for all citizens since work/life balance will be improved exponentially. Fast improvements against racial and sexual discrimination will be seen as well.”

WORRIES: “Privacy!”

A chief technology officer who works in government predicted, “There will be a much lower population density, a collapse of mass transit and an end to social gatherings (movies, theaters, conventions).”

HOPES: “Anti-gravity.”

WORRIES: “Complete loss of personal privacy.”

A co-founder of an award-winning nonprofit news outlet noted, “Unless there is dramatic political change, life will be worse for 95% of people primarily because wealth and income inequality will have gone from bad to even worse. That said, the needed political change to stop this from happening is unlikely because democracy has been so thoroughly compromised. The will of the people cannot be manifest through the current system.”

HOPES: “The current political economy of the tech sector virtually guarantees that it will be a prime agent of making things worse. Tech is controlled by a tiny stakeholder group who seek primarily to enrich themselves. The public has little control over platform monopolies that are more rich and powerful than most nation states. Until the sector is democratized and/or monopolies broken up, the trends we see now will worsen.”

WORRIES: “The power asymmetry is between tech companies and users invites exploitation. It’s very dangerous, and a prime threat to freedom and democracy. The threat is primarily rooted in the political economy of tech, not in the technology itself.”

A digital society research group leader based in the UK observed, “The impact of the virus directly in terms of deaths has fallen disproportionately on the poorer-off in society. The economic fallout will do the same. The new normal will favour those already better off.”

A director at a center for geospatial intelligence wrote, “Service industry workers and small family-owned businesses will bear the brunt of most of the pain. The economic shock waves will continue to ripple out across both society and the global economy. There will be larger and more-impacted geographic areas of poverty and social injustice – particularly in the urban areas. Rural ecosystems of life will be fractured and split, causing disruptions in food distribution. On the positive side, workers will conduct more work from home, which will cut down on emissions. This also has the potential to better family-life and relationships within families due to just being ‘home.’ There should be a widespread and direct acknowledgement of the need for fiber broadband to homes across the nation and a concurrent wholescale investment in high-speed internet access as it has become the new infrastructure for commerce and business – it needs to be treated as a federal-highway-system funded project, possibly funded in a like manner through taxes based on use (fuel taxes). Health care accessibility will become a huge problem as hospitals, particularly rural hospitals are forced to close and specialized services must be concentrated.”

WORRIES: “Isolation and depression of individuals as technological advances put up new barriers to real human interaction and relationships.”

A director of global partnerships for a major digital organization commented, “Five years from now I would hope that we have identified a vaccine or effective treatment for the COVID-19 virus and the pandemic will have receded into a ‘lessons learned’ event. However, the social, educational and economic impact of the pandemic will last a generation. Deficits in education and the ripple effect of lost opportunities will follow the students and those displaced from the workforce for a lifetime. Regardless of the technology available, not everyone has equal access and not everything can be done using technology. Digital technology will be even more ubiquitous and intrusive. Technology needed for public health tracking and safety will lead to potential misuse in some employment and regulatory settings. The need for things like temperature monitoring and contact tracing – critically important in the time of pandemic – will acclimate people to a lesser threshold for public/private divide and fewer expectations of privacy. The need to change face-to-face work, play, socializing to online engagement will change the comfort level with technology – in some cases this might permanently change our expectations of travel and the need to move around. People may get out of the habit of communal activities such as group entertainment, attending live performances. On the other hand, we are already dealing with ‘Zoom fatigue’ and extended cabin fever which might trigger a rejection of virtual engagement. There is a saying that ‘technology keeps us close to those that are far away and far away from those that are close’ – in reference to the tendency even before the pandemic for people to text instead of talk. So, while the ability to reach out using technology is a positive outcome, the impulse to reach out may be stifled as well. Technology can help overcome social isolation and therefore improve well-being, and it can also exacerbate isolation and distort the ability to make connections. Not all employment can be done online, but for those jobs that are enhanced or enabled by technology, the flexibility of the ability to work from anywhere will lead to the expectation that we will work from anywhere and at any time, bleeding work into all aspects of our lives. Technology may create new jobs, but only for those with the requisite skills. Others will see an erosion of economic security as the disruption of the pandemic damages their educational and employment progression. Damage to the hospitality and travel industries cannot be replaced by technological advances.”

HOPES: “Acceleration in telemedicine, a change in collaboration and knowledge sharing and research platforms brought on by the need for global coordination to fight the pandemic and the search for vaccines and treatments. Educational opportunities through online courses and more widely shared information.”

WORRIES: “Sensors and monitoring decreasing privacy; a very poor record of security practices leading to more damaging data breaches; ever increasing ‘cloud storage’ making all vulnerable to loss of sensitive data; over-intrusive work processes and expectations making employees accessible at all hours; a profit culture monetizing personal data without the knowledge, understanding or informed consent of the individual.”

A director of research into privacy and security responded, “It will be a mixed bag –some things will be better and some things will be worse. For example, some people may find freedom in the technologies that enable them to work remotely, and perhaps some companies will more readily embrace such arrangements. On the other hand, the pandemic’s push towards remote working arrangements also seems to further erode the work-life dichotomy, which has been steadily weakening since the Blackberry and web-based email were introduced. People may mind that they are even more so ‘always on’ because they never truly leave the office. We also need to acknowledge that whether a working from home arrangement is welcome or not, it likely brings with it some complicated questions about privacy in the workplace. Is it acceptable for employers to monitor employees working remotely? How will workplace norms shift with respect to personal privacy? What types of collisions might we anticipate as work and personal life is commingled, or will there be ways to erect firewalls between the two? Then there are the security challenges that come with this new digital environment. In pushing a workforce remote, the normal threat surface grows exponentially as work and home environments merge. Adding complexity and connectivity of this sort has generally led to less security, not more. We might as well anticipate that our home networks will now become more appealing targets to those looking to find ways into employers’ networks, and we ought to expect some collateral damage in the process.”

WORRIES: “In the 1990s, Congress consciously considered whether and how they might regulate internet companies on problems like privacy and data protection. They ultimately demurred on this question, reasoning that the private sector would know better than the government how to respond to these issues as they arise. Privacy on the internet has largely been self-regulated in this way for the better part of three decades, and it’s only become more obvious over time that letting this remain an ungoverned territory is not wise. Yet, the future is likely to bring with it ways to interact with each other online, and thus more intermediaries and opportunities for companies to be in positions with access to individuals’ digital existences. Most concerning is that we don’t have great solutions for how we should govern privacy despite having the benefit of several decades’ worth of debate about it. Laws like Europe’s GDPR provide at best an incremental improvement over the status quo while competitively disadvantaging small and mid-size companies.”

A distinguished professor emeritus of political science wrote, “First of all, we do not know how long the virus will last. If Trump is reelected, it may go on for a long time and completely disrupt American life. If Biden wins, the question is whether the spread will be so great that it will take a long time to recover. Many businesses will die if the former, and even with the latter. What will change the most is life for service workers. Professionals will probably be able to go virtual.”

HOPES: “Internet connectivity may improve sufficiently to help many but service workers will be hurt.”

WORRIES: “Will innovation help everyone, or just those in jobs that do not require you to be present and interacting with others?”

A former user-experience researcher for Amazon and Microsoft observed, “Inequality will be amplified due to this crisis, just as it was in 2008. The safety nets of Europe and Commonwealth countries will blunt that somewhat, but the United States will be even more unequal.”

HOPES: “Climate change affects us all. Can technology help us make this transition to a warmer, more volatile world?”

WORRIES: “Authoritarian tendencies are palpable in most areas of the world right now. Technology is no neutral tool; it is already enabling this trend. Civil liberties are at significant risk.”

A founder and president who is an expert on shared social goods in the digital age responded, “Economic and health inequalities will have reached almost unbreachable dimensions in the U.S. The fall of the U.S. as a democratic project, global force and economy will mean that the whole globe will still be adjusting to these shifts five years from now. Ethnonationalism and populism are more likely than progressivism to still be reigning. There will be more people in poverty, especially in ‘advanced’ economies. Global migration and refugee numbers will surge. Climate change, economic crises and war will expand. More middle class families will fall into poverty. There will be atomization, as more people work from home and lose connection with people outside of their workplaces and families.”

A futurist and consultant based in the U.S. predicted, “The new normal will roll back some of the re-urbanization of the U.S. of recent years, putting more emphasis on private cars and car-dependent suburbs. It will hurt some of the arts, such as the legitimate stage, for which the digital substitute is not really an equivalent. There will be more remote work, which is probably good. Privacy will be a bigger problem, though, with more cameras, more monitoring, more cracking. Also, more fake news and abuse of personalization.”

HOPES: “Migration away from insecure internet. More emphasis on quality than volume/price. More reliability, rather than more features and crashes.”

WORRIES: “Too much intrusion. Too much ‘big data’ becoming Big Brother. Too much access to that data by government and businesses.”

A futurist and consultant who founded a Canadian strategy network noted, “We will have to deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic, the extent of which is still unknown. Governments will have to manage deficits for many years to come. This will lead to government downsizing and reductions in government spending. Large businesses may be better able to weather the storm than small ones. Amazon is actually growing during the emergency. Online businesses will do better than bricks and mortar. There will be faster adoption of robotics and other forms of automation. This will increase job insecurity.”

HOPES: “There will be an increase in working from home. This will reduce traffic congestion, connect people to their neighborhoods, and provide new options on where to live. Work hours will be more flexible. More time will be spent with family. This may accelerate the fourth industrial revolution, where centralized factories are automated and ‘workplaces’ requiring people are decentralized to smaller groups or work from home. Technology will enable this change.”

WORRIES: “Technology will become more pervasive and more deeply embedded in the economy. The largest companies will continue to grow through increasing returns becoming even larger monopolies. The fourth industrial revolution will be accelerated by the pandemic.”

A futurist based in Brazil said, “A new civil contract will increase personal surveillance, people will be increasingly dependent of digital technology, but with the advent of IoT and other new developments based on digital technology, the threats to personal, corporate and national security will increase. As jobs get lost – mainly for self-employment – more people will turn to online working, looking to sell their services or products rather than looking for nonexistent jobs. Generally, there might be a reduction of the cost of living, as there will be less demand for living in overcrowded cities. Products will be ordered online and sold directly by the producer.”

WORRIES: “Monopoly over digital services, data collection, use and abuse; increased surveillance and dependence of non-elected entities.”

A globally based researcher of digital communications issues commented, “No jobs, no mortgages, little prospects to do better (or even as good) as our parents.”

HOPES: “Very few. As tech becomes more important for everything, including the provision of government services and goods, the neoliberal affordances of these companies are transposed onto public life. In practice, this will mean a gig-ification of society, where precarity is the norm.”

WORRIES: “That public life becomes privatized, with fewer accountability and recourse still.”

A Hong Kong-based researcher and data scientist expert in COVID-19 and political polarization commented, “Online teaching will be routine in schools.”

HOPES: “As more human activities go online, more data will be accumulated, which will be useful for making peoples’ lives easier through the use of AI.”

WORRIES: “Privacy concerns and digital surveillance by the governments.”

A political science professor expert in media and international affairs responded, “More dependent on technology, yet less aware of the dangers it poses to privacy.”

A political scientist expert in gender politics predicted, “The digital divide will worsen without extensive government intervention. Government intervention will also be necessary to help provide housing protections against evictions and repossession. Work will become more all-encompassing, as those working at home will struggle to set time and day boundaries on work. Clerical and other administrative work that can be done remotely will increase and intensify, as employees will be pushed to take on more work with no wage increases – unless government acts to increase the federal minimum wage. Union organizing will become more difficult. In-person social isolation will cause related mental health and happiness problems that cannot be resolved or replaced with technology.”

HOPES: “I hope that there will be meaningful virtual access to family, colleagues around the world, to healthcare providers. I hope we will benefit from  more-rapid sharing of research outcomes, especially in regard to health.”

WORRIES: “I worry that technology will not be able to replace in-person interaction and that rich social interaction will be seriously diminished, with increased individuation. I also worry that individual personal privacy will disappear.”

A professor of criminal justice wrote, “Virtual interactions will replace a lot of face-to-face interactions, and that will profoundly affect social relationships and social skills.”

HOPES: “The good thing is that tech companies will be forced to simplify and improve software and user interfaces. It is no longer just geeks who are using the technology so it needs to be simple and seamless. Virtual reality and virtual projects will help.”

WORRIES: “Obviously, privacy is a huge concern and every interaction being possibly recorded is not great.”

A professor of digital economy and culture based in the UK responded, “We will be fatigued by a screen culture of constantly managing ourselves on the screen. The new social will be about an even more intense engagement with virtual norms and modes of being online as ‘presence.’ We will be very attuned to the screen as an interface, yet quite irritable about always being remote but ‘available.’ The screen, through convergence and smart devices, promotes a sense of ubiquity of presence online. The fatigue of screen presence will be something we will have to manage in the long run, and it will induce its own modes of stress and presumptions about offering ourselves as visual moving images to others. In the process, a lot of our private and intimate settings become available to others. This visual re-articulation reinserts and encodes a new politics of presence through the face, its absence, sounds, pauses and silences.”

HOPES: “Remote working will be more acceptable, and we might get better at listening to others. There will be reconfiguration of work patterns through everyday routines rather than patterning work through fixed times. This flexibility may work for some and not so much for others. We will envision work by making sure it is captured and archived for others to use at different times.”

WORRIES: “Our dependence on technologies and treating them as part of our lived encounters means that we allow corporatization of our lives and data. With technological platforms as an important part of our sociality we will pledge more of our emotional labour to these without stopping to think how much data and content we create for them and keep these in circulation through our networks.”

A professor of earth science observed, “There will be new jobs/career fields that people are not trained for, and the training programs won’t exist for (education/training does not adapt that quickly and respond to the immediate demands). And we have clearly seen that we cannot pass new laws/policies or even enforce existing ones for the health, wellbeing and sustainability of our nation. We won’t react fast enough, and even when the vaccine arrives, there will still be losses.”

HOPES: “Communication; supply chain; medical breakthroughs; working from home.”

WORRIES: “How much is being tracked/stored without our knowledge.”

A professor of economics at a major U.S. university responded, “We will become much better at using technology for communication in our professional lives. I am not sure personal communication will change much from what it otherwise would have been.”

HOPES: “I hope that we will better integrate technology in the delivery of educational services.”

WORRIES: “I think that young people already rely too much on technology for social interaction.”

A professor of international security at a major U.S. state university wrote, “With the usual caveats about predicting the future, it seems fairly clear that all of the major trend lines with respect to social effects of technology are negative. There is, as yet, no good solution for the problem of misinformation and digital propaganda. I don’t expect that to change, and the low barriers to entry suggest that more countries and nonstate actors will adopt these techniques to undermine the stability and social cohesion of countries with which they experience disputes and conflicts. It should be noted, as well, that governments (including democracies) are increasingly deploying these techniques on their own electorates to suppress the vote and mold public opinion in the interest of retaining power. The balance between state interests and corporate profits, on the one hand, and human rights on the other hand, is also deteriorating fairly rapidly with only a few signs of improvement.People will likely continue to use technology that pervasively gathers very intimate information on them and shares that both with companies (most of which, for most people, will be foreign firms not subject to any realistic potential for oversight or regulation by their own government even if that government is democratic) and with the state, which may well pose a serious threat to the individual’s personal safety and security. Automation and artificial intelligence will continue to disrupt employment opportunities and earning power, at the same time as states face diminished capacity both from broad economic trends and from the current pandemic. So, people facing reduced economic circumstances will have little realistic prospect of meaningful public assistance.”

HOPES: “The hope shouldn’t be placed in technology, but rather in the governance of that technology. For meaningful, effective governance to take place for global technologies, however, the governance needs to be above the level of the nation-state, at least in important part. That demands a capacity for international cooperation and coordination that we have seen little sign of, outside the limited example of the European Union, which is also under considerable political strain. Put simply, there isn’t much of a realistic basis to believe things will get better in the foreseeable future.”

WORRIES: “The stark imbalance of power, the limited understanding most people have of the technology and (crucially) of its social effects and the difficulty of providing nation-state level governance of a distributed set of global technologies.”

A professor of mathematics and computer science commented, “I fear COVID-19 will still be with us. Social distancing will be the norm. Jobs and entertainment will be remote as much as possible, not onsite. People won’t physically interact with other people. Things like real in-person dating other people will be a thing of the past. The future looks grim.”

HOPES: “Improvements over Zoom. Uniform interface so that it’s easier to interact with anyone.”

WORRIES: “No particular worries. We’ll have to rely on technology more than ever before.”

A professor of psychology who is expert in how people learn new information, both true and false, predicted, “The ‘new normal’ will involve more remote work opportunities. As companies figure out the benefits and drawbacks to working from home, I think more will decide to keep employees remote or to drastically increase the amount of time spent working remotely. This, on the whole, will likely lead to benefits for both employees and employers. The reason I think things will be worse in 2025 is because of the large inequities in education. With schools closed, middle-class-and-above parents will seek out individualistic solutions that allow their children to continue their education. However, other students will be left behind, and as wealthy parents continue to leave the public schools, the schools will become even more underfunded and under-resourced. I’m very worried that this will lead to the end of publicly funded K-12 schooling as we know it. The lack of publicly funded in-person preschool and elementary school will lead to large gender inequities with many moms either moving to part-time or quitting in order to provide childcare. Even when in-person school does restart, the interruption to parents’ careers will be felt for years. Virtual conferences will become a new normal with most conferences offering both in-person and online activities. The online sessions will be appealing to those who are unwilling or unable to travel due to caregiving responsibilities, climate change concerns, cost, etc.”

A professor of robotics and mechatronics based in Japan wrote, “1) All individuals will be monitored in the name of crime prevention. Even if we expect to balance safety and privacy, we cannot maintain it. 2) A society in which efficiency and economy are prioritized will advance. The transformation of the craftsman’s skill and judgment will become more sophisticated, and labor-saving autonomous technology will be widely adopted. People will lose jobs. The gap between rich and poor will expand.”

HOPES: “Educational support: I would like to see the development of technologies that support not only the acquisition of knowledge, but also the ability for people to think and judge for themselves.”

WORRIES: “Technology companies that hold a monopoly on information and knowledge create inequality of opportunity.”

A professor of sociology responded “The economic impacts of the pandemic will still be felt by many, particularly already marginalized groups. It has also hastened the implementation of various forms of workplace surveillance (e.g., recording meetings and classroom conversation) and it will likely also hasten the collapse of conventional employment in favor of a gig economy.”

HOPES: “I expect most of the positive changes we see will be about increasing convenience (for some) rather than diminishing inequality.”

WORRIES: “It’s more a question of which individuals. Facial recognition software, for example, is already being used by law enforcement and border patrol agents to profoundly limit the freedoms of sex workers and persons without documents. Platforms are already banning discussion of sex and LGBTQ identity as a result of FOSTA-SESTA’s expanded liability for ‘promoting’ or ‘facilitating’ prostitution. With the state and corporations expanding surveillance and limiting protections for marginalized users, the liberatory potential of digital tech is diminishing while, at the same time, existing social inequalities are being further exacerbated.”

A professor of urban planning said, “Any resistance to virtual life and the corporate platforms that own it is melting away. Many of the subtleties of how physical spaces and institutions cue social dynamics and cultural production could be dulled.”

HOPES: “The lockdown has already helped many people realize what they were always getting out of the built environment, interpersonal presence, and civic participation. My hope is that many will return to all this with renewed vigor, and that in the process they will learn to resist the predations of the attention economy.”

WORRIES: “The greatest worry might be that first wearables and then brain implants could replace handheld devices, creating a whole new kind of digital divide and leaving ever more people incapable of appreciating unmediated existence.”

A program director at the U.S. National Science Foundation responded, “There will be much more suspicion/lack of comfort with face-to-face engagement, especially with people unknown to one another. I fear this will enforce/entrench divisions in society.”

HOPES: “Better teleworking. Better teleconferencing.”

WORRIES: “Social-networking monocultures, with a few huge companies managing all content we have access to.”

A program manager for a major U.S. technology company commented, “While COVID-19 is teaching some people how to use the internet to work, play and live life on a more global scale, the enormous economic disruption caused the virus will deepen the digital and educational divide. I fear a cascade failure as more and more children fall farther and farther behind those in more equitably provisioned countries, leading to more under-/unemployment, poverty and social unrest.”

HOPES: “I’d like to believe that the pandemic will force a more available, more stable and more useable internet, perhaps mandated and implemented by governments as a public works project, to enable education and other services to be accessible to the public.”

WORRIES: “Tech companies are caught in the crosshairs of a changing world of their own creation. Access to technology is increasingly required to learn, work and access services in first- and second-world countries. This suggests that this access should be affordable to every in a society in order for the society to function. Does this not then suggest that said access should be as available and affordable as water, power, roads, sanitation – and financed as such through taxes? If digital access becomes a public good, will not the profit margins be smaller, driving more and more of these companies out of business? If that happens, our infrastructure crumbles.”

A public policy expert in poverty studies commented, “I am very concerned that the pandemic will widen gaps between the rich and poor, Black and white. Differential access to technology is one of the mechanisms through which I am worried this will happen.”

HOPES: “The pandemic has taught us that some things that seemed infeasible are actually possible. The expansion of telemedicine, for example, has the potential to increase access to health care providers in previously underserved communities. Likewise, in higher education, remote access to student support services, if continued after the pandemic could increase support available to students who are trying to juggle work and care responsibilities with their studies.”

WORRIES: “I worry about the way differential access to technology will reinforce inequalities in society.”

A research scientist wrote, “I am seeing a disturbing increase in the polarization of online interactions, mostly as a result of so much interaction being on social media. I don’t see any way the polarization decreases, or even stops increasing over the next five years. Too much of the ‘new normal’ means less in-person human interaction, which seems to me to be the best type of interaction. More online everything is not good for society.”

HOPES: “The most hopeful I am about tech-related changes are in the areas of healthcare. I’m hoping that apps, software and data analytics will help people lead healthier lives. The best defense against any pandemic is a healthy lifestyle.”

WORRIES: “My worries are related to social media. Social media seems to be a net negative for society. The social media companies have too many incentives and the algorithms are optimized to provoke emotional responses from people. Also, I don’t like seeing so many children using social media so often, rather than having more in-person interactions and just ‘turning off.’”

A research scientist wrote, “2025 will bring an increase in disinformation, the erosion of sense-making information apparatus, an increased suspicion of science and the erosion of civil liberties.”

HOPES: “Digital collaboration tools enabling distance working.”

WORRIES: “Tech companies incentivized to attract ‘eyeballs’ and attention make disinformation likely. I worry about tribalism and polarization. I worry about the lack of true alternatives for certain digital capabilities.”

A research scientist based at a major university in the U.S. Midwest responded, “People will stay further away from others, especially strangers, for a long while. They will be further behind economically, with merchants and landlords trying to make up for fallow periods during the pandemic. They will feel ‘set back’ psychologically for a period of years, experiencing an uncertainty, a general malaise.”

HOPES: “People will use Zoom or related tech among family members more often, allowing larger family gatherings than FaceTime. Workers will use Zoom or related tech to allow for more working at home.”

WORRIES: “I worry it may become either too expensive or too advanced for some, cutting out the poor and the elderly.”

A research scientist who works at Google wrote, “The economic fallout from COVID-19 will be large (much larger than the U.S. government predicts), and extensive both inside and outside of the U.S. Since the economy is global, the knock-on effects will linger for at least a decade, reducing quality of life for millions (lost income, lost opportunities for employment, etc.).”

HOPES: “AI will have a profound effect, although not in the ways that Elon Musk and other doomsayers predict. Instead, many small AI-based changes will come into our lives. Better cars (although I’m not optimistic about self-driving cars until at least 2030). Also looking for important biotech developments – the most influential ones will be in energy (bio-driven conversion of stuff into fuels) and food development. People might not like genetically modified food options, but they’ll eat them when they’re hungry and looking for calories.”

WORRIES: “Biotech worries me a lot. In particular, rouge nation-states or unethical biohackers might release terrible diseases (no, I don’t think COVID-19 is an example). It would be easy to wipe out 1 million people with a mistake, or to destroy an important crop with a plant disease. Along these lines, it would be relatively straightforward to target a specific ethnic profile with a disease, and that worries me. Tech companies won’t matter if this happens.”

A researcher in social media and children’s rights observed, “The disadvantaged will be even more disadvantaged if there are no political changes, and the financial strain will create economic hardship for those who have no secure jobs or are paid low wages. The health systems may seem to improve a bit, but not basically. Digitization will mostly be focused on working software and not necessarily on data-protection tools. Giving away data for health monitoring is becoming at the moment the usual – people get used to giving away their data freely on a sheet of paper in every restaurant, not knowing what will be done with these sheets.”

HOPES: “Shift of development into digitalized learning and surroundings creates less traveling (good for the climate) and more digital conferences, more in the home office (family-friendly settings).”

WORRIES: “Very few companies are those who manage everything data protection has experienced a backlash in the face of health protection monitoring digitization serves as an argument for reducing face-to-face work settings”

A technology policy expert predicted, “You will never get 100% vaccination rates. Besides those unable to be safely vaccinated (organ transplant recipients, immunocompromised, etc.), you will have the fruitcake Anti-Vax types, too. So, we have some vestiges of today’s SOP remaining. New Normal will have lower levels of work-at-home than currently, but far more than we would have gotten otherwise. Only the educated jobs are Zoomable; someone has to work the ER, pick the crops, run the slaughterhouse, collect the trash. So, the better-off cut back on commuting, while the less so stay the same. This further widens the deeper than ever blue- vs. white-collar gap that is a growing cancer on our society and stability. I don’t know if international travel will ever recover to past levels. Data security will be an ever-increasing issue; it’s HARD to protect machines out in the jungle. Voting by mail will continue to grow, with its positives and negatives. The plus is that it shall remain paper ballots, thus recountable. The minus is that it is possible to buy individual votes, but that is in unit quantities vs. corrupting a precinct voting machine and getting thousands at a time.”

HOPES: “More universal broadband access. More competition (i.e. alternatives to Amazon). More efficient servers.”

WORRIES: “We are social creatures. Zooming is a good economic stopgap but poor long-term substitute for face-to-face interactions. The worst case is children. K-8 schools teach little permanent ‘hard’ knowledge but should accomplish two goals: seeding a quest to really learn, and more importantly, providing social interactions of all levels; peer to peer, peer to adults, etc. (exceptions to the hard knowledge statement above are: learning to read, and if the classes exist, learning a second language as well. This is a very U.S. issue; how many non-U.S. kids learn only one language as children?). Assuming a two-plus-year delay for an effective vaccine’s worldwide deployment, that’s a big gap in a child’s life. We have to confront the megacorporation issue. NOT just at the application level (Google, etc.), but far more importantly the connectivity one; Comcast has a major chokehold on too many residences in the country. We need public roads at this level. Government and private surveillance will continue to increase unchecked. Bosses spyware will escalate.”

A writer, educator and editorial adviser said, “The pandemic will have emphasized the digital divide. I don’t believe that by 2025 societies will have yet figured out how to ensure equal access to technologies for the less affluent and privileged.”

HOPES: “Better digital collaboration and project management tools mean less commuting, which means less time wasted in transit and far less carbon footprint of daily work.”

WORRIES: “Too much screen time, too much sitting.”

An active leader in the Internet Engineering Task Force wrote, “Given most people’s aversion to change, I believe that once a vaccine is available for COVID-19, people will revert back to their normal modes of behavior. Much of this has to do with human nature and the need for in-person social interaction. However, the current state of social media will drive larger wedges between groups that have differing opinions on a wide range of topics. This balkanization, at some point, will result in a fundamental shift in the way internet technology is viewed. This could result in either the massive failure of social media platforms, or in large political efforts to regulate the internet ecosystem. If the latter occurs, I predict a massive technology arms race as governments develop regulatory tools and internet users develop/use mechanisms to bypass those regulatory tools. Any concerted attempt to regulate the internet at the national levels will result seismic shifts in the economic stability of the companies that build/manage/maintain the internet infrastructure.”

HOPES: “A key tech-related change that needs to happen revolves around internet access for all people regardless of their economic status. Currently, there is a large percentage of people who cannot utilize the internet in any way, and that leaves them underserved in a variety of ways. At a minimum, efforts to establish community-based internet access methods are needed to serve populations who are currently unable to access even basic internet services. I also hope that there is fundamental shift in how social media platforms are managed in order to address the misuse of those platforms in nefarious ways. I do not know if this will be a government-driven, regulatory framework or a recognition by social media companies that their systems are being abused and dramatically affecting their users.”

WORRIES: “Social media companies currently operate in such an opaque way that it is unclear just how much data they collect on internet users (not just their customers). If this type of information collection on people continues unabated, these companies will wield far too much power/influence in everyone’s day-to-day life. Even those of us who do not have social media accounts are subject to data collection by these organizations.”

An active member of the Internet Engineering Task Force observed, “I expect the economic divides across classes to be even greater and I expect those at the top of the scale to create barriers to protect themselves from the most damaged parts of what was once shared infrastructure and social safety nets”

HOPES: “Re-centering on research and science would be nice. Unlikely, but nice.”

WORRIES: “Increasing use of surveillance and targeted risk profiling to control users’ options and to suppress action or decent. See Hong Kong for an early warning.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “I see society becoming worse through COVID-19 in many ways economically, socially and culturally. In general, people will depend more on technology for work, shopping and personal interactions. People will become even more isolated, lonely and depressed. It is my belief that human beings need human interaction to live meaningful lives. With limited interaction, people’s lives will become less fulfilling.”

HOPES: “I hope that social media (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) become more civil platforms and less a space for division. I certainly do not want drones flying around my neighborhood dropping off Amazon packages to people too lazy and scared to go outside. Medically, technology may help us monitor our health and help deter the spread of viruses. It may also be used for contact tracing, but this has many privacy issues still to be worked out. Perhaps news outlets will become less extreme and share a more balanced view of important issues. Perhaps they might focus more on the good that is being done in the world or informing people how they can help better our world. Am I being too optimistic? :-)”

WORRIES: “Privacy. Monopolies, group mentality. Truly ‘fake’ news and misinformation. The continued ‘dumbing down’ of our society. Online education that is too easy. The inability to look up from one’s cell phone, let alone leave it in another room.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Some people will continue about their lives as usual: those who are wealthy enough to be able to afford to do what they want and how they want it – they will just do it online instead of in person, or fly on private airlines, or drive in private vehicles. And, those who are too poor and have to go to work regardless of the dangers – for this second group, there will be much more stress and worry, and perhaps no good internet. Other people will be far worse off: there is a third group of people who have already lost, or will lose their jobs, and not be able to afford rent, and in the U.S. at least, also then be evicted from their homes. And, a fourth group: those who are disabled, who have in some ways benefitted from many things moving online and being done from home – work, school, Broadway shows, performances, telemedicine. And who have lost some: harder to order groceries online because too many people are doing it, medications not being available, etc. And now that the U.S. has decided to ignore the pandemic and everything is ‘re-opening’ – telemedicine is ending, people have to go back to work and school in-person, and these accommodations are no longer possible again.”

HOPES: “Perhaps those who make technology-related decisions will choose to listen to disabled people who have been describing best practices across a wide range of technologies for a long time. Maybe businesses and higher education will enable people to learn via new tech models.”

WORRIES: “Technology is always seen as a solution to any problem, and I don’t see this changing – what this means is that tech/design companies will continue to take big problems and assume they can shoehorn them into any technology. Or they will create a new technology to ‘solve’ a problem that needs to be solved culturally or politically.”

An anonymous respondent predicted, “Huge debt = higher taxes and/or more constrained government budgets and slower growth. So not much worse off, but worse off.”

HOPES: “Remote meetings and information sharing take off. We can be in touch with anyone, anytime and establish and promulgate new social rules for virtual contact.”

WORRIES: “I worry about the co-option of social discourse by click-oriented media companies. Guy Debord’s ‘The Society of the Spectacle’ played out on Twitter and Facebook.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “Many more people will be working from home, but I do not think that homeschooling will remain ‘a thing.’ Distrust of technology will increase, as the general public becomes more aware of the nefarious possibilities of online commerce, internet connectedness (not the same thing as connectivity) and government surveillance. Economic insecurity will become even more a fact of life than it is now. Peoples’ use of libraries, museums and archives will go back to where it was in the Before Times, but with a greater emphasis and consumption of electronic versions, including eBooks, museum videos and digitized archives. Retail, in-person shopping will not die out, although the individual stores are likely to have different names than those with which we are familiar today. My main hope is that in five years science will have defeated the virus.”

HOPES: “A greater awareness of how technology can improve our free access to information and make life on early more sustainable than it appears to be today. Having said that, it will not be the extreme utopian vision of technology as savior that we (at least some of us) believed would exist when we were early adopters of internet technology.”

WORRIES: “The lack of boundaries. The prevalence of AI, ML and predictive analytics in decision making, ignoring the human aspects of the decisions. Alongside this, the problem of biased training sets. Too often technologists don’t even realize the data is biased as it conforms with their worldview. Technology companies don’t set out to be evil, but that is, and can be, the end result. I hope this overreach will be corrected by 2025, but I am not particularly hopeful.”

An anonymous respondent said, “My comments apply to the United States, where I don’t think there’s the political will to take steps to mitigate the economic woes that are consequent from the coronavirus pandemic, increasing economic stratification, at least in the short term. Technology is likely to continue to be less accessible to rural and marginalized populations (which is prominent among the reasons that we should be concerned about the Trump administration’s reluctance to include low-Earth-orbit satellite networks in the broadband subsidies program).”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “My answer considers more than technology in any narrow sense. And truthfully, I can’t really imagine the new world. Many occupations, modes of work and work organization will disappear, and some will be replaced by technology. Uncertainty has already bred suspicion and fear of others and world-wide, governments are mostly ineffective, and many countries are attracted to authoritarian solutions. Will that change? Will democratic movements become stronger? WE are at a critical point now. The after-effects of COVID-19 on human health are still unknown. Will health care policies change? Or will we become callous about the loss of life and the kinds of people at risk? Will cities lose their lure?”

HOPES: “That new technologies will open more interesting work lives for some.”

WORRIES: “That people will become more isolated, that privacy will be further eroded, and that politics will become more divisive and authoritarian.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “A lot depends on whether we have achieved herd immunity, whether there is a vaccine for COVID-19, or if there is more effective treatment of symptoms by that date. It seems clear that, barring those scenarios, we will continue to have diminished social interactions and all the adverse effects of a trailing tourism and entertainment sector, as well as declines in use of mass transit, and problems related to the uncertainty of safely working in an office environment. I think this will continue to be more negatively felt by communities of color, immigrant communities and communities plagued by systemic poverty than by other communities. Access to technology, particularly mobile technology, will be much more critical for these communities as a way to ensure participation in the marketplace and as a way to receive services in ways that are socially distant. If communities lack adequate access to Wi-Fi, broadband and mobile devices, how will they be able to access telehealth services, how will they file electronically for unemployment and other social service benefits, how will these children engage in the educational community? After securing a vaccine for COVID-19, this seems to be the most critical aspect of this period. Without access to digital technology, these communities will become even more disenfranchised and more likely to succumb to unemployment, lack of education and greater health disparities. In short, they will experience a greater decline in quality of life and life expectancy.”

HOPES: “We really need to ensure universal broadband access as a utility rather than a commodity. This is critical. Without this, whatever tech innovations we develop will only really serve to increase the gap between the 1% and the rest of the population.”

WORRIES: “We really need to ensure universal broadband access as a utility rather than a commodity. This is critical. Without this, whatever tech innovations we develop will only really serve to increase the gap between the 1% and the rest of the population.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “Intensification of computational and data governance driven by extracting value from systems of measure will be further consolidated. The social production of value will intensify, coupled with increased exploitation of informal labour (platform labour). Neoliberal, market-driven economic ideology will be slow to change. This is highly evident from where I write, in Australia, where the higher education sector is under assault after 20-30 years of increasing dependency of fee-pay students, particularly from international markets – China, above all. Conservative governments hostile to academic cultures refuse to address the significant funding cuts and job losses in the sector. Since the education sector is the second to third biggest ‘export,’ cuts in funding and jobs at universities have multiplier effects in adjacent sectors (housing, retail, services). University management is largely aligned, ideologically, with government, and for the most part have been passive in contesting government policy that amplifies deteriorating conditions. While nationally and ideologically specific, this sort of example can be scaled, and similar patterns will emerge in other countries and economies. Digital technologies underpin many of these developments and connect with data-driven forms of governance and economy. Other developments that seem likely with the expansion of AI/ML systems across economy and society: increased corrosion of privacy, expansion of workplace surveillance, algorithmic bias will continue in technology design. Meanwhile, encryption technologies and darknets will also expand; much political activism will shift to off-the-grid technologies or no-tech forms of organizing.”

HOPES and WORRIES: “More flexibility for some of those that hold onto a job. Increased costs of ‘work’ shifted from the organization to the ‘individual’ (domestic energy costs, home office costs, etc.) Organizations will benefit from reduced running costs; it will be unlikely that they pass savings on to workers in the form of subsidies or wage rises. My hope is for new communication protocols that evade technologies of control; for social life to be experienced in ways not subject to near-real-time forms of surveillance and data extraction. These hopes are unlikely to materialize, but I can still hope.”

An anonymous respondent said, “Young people (23 – 40) will not have jobs that allow them to be independent. The pattern from 2008 will reappear. This next generation of workers will end depending on their parents and will require social programs to support their needs. The national, state and regional governments will have major reductions in social services in order to balance their budgets.”

HOPES: “More services will be available online. XR solutions now are becoming the new normal. Since people cannot afford to travel, they now depend on virtual experiences.”

WORRIES: “More and more challenges with security and privacy.”

An anonymous respondent said, “After COVID-19, the economy will have to adjust and with high rates of unemployment, delays in bill pay, mortgage relief, there will be many individuals and businesses reporting huge losses.”

HOPES: “Tech will become ubiquitously used and some of the trends will continue in telehealth, commerce and business engagement, e.g., video conferencing.”

WORRIES: “What worries me is that we will not find balance and address the digital inequities that currently exist in tech access.”

An anonymous respondent predicted, “First, the major impact will be increased poverty. A serious step back from the continued economic progress we as society have experienced in the last 50 years. Second, the breach between social classes will be higher. Mobility among classes will be seriously threatened. Third, and as a consequence of the above, social unrest will boil up to a dangerous situation for peaceful organisation of work, family and politics. Fourth, technology will keep its pace, and will continue innovation. Its social prestige and reputation will be kept. This might lead erroneously to an undermining of philosophical and humanist thinking, and even a turn to the worst for social and religious values, that are now at the roots of our civilization, our normal lifestyle. New normal will be a disruption with this society. And it is likely to lead to a worse society. I do not see a major problem in privacy and public monitoring issues. I think technology can handle whatever requirements are and will be imposed by public authority on privacy. Certainly, people will need to be educated in operating new devices and acquiring new skills. This will be easily targeted by the education system. Employment and economic security will be the major problems. Not health.”

HOPES: “Little hopes and little changes. I do think that education and higher education need to be largely presential. Talking, leading and educating by example and friendship and social relationships. Internet and other telematics facilities will just keep helping in that process. But only helping, not becoming the major tool or way for education.”

WORRIES: “Companies making profit. Countries imposing a single ideology. The closing of our Western mind. Only a strong humanist leadership can prevent that from happening.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “For those who have experienced economic hardship during the pandemic, particularly those at the margins and/or those who have experienced the worst hardship, life will be worse in 2025. The economic downturn resulting from the pandemic will have set them further back in terms of earnings, access to education and physical and mental wellbeing. Regarding digital technologies, the divide will be broader than before the pandemic. Should schools provide technology to students, which remains an important question the answer to which is currently not known, that will not solve the access problem. The cost of access, missed socialization opportunities and daily routines will continue to negatively affect low-income individuals and families and may make the situation worse.”

HOPES: “No hopes for broad swaths of the American public.”

WORRIES: “Privacy is a major worry as is interference in American politics.”

An assistant vice president at a major American multinational telecommunications company observed, “Less gathering, less travel, more resources diverted into medical establishment.”

HOPES: “Ability to exist effectively without travel or gathering.”

WORRIES: “Tech will mediate more of our interactions – and insert its financial preferences and biases into the process.”

An associate professor of education policy studies based in the U.S. observed, “Unless COVID-19 leads to radical changes in socio-economic systems globally, it will have further weakened the financial and livelihood opportunities for most of the world, while consolidating wealth for the very few. It is an additional disease burden on top of many others in many parts of the world, and because it attacks different age groups and spreads differently than other major diseases; it knocks out a new set of people and social support systems. This is particularly true across Africa, and most particularly again, across Southern Africa. Digital technologies are of minimal importance for most of the world, so the changes aren’t around digitality, but instead around basic livelihood. In places like the U.S., digital access to information will be more and less important at once – more important to be able to avoid dangers, but less important in terms of trying to suss out the truth about any given threat.”

HOPES: “None, other than medical treatments for COVID-19. The digital divide consolidates inequalities and fake news (of the real sort) much faster than it consolidates equity and opportunity.”

WORRIES: “See above. I’m less concerned about privacy issues, primarily because I have a very low-tech footprint. But yes, obviously, surveillance mechanisms are again expanding more rapidly than technologies that support people and communities. No different than what capitalism does in other arenas – we still have no vaccine for malaria, but we have multiple treatments for erectile dysfunction.”

An associate programme specialist at UNESCO said, “Things will not be very different, still same worries.”

HOPES: “More electronic communication will reduce carbon footprints/help counter climate change. More flexibility for remote work.”

WORRIES: “Increased concentration of wealth and power. Exploitation of workers (factories, delivery, content moderation). Screens further replacing human interaction. Further proliferation of hate speech and disinformation, exacerbated by reduced investments in quality education.”

An Australian writer, philosopher and literary critic responded, “My answer was not based on anything to do with the use of technology. It was based on a view that people will generally be more fearful, especially about everyday physical contact and proximity.”

HOPES: “Communications will improve further. Productivity will increase. More leisure time will be available.”

WORRIES: “There will be more surveillance of individuals, more bubbles of information based on and increasing tribalism and there will be more jobs performed without the human touch – and just ordinary interaction between mutually good-willed people – that we’ve expected, and often experienced, in the past.”

An environmental psychiatrist and cultural geographer observed, “Populist totalitarianism is on the rise at an unprecedented unchecked rate. The internet, devices, corporations and the policies around them are fostering that injustice. A sea change is needed in the U.S. government, and sanctions should be forced upon many countries requiring that they do not succumb to China’s increasing hostile takeover of people, lands and a range of democracies. The defunding of U.S. higher education will have repercussions for generations, as the brain drain will hurt the U.S. In addition, the closing of schools and programs will allow for more manipulation of media and news.”

An ethics expert who served as an advisor on the UK’s report on “AI in Healthcare” responded, “While there are positive changes – more focus on nature and family life, more homeworking leading to less commuting, a greater awareness of mental health at work – these are in a context of increased stress, massive economic shock, in many countries decreased confidence in government competence, effectiveness and fairness and unrealistic expectations of scientific progress. There may be reduced contact with other countries through travel and exchange, leading to narrower horizons and greater misunderstanding. Digital technologies have assisted in some ways (video conference calling, for example, has been invaluable) but they have also contributed to more rapid exchange of negative information, such as conspiracy theories, and an increased sense of overlord and powerlessness. High expectations of what technology can achieve have been consistently disappointed, but privacy is being sacrificed in the name of technologies which so far have not delivered at all in most countries. And a focus on technology has distracted from more traditional public health approaches of proven effectiveness, particularly in the more individualistic and libertarian cultures of the UK, U.S. and Australia.”

HOPES: “I am sceptical. A reliable and effective test-and-trace system would be good but requires a good public health infrastructure to support it, which tech enthusiasts often forget. And machine learning technologies may be helpful in drug and vaccine discovery, spotting rare symptoms, and medium and long term follow up of test-positive cases. But otherwise, I am dubious that the current focus on digital is achieving much, and at a cost in terms of privacy and social media-funnelled anxiety and distrust.”

WORRIES: “I don’t see much understanding from the technology sector of real human’s lives, and I don’t think they understand medicine and public health at all. They are good at innovations looking for an application, rather than solving real world problems.”

An expert and consultant in education policy said, “More people will be left out when the economy recovers. The use of technology will make the socioeconomic gaps even larger. Finally, it will have a fundamental negative effect on relationships, emotional intelligence and our ability to communicate using expressions, tone of voice, body language.”

HOPES: “Development of effective delivery of educational content that reaches all, especially members of disadvantaged communities.”

WORRIES: “Misuse of private information, lack of appropriate security for stored information and further creating a divided country, without a shared understanding of facts, ethics and moral issues. Conversely, it will enable partial telecommuting for many jobs, freeing time for employees, decreasing stress from long-commutes and worries about childcare after regular business hours.”

An expert at a brain-science consultancy commented, “From a technology standpoint, I think the most likely negative outcome will be even greater acceptance of surveillance technologies in our lives, due to the need for contact tracing and the like. This will enable greater governmental authoritarianism, which is also directly triggered by the need for pandemic response – in our populist age, this is likely to lead to more authoritarian government, both from the left and the right. As well, there will be much greater job insecurity, due to the economic effects of the pandemic and pandemic response. This economic instability will lead to greater desire for governmental control in the economy hence to increased opportunities for rent-seeking and populist authoritarianism.”

An expert in economics and political science said, “Public transit is at risk. Lower- and middle-class incomes are at risk and may not recover. Failure to address privacy concerns in COVID-19 apps will increase the privacy risks (or increase the use of surveillance). The U.S. handling of pandemic increases division and divisiveness in society.”

HOPES: “Increase in tech for public good. Increased awareness of the digital divide and inequality in the tech sector. Increased awareness that technology is not evenly distributed in geography.”

WORRIES: “Centralization. Threat of poor regulation (no regulation, or regulation that makes the tech divide WORSE instead of better).”

An expert in global communications research said, “I’m worried that the digital divide will continue to grow, with the digital haves benefiting from new technologies, and the have-nots, both in rural areas impacted by infrastructure and in low income communities impacted by cost, being left out.”

An expert in information systems and cybersecurity said, “More surveillance and less privacy.”

HOPES: “Potential mitigation of the digital divide.”

WORRIES: “Too much dependence on internet companies.”

An expert in media management responded, “Fewer options on how to conduct business and daily routines. Less social interaction. Greater surveillance in all aspects of life.”

HOPES: “Greater access, lower costs, more privacy protections would help mitigate what is likely to be a greatly more homogenized yet fragmented world.”

WORRIES: “See above. What we see in behaviors is a reaction to the feeling that we have fewer choices, and that technology determines things – not people.”

An expert in network society and digital activism based on Australia noted, “People with diabetes test their blood sugar levels regularly. In 2025, I expect most people will have some sort of kit that tests for the latest set of problem pathogens and an app that securely and privately reports results as people pass through checkpoints like airports.”

HOPES: “I think miXed Reality (XR) glasses will report timely information about a person’s environment and let you zone out if you want to relax.”

WORRIES: “Micro-targeted advertising for any decision that someone needs to make.”

An expert in public policy and expert in the regulation of risk and the roles of politics within science and science within politics observed, “With a large portion of the American public refusing to take even the most simple, inexpensive and effective steps to protect the health of others, the social fabric of the U.S. as a ‘community’ seems to be unraveling. I’m concerned about social interactions in the future: will we look with suspicion at our neighbors and wonder if they were the cause of someone’s parent’s illness or death? Will the anti-maskers use consistent (il-)logic and decide that DUI is now a matter of choice and ‘personal freedom?’”

HOPES: “Many people are expecting the environmental impact of work to decline as we telework. I hope (!) that the tech people will do a better job of building the more subtle but essential forms of communication into online discussions.”

WORRIES: “‘Technology’ and technology companies can solve any problem! Don’t worry about contact tracing/privacy, or health privacy/work accommodations! Trust us!”

An expert in the future of information and communication technologies for development wrote, “Many authoritarian regimes will pop up and too many leaders will continue accept that because of their own interest.”

An expert in the security of large-scale networks commented, “I suspect we’ll have lost several years of economic growth, and many people will have experienced major setbacks (job loss, personal bankruptcy, loss of family) that will have an effect on their life that takes years to recover from, and in 2025 many people will still be dealing with that.”

HOPES: “Self-driving cars, telecommuting and more might reduce the amount of time people spend commuting (improving their quality of life) and number of lives lost in car accidents.”

WORRIES: “Polarization of opinion, driven by social media algorithms.”

An expert on AI, technological innovation and the future of law observed, “Technology will certainly become ever more embedded in the lives of those who can afford it. As much as people have been complaining about the disadvantages of working from home (many of which are, objectively, difficulties), I wake up every day thanking my lucky stars because I have a job. Many people lost theirs, and those were the categories of people historically disadvantaged. The new normal that I envisage, will still have large components of in-person activities (we are social animals), but technology will certainly continue to pervade every aspect of our lives. I foresee a greater degree of telehealth (again, for those who can afford it), more remote teaching in higher education, for instance. My gut tells me that in five years’ time, some degree of working from home will be more common in many ‘white-collar’ professions. Real estate, especially in large cities like New York, has been a premium for decades, and if large corporations can use a smaller office footprint while maintaining a strong workforce, I assume that they would move in that direction (something that was already happening before COVID-19 will now be accelerated). If the contact tracing apps do not fall victim of some hideous cybersecurity hack (a real possibility), the average person is likely to be even more glued to their own smart devices and (perhaps) feel more confident in using apps that harvest an ever-greater number of PII. Health apps will be all the rage. I fear that the average person will not care much about privacy, but I sincerely hope I am wrong.”

HOPES: “I hope that privacy and cybersecurity are taken seriously and are placed at the center of tech development.”

WORRIES: “My main worry is that we have jumped into an AI/IoT universe without really thinking about any implications. I am quite anxious about AI-based decision-making becoming ever greater, but no meaningful discourse about ‘ethical AI’ taking place (other than in the literature).”\

An expert on conflict prevention and peace predicted in 2025 there will be, “Greater economic dislocation, rising nationalisms, greater fragmentation of the global order, continued upending of global norms.”

HOPES: “More virtual everything, i.e., telecommuting, telemedicine, legal technicality, etc.”

WORRIES: “Privacy/surveillance issues, mining of personal data, use of tech by authoritarian regimes, exacerbation of tech inequalities (access to internet, etc.).”

An expert on culture and community based in the UK observed, “Problems associated with sedentary lifestyle. More expectations of availability of workers for meetings, etc. More surveillance. Less opportunity to network in down times. Exacerbating gender imbalances. Encroachment of work into the home environments.”

HOPES: “Accessibility of content. Wider availability of technologies. Better infrastructure. Greater understanding of how to manage work-life balance.”

WORRIES: “Surveillance and dependence/monopolies.”

The co-founder and coordinator of a digital grassroots organization based in Africa noted, “It appears things will get worse, because the digital divide has been exacerbated. It takes a lot more than access to get people to be equal.”

HOPES: “We might find new spaces beyond social media to interact.”

WORRIES: “It is very U.S.-centric. The debate hasn’t even moved to infrastructure and ownership. I am very pessimistic about digital equality.”

The director of a project exploring collective learning observed, “Economic opportunities will be even more concentrated in a few people. ‘Low skill’ service jobs will be reduced, and unemployment will be a prevalent problem.”

HOPES: “Technology should revamp our political system, through augmented democracy or a similar alternative. But we are far from having the civility in the public sphere required to work collectively in such a complex transition.”

The director of a public policy center responded, “I believe the pandemic is not showing the real health disparities in America. Many low paying jobs will not come back, and many will remain unemployed or underemployed. Those with mean and have sufficient technology will do OK and will be able to work at home with more flexibility. However, for many (particularly around the world), this will not be the case. Privacy, too, will take a hit, even from those with means. Tech companies will become more powerful and they do not often work for the betterment of person-kind. The rich tech companies and their stockholders in the U.S. will do fine. The rest of the society (80%) will be much worse off. I believe that more health crises will occur in the near future, and again the burden will fall mostly on the poor sectors of our society.”

HOPES: “There will clearly be technological improvements in the new normal. People with easy access will be better off as technological revolutions will ease their work, leisure and health. This will not be the case of many others.”

WORRIES: “Tech companies have such a strong profit motive (and have certainly been doing very well so far), but the coarsening of our society, hate speech, conspiracies, etc. being allowed to be perpetrated on social media is alarming. Most tech corporations do not have the best interests of the community in their priorities.”

The director of a technology policy incubator commented, “For white-collar: more use of remote work, allowing for more people to live outside urban centers. For blue-collar: continued in-person work and exposure to diseases such as COVID-19. Limited access to high-speed internet. There will have been a major economic downturn from which people are still recovering in 2025.”

HOPES: “Better work-from-home and collaboration tools.”

WORRIES: “More data collection as we all work from home more. The loss of small businesses as the big ones get overwhelming access to such data.”

The former vice president for technology at a major North American company wrote, “By 2025, things will be back to normal with socialization, music and sporting events. But the pandemic will set in motion a series of economic events that will further segment society, with a significant minority of people lacking adequate income, housing and access to technology. Technologies themselves will continue to advance and we will see significant changes in medical service delivery and in automobiles. We have yet to see the first ‘killer’ application of 5G, but it may well come with cars. Privacy and information security will continue to be major issues.”

HOPES: “Technology will make some services easier to use and access, particularly medicine and retail purchases.”

WORRIES: “The government and industry have no interest in protecting privacy and security, and this will continue to be a major issue, with financial fraud continuing to rise at double-digit rates.”

The founder, chair and CEO of a sustainable business commented, “I believe we are at a choice point, a point in time where anything is possible, and we can reconfigure based on where we want to go. The latter part of the question being ‘given how societies are responding,’ looking here in the U.S. we are at a boiling point of polarization. The level of intensity is one we haven’t experienced, and nefarious actors are taking advantage both financially and with power grabs. So, a lot of my answer sways in the immediate moment. In November, we will have an election. The outcome of the election will shift a lot. In the best outcome, we will reconfigure our food, energy and economic systems to allow for more decentralized and self-reliant systems. The potential to transition jobs is massive and I believe the divestment of $30-40 trillion is going to drive the outcomes of economic shifts towards ESG investments – which shall drive business. So, this pressure if offsetting the dark abyss we have fallen into. The key is: can we progress and be innovators, empowering our masses with education, transforming the work force by educating people into new roles in sustainability, and financing businesses to move into the circular and ESG positive approach? So, my answer will radically change depending on how we spend the next stimulus and how the government leads this pandemic.”

HOPES: “There is so much potential, and we can’t imagine what will occur technologically in the future. With the dizzying acceleration of computing, combined with the rapidly scaling AI, there is tremendous potential. Top ones are curing of diseases, enabling us to tackle climate change and overcome the world great challenges, provide transparency, data privacy, verification and many ways to make life easier for everyone.”

WORRIES: “Most immediately, data privacy. Harvesting of data for the financial gain of a few, as well as using that data profiling to manipulate as we saw with Cambridge Analytica. But the scenarios go farther. ‘Do You Trust This Computer’ by filmmaker Chris Paine is a great purveyor of the dystopian reality we are facing with a handful of entities creating the most powerful AI – the military and mega companies like Google and Facebook triangulating data. Within a few years – if not already – there is a great opportunity for total control by not so friendly dictators. I’m not so keen on my DNA being grown into a supply chain for organs or even slaves. Then, of course, the film ‘The Matrix, ‘while out of this world, hints at the concerns of AI outgrowing humanity and turning against us. I can go on. The reality is that we have no idea what will occur… and much is beyond our current comprehension. Perhaps that is the scariest part of it all – and the most fascinating.”

The publisher and editorial director of a science magazine said, “There will be an increase in inequality and job insecurity around increased tech advancements.”

HOPES: “Increase in productivity and environmental improvement.”

WORRIES: “Privacy. As with Facebook, we’re not customers… we’re products.”

The well-known founding director of a U.S. center for humanities observed, “Bigger wealth divide. Ending of legal immigration. Economic impact, in particular, will be severe with lasting unemployment and failed institutions (e.g., many colleges and universities will close along with museums and other cultural institutions).”

HOPES: “More access to education through enhanced distance learning.”

WORRIES: “Federal government (NSA) and police departments will justify more surveillance to target highly vulnerable populations.”

A digital innovation and rights activist, policy expert and teacher based in Africa wrote, HOPES: “I expect to have everything connected to the cloud and to the internet. More people will be working from home as a result, which will improve productivity.”

WORRIES: “Cybercrime and online bullying will spike.”

A leader of Brazil’s networked communications community commented, HOPES: “I believe technology will improve city mobility, and also e-health.”

WORRIES: “I am concerned about privacy and also about employment for less digitally-literate persons.”

A research scientist working on AI innovation with Google commented, HOPES: “More public awareness and demands for corporate responsibility.”

WORRIES: “They are monopolies, and also they are companies that clearly do not care about individual rights or privacy and they sell that tech to unscrupulous states or organizations.”

A researcher of digital culture studying the possibilities of people’s relationships to technology said, WORRIES: “That new levels of surveillance will be normalized in the name of public health and remote work efficiency, and it will be even harder to insist on more autonomy for workers when it comes to technology.”

An author and global expert on the future of AI and transhumanism wrote, HOPES: “Tech generally makes our lives better.”

The following predictions are from respondents who said most people’s lives will be mostly BETTER in 2025 than they were prior to the arrival of the pandemic

A professor of computer science based at a major U.S. technological university said, “My honest worry is that a superhuman elite will control the technology and probably destroy mankind.”

A CEO and professional futures strategist/consultant wrote, “I worry that there will be increased unemployment and loss of privacy.”

A lawyer and former law school dean who specializes in technology issues wrote, “There will be greater awareness of need for broadscale safety nets for employees – workforce employment protections (such as those implemented by EU). There will be greater societal demands for public health and safety protections supported by governments. There will be a widespread demand for more-effective leadership of government institutions. Just contrast how the leadership overseeing the COVID pandemic problems in New Zealand, much of Europe, Taiwan and South Korea with the anemic, chaotic leadership in the U.S. People will demand more and better leadership traits in their elected leaders.”

HOPES: “Better social media ‘ethics’ by movements to constrain and reduce hate speech, overt hatred online and manifest dishonesty on social and political issues. A greater societal awareness of need to rely on truth-telling online, especially the major influential sources (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) while recognizing that some things are opinions and should be respected as long as not false, defamatory, hateful, likely to inspire hated, etc. There will be a movement from the essential lawlessness of the internet to a demand for a more civil and civic discourse approach.”

WORRIES: “I worry over the tech companies’ lack of respect for the importance of civic discourse on their platforms. Much of the social media space is essentially the wild west: no laws, no rules, hate speech is permitted if it supports advertising revenues, etc. Those companies’ employees are revolting within the context of their employment, and they are demanding that the corporate leadership grow a spine and step up against the voices of discord, hatred, anarchy, etc.”

A lecturer, futures strategist and author said, “Just look out five years and read the trends. The only things that can stop hopes coming true are bad leadership and greed from the billionaire class. The major worry is if our wealthy class fails to understand its role in funding innovation research and access to innovation, i.e., free health care, free or low-cost internet and computers as examples.”

An anthropologist and writer said, “What will have changed the most is our sense of being a part of a community greater than where we live or work. The pandemic reminds us that we are affected by the decisions and actions of those far away from us physically, those whom we can now reach much easier than we could 100 years ago. I think global conversations among the average person in the Millennial and Generation Y cohorts will become the ‘new normal’ as will wider efforts at co-operation beyond government-initiated cooperation. What will have not changed much at all? The percentage of people in my country – the United States – who resist any sort of change at all, and who resist cooperation for whatever reason: sexism, racism, an ego-driven definition of what liberty and freedom are. They will still be there, firmly rooted and a constant challenge to every bit of change (good and bad) in the years between 2020 and 2025. Perhaps even on a level that involves violence. As far as technology is concerned, I think the new normal will include a better understanding of and strategies for dealing with the isolation and vulnerability of elders and those living alone via technology. I think we will also see an advancement in VR technology and encouragement to explore the world that way. In fact, previously crowded tourist and other destinations may cap the number of attendees, much live some natural space already do, daily and work to offer VR alternatives for those who can’t travel, for education and for those locked out of attendance because of the capping of crowds. I think we’ll see an even greater push for access to healthcare, perhaps an understanding that health care costs can be out of reach even for our doctors and nurses. There will be a growing focus on the healthcare needs of families dealing with age-related dementia, which will bring an even greater focus on all aspects of mental health care and the burden to which families (and women) supplement healthcare for the elderly. I believe we might find ourselves doing a fair bit more of community and social sharing and trading via technology as the requisite part of being in a community. For example, the sharing of talent to help parents entertain and educate children when needed. We’ll also see a greater intrusion of technology into our private lives as not everyone has a way to stage where they engage in video conferencing as it becomes a norm for everything from work, to family gatherings, to hobby and trade meetings and events.”

HOPES: “I hope technology increases each individual person’s reach to community and support – that it decreases isolation and that it provides access to collaboration in areas that might have been out of reach for some.”

WORRIES: “I worry that the digital divide will only get bigger, not smaller. Companies still have too much power over the most basic element of access to online technologies – even in fairly populated areas it can be impossible to get anything more than a cellular-hotspot internet connection, while others are zooming along via broadband. This can have enormous implications when it comes to equity in education, but it also limits us having a shared culture, shared sources of news and entertainment, and can limit basic needs – like telemedicine and online ordering of groceries.”

An assistant professor of information science at a U.S. university said, “Technology will be used even more to automate routine (and boring) aspects of jobs/work, leaving the more interesting and complex processes to humans. Technology will be used to enable more people to choose where they want to work, whether that be a home office, a physical company office, a co-working space, a local coffee shop or some combination of those (or something else altogether). Technology will continue to evolve and alter the ways we communicate. The lines between work-time and non-work-time will continue to blur for many people, especially in white collar and service industries.”

HOPES: “I hope that the ways we communicate with each other continue to evolve as technology evolves, making communication across different cultures, languages, and other barriers easier.”

WORRIES: “One worry I have is that technology will continue to blur the line between work-time and non-work-time (personal time), leaving people with little ‘down’ time or recreational time.”

An expert in public policy said, “We will see the beginnings of a return to social mobility, with expanded access to affordable post-secondary education. Criminal justice systems will be quietly reformed, locality by locality, largely outside the media glare. Public service will become a trendy thing for young people. People will learn to find social solidarity and meaning offline, as the failure to successfully combat misinformation online causes people to view online spaces with new skepticism. That’s the good side. On the downside, we will continue to fight an escalation in white nationalism which likely will include violence, and I don’t expect major changes in income inequality or structural reforms to the neoliberal foundations of our economy.”

HOPES: “I hope that technologies can help combat the spread of disinformation and misinformation and fill news deserts. So far tech has done more harm than good to civic discourse and accountability journalism. I hope it can play a more helpful role. I also hope that tech can make health care more affordable and accessible, as has started to happen.”

WORRIES: “I worry about big data being used for surveillance by corporations, governments, and nefarious actors; threats to safety occasioned by technology (e.g., domestic violence survivors, witnesses in criminal trials); and the erosion of privacy generally. I also worry that social media have made people across the ideological spectrum simplistic, intolerant, angry and unkind. Social media platforms, and the habits of mind and expression they reward, have eroded the basic civic virtues necessary to a healthy and inclusive democracy.”

The director of an innovation lab responded, “The pandemic has accelerated change by increasing the breadth of shared experience and moving to a critical mass of users from online learning and working remotely, to cashless transactions and a broader scope online commerce. Where this leads us is up for grabs – up to us in some sense – with no guaranteed progress or decline, most likely some of each. As we live more digitally, I hope we adjust in ways that foreground equity and incorporate the movement against systemic racism and exclusion. This could lead to expanded technology access (treating broadband as a utility, making it not just affordably available to all households, but a default like water and electricity, for example). We might also become more aware of – and engaged with – the surveillance economy, taking a variety of steps to address the way our privacy is protected, our data is used responsibly and so on. More broadly, this invokes a series of changes at key institutions from tech companies to journalism and higher education, ranging from diversity and inclusion, to reconsidering how they meaningfully contribute socially. The best outcome would be not a gradual shift in these directions, but a collective realization that we need to respond to our increased reliance on technology for work, study, play, health and everything else, with a robust, public-health and environmentally-oriented set of policy interventions. Done well, this could lead to improved access to services, better defaults and more control over your personal data, services and technologies that are designed for equity and inclusion, and a more complementary relationship between on and offline lives. Then again, we could really screw it up, do nothing substantial, exacerbate existing gaps and promote more social and political polarization. It’s our call!”

An expert in the field of communication measurement said, “Technology will be a widely accepted way to deliver mental health and medical assistance. By 2025 we will have to get good internet to rural areas and therefore more people will have access to mental and physical well-being. People will travel less to conferences and events and be able to spend more time with their families, and yet still have access to knowledge and new ideas. With luck some of the empty malls and office buildings and conference centers can be turned into affordable housing and we might actually solve the homeless problem. In many ways America is like a drunk that has hit rock bottom in the middle of this virus and will, I trust, finally start accepting help in the form of new ideas that will reduce income inequality.”

HOPES: “Virtual conferencing will get better and more reliable. Good robust wifi will come to all rural areas. With luck Facebook with any luck Mark Zuckerberg will be gone and Facebook will die.”

WORRIES: “I fear the role of media moguls like Mark Zuckerberg and Rupert Murdoch and their power over our media consumption habits.”

An information science professor expert in the changing forms of work and organizing that are enabled through uses of digital technologies said, “For many people, the pandemic will lead to increased inequities. Many societies will address these with systematic improvements to healthcare, public health, worker protections, etc. The U.S. responses will move this way, with a speed based on who is control of the White House and Congress. The new normal will include institutional attention to reducing infectious disease spread (temperature-sensing, wastewater-sensing, spacing protocols, public space management, etc.). Knowledge workers will have a range of at-home, third-party places and offices to work from, with digital infrastructures to support their multi-location mobility. There will be a steady rise of digital-engagement platforms that seek to heed the aphorism – more than being there – with AI-based systems that listen to digital conversations and provide updated evidence and additional materials (collaborative Siri or an attentive digital research supporter). These will rely on human engagement, leveraging human assistants to make meetings more useful and allowing digital mediation to be preferred for many production-related activities. The blur of work and non-work times, moving ever more away from the idea of working hours, will lead to a new set of working norms about when one must participate in work. This will be aided by shared workspaces (smart DropBox) that allow coworkers access to material as needed. There will be a rise in local micro-vacation spaces – outdoors areas, etc. – to allow people to maximize a few days away, and to support families and small groups getting together in safe spaces. The current move towards neoliberal markets and protectionism is the counterpoint to all this. It is not clear if worker protection, or corporate support, will win out in the next few years.”

HOPES: “Improved digital infrastructure – better WiFi, more shared storage, better apps to manage files and apps in the cloud. Steady improvements in digital medical records (at least in the U.S.) at long last, likely because of Federal pressure to improve U.S. healthcare. Tighter integration of the mobile phone and automobiles.”

WORRIES: “Gruesome social media failures across multiple platforms, more problems with shaming, suicide, stalking, hate speech and misinformation will lead to national and global efforts to do more to regulate speech. This will be a very difficult and unproductive effort.”

An internet pioneer formerly active in ICANN observed, “Technology has to get better, and fast, otherwise, we’re doomed. The optimistic me thinks that we’ve advanced the timetable on breaking things. Facebook being the best example – a horribly intrusive/manipulative system is being recognized more broadly these days, mostly because of the stress of the COVID-19 era. The new normal is going to have a lot less in-person interaction, in crowded indoor spaces – which will drive the need for a replacement. I’ve always dreamed of an online bar experience that matches the real-life version. I hope that day comes sooner. I’m glad I was fortunate enough to ‘see the world’ throughout my life. I think those days are over – in the new normal, people may never have that opportunity again. Hopefully the tech can provide something nearly as inspiring/broadening. Not to mention climate-change and habitat-destruction. We either will… or we won’t – to the detriment of us all and the planet. I hope work and economic security improve for all – again, the alternative is just too bleak to contemplate.”

HOPES: “Accountability for promoting disinformation and lying will, I hope desperately, improve. Otherwise, it won’t, and we’re doomed. Access to adequate broadband will improve, or it won’t and what a miserable future that will be. I’m keen to see the return of facts and a reduction of political polarization so that we can address big problems without having to constantly fight rearguard actions against people who rail against such fantasy-issues as vaccines and incandescent light bulbs.”

WORRIES: “Oh god… just look around. I’m too tired to go there…”

An Australian professor expert in algorithms commented, “It will not be better or worse but it will be different. Climate change and the need for access to technology means it will be worse in some ways and particularly worse for some cohorts who are disadvantaged. However, for others the technology will bring advantages in the way they work and communicate. It will also lead to innovations and creativity.”

HOPES: “There will be an amplification of advantages or disadvantages for certain cohorts. And for some – for example people with disabilities – there may be increased disadvantages due to the increased need for tech that may not be accessible. But, on the other hand, the increasing use by a wider demographic and different innovations may lead to unanticipated advantages. These may be simultaneous as in more disadvantages alongside more advantages for some people.”

WORRIES: “Access, increasing reliance on analytics and AI in an uncritical manner”

An economist who works in government responded, “The ‘new normal’ will clearly differ from the pre -pandemic period. Whether better or worse depends on whom we are addressing. After a horribly polarized period for most Americans, there will be a long transition of reform to undo the many dubious changes and culture wrought by the current (pandemic era) administration. Better equality, a strengthened rule of law, catch-up on such needed projects as healthcare reform and infrastructure renovation and general pro-democracy reforms. The countries that used to look to the U.S. for guidance pre pandemic (e.g., Europe, UK, Japan, India) will adopt some or many of the U.S.-type reforms. In contrast, those countries with very limited democratic structures may well tighten their grip, noting that the protests and need for centralized leadership to achieve success (e.g., masks and socializing constraints) require at least no letup and probably the need for increased control. So, the ‘new normal’ should be improved for current democracies during and after a transition period that might still be underway in 2025, and likely worse in dictatorships and other countries featuring few tenets of a democracy.”

HOPES: “I have expectations for continued technological changes that will affect societies, some favorably and others conferring difficult dislocations for many, at least initially. Good things in terms of efficiency will likely include robotics and artificial intelligence. These two tech game-changers will dramatically impact many traditional technologies and occupations, evoking opposition in some quarters in the short run.”

WORRIES: “The jobs of many individuals will be disrupted. For example, robotics is already, in some places, replacing people-centered jobs with robots ranging from assembly lines to paralegals to pizza makers. AI brings sophisticated machine intelligence to traditional human activities of problem solving, such as Siri and Alexa and driverless cars. To avert tumultuous dislocations, timely and meaningful re-training to allow people to fit into the new environment, coupled with unemployment compensation as needed in the short term.”

A principal investigator on a project researching the future of human rights wrote, “There will be wider access to computer hardware and platforms to enable more of society to take part in the digital life needed to keep society functioning during the pandemic. There may also be increased use of technology by citizens who participate in democratic decision-making.”

HOPES: “My hope is that these changes will enable wider access to quality healthcare and education and that technology is proactively used to address growing challenges related to social isolation, particularly among the elderly.”

WORRIES: “My primary worry relates to excessive surveillance and unjust responses to the findings of surveillance. My second main worry is the seeming inability to counter disinformation and hate speech. These work against social cohesion, rational deliberation and evidence-based policy making.”

A vice president for regulatory affairs at a major global telecommunications company shared this potential scenario, “In 2025 the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the status-quo way of doing things and forced people to find new ways to function under quarantine and social distancing. Key among those changes are widescale adoption of work-at-home across a broad range of job functions and industries. Workers are able to eliminate daily commuting, gaining back time in their days and reducing costs associated with drive/public transportation to get to work. Living close to the office is no longer necessary, so workers moved out of cities to more remote suburbs where they could have more space for the same or lower price as their old rent. Companies need far less office space to support operations and place more focus on using company-owned space for functions that require in-person interactions or experiences. Needless to say, this has had significant impacts on property values and taxes; cities saw declines in both, and suburbs saw growth. Broadband access has become a necessity for all, and actions have been taken to close the remaining broadband gaps (rural deployment and low-income adoption). Education delivery (K-12 and secondary) have been dramatically transformed, as school systems and colleges learned how to effectively use technologies to educate students at home.”

HOPES: “My hope is that universal broadband adoption is likely to become a real priority that will drive policy changes to close long-standing gaps. This will allow broadband to be assumed by government services, companies, schools and civic organizations to interact with the public.”

WORRIES: “I worry that the central role played by key technology platforms will make the largest tech companies even more successful and powerful. Because of their importance, they will be under increasing scrutiny by state and federal regulators and anti-trust enforcement agencies. Federal privacy legislation will establish a nationwide standard for protecting consumers and allow companies to operate under a common set of rules when serving consumers around the country.”

A vice president with a major U.S. technology company wrote, “The widespread and sudden adoption of remote work will mostly stick. That will give knowledge workers more autonomy and better work-life balance, and all companies will operate more efficiently. With less physical interaction in an office and more time available that was previously spent commuting, a second-order effect will emerge: increasing people’s connections with their local community. When the current political response in America to the pandemic causes a significant backlash come November, more progressive changes will happen more rapidly, especially in racial and gender equality, as well as across the U.S. health care system.”

HOPES: “I hope that more acceptance of video conferencing in all walks of life will reduce travel dramatically and result in benefits to the global climate. I hope for a shift in power generationally to those who are ‘digital natives’ and a redistribution of wealth in ways that are less reliant on existing (and privileged) networks.”

WORRIES: “I worry that this could all be terribly isolating, all of us sitting all day in front of endless, flickering Zoom meetings. I fear that social media may splinter into truly tribal echo chambers that intensify our divisions.”

A professor emeritus of social science said, “The most important impacts will be political and economic. If progressive social policies are implemented, people’s lives will improve despite the economic hardships if the post-COVID-19 period. The is really not about the internet.”

HOPES: “I hope that distance work and education technologies will implement accessibility features at the core of new platforms so that everyone will be able to navigate the new normal and that good jobs and educational experiences are supported for people of all socioeconomic statuses. I fear that the remote call center, with its underpaid staff following mindless scripts that leave clients frustrated and poorly served, will be the model adopted by corporations looking for ever cheaper labor. I have high hopes for open courseware but fear the cumbersome Blackboard style of what passes for education.”

WORRIES: “I worry about more corporate and government surveillance. I fear the commodification of social interaction. As I once told a meeting of technology enthusiasts in the 1990s, ‘Barbed wire fences and banks are coming to the electronic frontier.’ I fear the enormous interest that governments and corporations have in surveillance and social control and preventing a secure, encrypted means of communication. I worry about computer-aided fascism.”

A professor of communication and political science based in the U.S. Midwest said, “People will overcome initial trepidation and learn to use technology to their benefit. With the right leadership, we will be guided to use technology not to replace our routines, but rather to improve them. Technology is intended to help us reinvent them. Work routines will change. I am hopeful that this will mean flexible schedules for workers, shorter work weeks and greater proficiency in using technology in ways that support and not overwhelm us.”

HOPES: “I am not interested in a new normal. I am not interested even in returning to normal. I do not want to return to normal. I look forward to moving on to better. I hope that we will be calm and wise enough to make the right decisions in electing leaders and working with each other in ways that make our lives better and use technology smartly. These are terrible circumstances we find ourselves in; they also present us with unique opportunities for change.”

WORRIES: “I am worried that we will continue to use technology in ways that monetize personal data and exploit the individual. I worry that we will keep designing technologies that repeat and reinforce our routines, instead of reinventing them. Humanity is in dire need of new routines. The old ones don’t work. We have outgrown them. We must use technology to help reinvent the human condition.”

A CEO and founder of an agency helping people use digital tools responded, “From the standpoint of community, COVID-19 has put a spotlight on those who are not typically included. We live with a misconception that ‘in real life’ or ‘face-to-face’ is the best option and the most representative one. This is often a racist and ableist viewpoint in my opinion. The reality is that there are huge swaths of our society who are unable or uncomfortable with IRL situations and thereby typically excluded – yet we don’t notice. For example, people living with a disability, whether physical or who are neurodiverse; parents (especially women) of small children; and BIPOC. Moving gatherings and work online has enabled people not typically included to both be more included and/or remove themselves from the challenges and micro aggressions that are forced from IRL cultures. Some examples: 1) Alcoholics Anonymous, a self-organizing, global entity, is functioning almost entirely online and meetings appear to be more diverse, with more access for parents of young children and the elderly. People are getting sober through AA, online. 2) You will need to substantiate this as I have heard it secondhand, but as a Seattle local I have heard that Amazon surveyed its employees regarding preferences for working from home and that Black women had the highest preference. Ask them about this. It’s important. 3) The disability community has been asking for accommodations at work, such as flexible schedules and working remotely, for years. They are now receiving them in part because everyone is receiving them. My hope is that when we do return to more ‘in-person’ activities, we will be more inclusive and that more online options will available – from working remotely to more permanent online community events. Many of the misconceptions about online interactions being inferior to in-person have been tested and I think we will see that many of those misconceptions will not hold up. While I am not typically concerned about privacy I do worry about safeguards when it comes to technology like facial recognition, specifically when it is being used against disenfranchised communities or those questioning the status quo, such as protestors.”

A computer engineer replied, “It will be better in some ways and worse in other ways. Folks now realize the importance of family, of rest of connection with other people in a way that was not possible before the pandemic. I would hope that they will not allow industry to take that away from them, especially since many will have accumulated debts. Hopefully the cost of education will go be reduced thanks to online classes, making it more affordable for a larger part of the population. In the move to digital, I have been on more Zoom calls with family and friends than I ever imagined. This has led to connections with people who live farther away and to a new comfort level with the technology. This opens the door to remote collaboration and access to people and resources that were previously not considered possible or normal. The presence of technology in daily life is making the country and the world a smaller place. This could have the negative effect of isolating people from their immediate surroundings, neighbors, co-workers, etc., more than before the pandemic. It depends on each person’s choice. Having more neighbors work from home has given me more opportunities to see and greet my neighbors, some of whom I never knew existed. I work remotely and have for over a year. Hopefully more people will regularly work from home, this is good for the environment, less traffic and a reduction in the need to do fracking to get every last ounce of gas/oil. Hopefully people will become more comfortable on video calls, though. It is frustrating to have a call with your team and only one person has the camera on. The technology will be good for the aging population who has now learned to operate and connect via video. Privacy is something Americans often overlook in the tradeoff with convenience. My health insurer offers telemedicine any time without a co-pay. I have not been to a doctor in over a year. This will become more and more prevalent.”

An anonymous respondent based in Australia wrote, “After decades of promise, the pandemic has forced government and businesses to make remote working /working from home a reality. This should persist now that it has been proved in practice and become part of the ‘new-normal’ way of doing things. Parents and caregivers have made new arrangements to care for children and elderly relatives that may also persist alongside work from home. In public spaces, social distancing and personal hygiene practices should carry on to some extent with benefits in preventing other socially transmitted diseases – e.g., seasonal flu. There will be lower job security and more reliance on technology. This will change how privacy is viewed. It will also potentially reduce economic security of families – although probably mainly through higher costs of living rather than reduced earnings.”

HOPES: “In Australia the botched rollout of the national broadband network (NBN) will have to be rectified. The VDSL-based fibre-to-the-node implementation for most users only just managed to survive the huge working-hours increase in usage. Although 5G mobile may be suitable alternative for some users, fibre to the premises will need to replace fibre to the node. this will be a costly exercise. Fortunately, this particular screwup is peculiar to Australia and is not reflected much elsewhere in the developed world – or even the newly industrialised and developing world. Facial recognition and contactless payment systems matched with improved artificial intelligence should further transform in-store shopping. The COVID-19-induced surge in online shopping will probably drop back to pre-pandemic levels unless the shopping experience is substantially improved – perhaps through increased use of virtual reality tech.”

WORRIES: “Concepts of personal privacy based on the norms of the pre-tech, not just the pre-pandemic, world will need to adjust to the reality of much-more-intrusive types of technology or forgo many of the potential benefits. Also, the stealthy permeation of the Internet of Things (IoT) to every dimension of modern life will be key influence on all this. If current practice by Facebook, Google and the like is any guide, ensuring that this type of personal choice is respected will be difficult I suspect. Getting this balance right will be even more difficult than  usual with new disruptive technologies due to the new conspiracy-theory-driven world and the likelihood that there will be many more disgruntled losers from these tech-related changes ripe for manipulation by the type of narcissistic demagogues currently being elevated to positions of power and/or influence. I could go on …”

A computer science professor at a top global technological university wrote, “I expect more global participation. Information-sharing increases equity. There will be more investment in public health and more distrust in conservative policies. I worry about problems due to the limited social interaction off-screen. I worry that the tech companies are more powerful than governments. Tech companies are surveillance companies”

A computer scientist working in the fields of artificial and collective intelligence wrote, “A lot is being learned, a lot of mistakes are being made; one could say that Chuck Darwin is busy now. Will we grow from this experience? I believe so. Among the improvements already in play is a deeper drive towards citizen and open science. It seems logical, to me, that in times when central government proves its inability to ‘do the right thing’ (whatever that means), everyone outside government, from NGOs to high school kids, rally around, even swarm to pick up the slack. Pressure mounts on the open source and professional software communities to provide for people’s needs due to these increased activities. The late great technology innovator Douglas Engelbart would be proud. He called for ‘capabilities infrastructures’ in which human and tool systems co-evolve to increase capabilities in the face of increasingly complex and urgent problems. He was right, and it’s happening.”

HOPES: “Secure voting by mail. Full stop. The end of surveillance capitalism. More full stop. Truly democratized access to all publicly-funded scientific research and knowledge.”

WORRIES: “There may be an overriding issue: The more you decouple human experience from reality in the service of comfort and convenience, the more you decouple them from the ecosystem that provides for life itself. More and more, we have become accustomed to instant everything, instant oatmeal at the cost of the dimensions of our midriffs and diabetes, instant delivery of artifacts – many of which we just don’t need – at the cost of a) the environment, b) jobs and local commerce, c) sense of community. You might recall the dystopian story cartooned in Pixar’s ‘WALL-E.’ To drag you around the barn for a while, consider the emerging theories related to the autoimmune diseases such as MS. The story goes that humans co-existed with parasites for ages and we survived by evolving immune systems checks and balances that allowed the parasites to remain by damping down overly powerful immune responses to them. So, what happens when modern technology removes those parasites? What does the immune system do? Just think about it. The Tsimané tribes in Bolivia have been studied for their longevity, their lack of dementia in the face of growing dementia in the developed world; they are riddled with the very protein structures thought to cause dementia, and they are riddled with parasites. What worries me is that the priesthood of the government-university-industrial complex is slowing down the kinds of progress now being shown in the COVID-19 people-driven research. I am going to go out on a limb and rail: it should not be all that hard for historians to return to the present and draw concrete causal lines between the actions of the lone wolf Mark Zuckerberg and the COVID-19 events in which we are now immersed.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “Digital technologies have proven that it is possible and maybe preferable to enable remote working for many professionals. Digital health technologies have demonstrated that tele-medicine is not just an idea but can be a reality, bringing medical resources into communities and to individuals who might not otherwise be able to access them. Against this must be stacked the reality that: 1) Many people in the most-needy communities have limited access to these digital tools. 2) Fears about digital footprints and digital tracking are real and may, if not adequately addressed, discourage the expansion of digital technologies.”

HOPES: “Technologies offer a wide range of potential improvements – from telemedicine to improved public transport to remote working and many other improvements. Again, the issues will be access, privacy and equity.”

WORRIES: “Privacy will be a foremost concern. However, foreign influence in our technology and social media environments and the proliferation of unfounded theories and political and social attacks will become even dangerous in the coming years.”

A researcher in bioinformatics and computational biology said, “The pandemic may be the tipping point for a transition to universal healthcare in the United States. COVID-19 will have health implications lasting into the second half of the 21st century with regards to lasting heart and lung damage. The racial unrest demonstrated during the pandemic may also translate into a redistribution of public funds with social and mental health programs being better equipped financially to lessen police workloads in these areas where they are ill-positioned to produce good outcomes. I think 2025 will see more people doing work remotely. I also think that there will be a greater push towards the realization that broadband internet should be treated as a utility or a right in order to address inequities in remote instruction for students of all ages and teleworkers during the pandemic. These changes to healthcare and access to overcoming practical barriers to telework in rural areas or for lower income peoples can drive a renewed existence of small business, but this will be pushing against the collapse of many small businesses due to the pandemic in the course of the next two to three years. This might enable the ‘gig economy’ to persist, allowing such jobs to be done while giving the workers a social safety net that they don’t currently have. Some ideas about day-to-day chores and activities that might change: Grocery delivery or quick pickup will become more standardized. Restaurant orders increasingly rely on delivery or takeout options, which could drive the development of automated delivery services driven by AI. Traditional educational institutions will better incorporate lessons from MOOCs and online learning to 1) address challenges to remote instruction during the pandemic and 2) better incorporate heterogeneous learning methods”

HOPES: “Better preparation for the onset of quantum computing and the potential impact on traditional means of encryption. Better privacy laws surrounding individuals’ data being shared by social media and search platforms. Improved automated translation technologies that will allow for the more rapid spread of shared culture and entertainment. Such tools could also be used to better safeguard indigenous languages that are in danger of dying out in course of the next century. Improvements in battery life and logistics could transform the transportation grid away from fossil fuels. While not a tech-related change in itself, the better understanding of the impact of social media on our mental health could drive healthier usage patterns. Improvements in VR technology and cost could act to soften the blow of a world made more difficult and dangerous to travel in the midst of a pandemic. Improvements in medical coverage and technology will allow for the creation of better and more equitable forms of precision medicine/health to address the fallout from the pandemic as well as the looming antibiotic resistance crisis and the obesity epidemic. One could imagine having grocery orders or meal-prep programs tied to algorithms backed by evidence to help folks lose and maintain weight in a healthful way that works for them individually. Improved access to broadband internet and the quality (and acceptance of credentials) from online learning has the potential to transform rural areas with dwindling populations and economic opportunities.”

WORRIES: “Whether or not net-neutrality is restored, the internet and the condition of encryption for user data are critical for a free society moving forward as technology takes an ever-increasing role in our lives. Prices for new electronics may bear the increased cost of a new cold war between countries allied (economically or militarily) with China versus the United States. This may also cause difficulties in platform/file format mutual intelligibility. Individuals may have markedly less privacy with the increase of the surveillance state, as it becomes easier to perform data fusion across different mechanisms of data collection in order to conduct analyses. The reluctance of the judiciary to use data and statistical methods to address inequities in the law could stymie such evidence-based challenges to legal theory or anecdote-based legal precedence.”

A JavaScript engineer and user-interface/front end developer said, “Not thinking primarily or in-depth about digital technology, I think things might be better in 2025. We will be used to wearing masks and will wear them in public during flu season, and our health will improve overall as a result. I think during the pandemic we have laid the groundwork for some sort of universal basic income, whether that comes in the form of direct money, tax policy or both, and that it will no longer be defensible to shut gig workers out of employment. One of the most revolutionary things that has come out of the pandemic is here to stay: education, entertainment and interaction on your screen on demand. The normalization of being able to get what you need and want without having to travel a great distance or pay an exorbitant amount of money will be an incredible boon to society. However, this will come at a cost. We will be tracked. We already are and have been for a long time, but there will no longer be a fight against it. Our digital profile will be like our social security number – something required by the government for the public good, but also used often to exploit people. And while it’s amazing to be able to get what you need without leaving the house or necessarily working for it, that doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest choice to make consistently, and I’m concerned about what widespread implementation of virtual contact would mean particularly for education. There is no replacing the social bonds that form on campus, and it would be psychologically disastrous for colleges to close and be replaced by Zoom meetings. Also, many people record onscreen meetings by default. On the one hand, it’s great to have a record of that time the teacher sexted in your class. On the other, it tamps down your bravery and spontaneous free inquiry to know that you are being recorded while you speak. There is a theory that some young white males have been living this life for a while. Unemployed, subsisting off of an income they didn’t personally earn (for instance, living with parents) and living their entire life through screens (video games, Reddit, etc.). The theory maintains that this class of people is resentful and unfulfilled. If all of society lives this way, we’ll be more prone as a whole to the problems associated with this demographic. In order for America not to collapse, we’ll need the ‘new normal’ to be one option, not the only option.”

An anonymous respondent said, “Work from home will become the norm. Commuting will be only two or three times a month in order to achieve social interaction and attend important meetings. Hopefully this will lead to more equity in the workspace – more people with more access to technologies that allow them to do more of their work remotely. Hopefully the physical and mental health aspects of working remotely will be addressed as well – ergonomics, the importance of mixing in-person and tech-only interactions, etc. Many people who were not fully digitized or on apps became much more so during the pandemic; hopefully this will lead to more inclusion in digital life for seniors and communities that had low access to technology and low connectivity. If schools continue to remain all or partially remote, as a society we will have to fix inequities in digital access for disadvantaged communities – i.e., ensure they have laptops or tablets and WiFi – and hopefully these digital benefits will flow to the adults in the household as well who could do more work and life activities (banking, etc.) online. Privacy is a huge concern. Without a GDPR-like policy push in the U.S., all these digital expansions will be uncoordinated and left to Big Tech to figure out and do with it as they will. I predict privacy will take the biggest hit in the near term and be the most difficult to address.”

HOPES: “More people able to work from home. More people attaining digital literacy to be able to work safer, less physically stressful/dangerous jobs. More access to telehealth for more people. More access to better quality education for people at all levels, not as a substitute to in-person learning but as an enhancement.”

WORRIES: “1) Privacy, privacy, privacy. 2) Our inability as a society to close the ever-growing digital gap between knowledge workers and laborers, digitally literate and not, wired versus none. 3) Big Tech needs to be reined in and required to follow laws and rules around hate speech, discrimination and it should work aggressively to shut down hate and paramilitary organizations using their platforms to recruit and organize.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “It’s very difficult to predict what the world will look like in 2025, in no small part because we know so little about the virus, and therefore can’t meaningfully model what additional system shocks we are likely to endure from it. If it becomes endemic and recurs in a widespread way such that most of the population eventually becomes infected; if it reinfects easily and is more severe on reinfection; and if it catalyzes chronic health problems in those infected are all huge unanswered questions. Equally uncertain is whether the response we currently have to the pandemic remains stable. Already in the United States, we have two narratives of community pandemic response. In the first, people came together in unprecedented solidarity to give authorities time to implement the testing, tracing, isolation, and other protocols necessary to live with the virus in a controlled way. This was successful in slowing the spread of infection and may have resulted in containment if it had been maintained and supplemented with effective, coordinated governmental response. It was not, however, and as we see a resumption of exponential growth in cases, we are seeing less solidarity and more confusion, frustration and nihilism, responses that are likely to be much less effective. It is tempting to suggest that as new outbreaks occur elsewhere in the world, as they must, and as the conditions of pandemic wear on, that others will not let frustration overcome discipline and begin to create false and destructive narratives around the disease centered, for example, on xenophobia rather than collective action. All that said, this crisis, for all its devastation, has forced human societies into natural experiments that would have been unthinkable before the pandemic, for good and bad reasons. These experiments, regardless of their motivation, have given us insights into our society that we haven’t had, and forced us to confront implications that we were avoiding. We see fault lines in our society better than we ever have, and more people than ever understand them as what they are – existential problems that can’t be ignored. We also see, in its omission, how important the role of good central governance is to maintaining and improving our society, and how important it is to hold those who are invested with power in our society accountable to those whom society rightly serves. On a smaller scale, the pandemic has shown us the tremendous value telecommunications has in our lives, both in staying in touch with each other and in enabling commerce. It has demonstrated that we need physical co-location much less than we thought, diminishing the importance of both geography and physical ability to enterprise hiring and making it easier than ever to bring more diverse voices into the enterprise, just as we are starting to truly appreciate the need for such diversity. Discussions surrounding diversity and equity have caused us to reevaluate the pervasive use of machine learning and big-data acquisition and analysis, with an eye, again, toward diversity and community. Combined with a new appreciation for the role of government in ensuring a just and safe society, I expect the field to become more heavily scrutinized, both by those outside the big data community and by its own practitioners. This trend is already happening, along with a rising consciousness among those practitioners that they have an ethical responsibility independent of that of their employers, and a moral responsibility to oppose them if they believe they are acting against the public interest. The net effect is a society coming to truly appreciate how it is broken, how broken it is, and taking responsibility for fixing it. If these trends continue, and absent more unforeseen system shocks, I fail to see how the world can be worse in five years than it is now.”

An anonymous respondent based in North America commented, “Youth has led with ubiquitous cell phone use. Service will be available to all. Use will be mandatory in some (public/government?) occupations. Where there is cost-saving, business will shift to remote employees. Education not as much. In-person gatherings will have status, the haves will have more, with hygiene and distancing. What I think of as privacy will have been eroded. Rebels will turn off the location-finder in their phones, companies (and government?) will use always-on software, hackers will disable. Data will be gathered and massaged, and messages will target and bombard. There will be more resources for people who have less – medical, housing. I wonder what will happen to people’s mental state, if they have to continue distancing and not touching – the impact of mental isolation. Will there be less of a sense of group well-being, lack of awareness of others in a day-to-day sense, maybe compensated by more remote caring/donations? A shriveling? Changes in life-expectancy? More use of legal and illegal drugs for comfort?”

HOPES: “Home 24/7 medical monitoring, disruption monitoring (fire, outages). Quieter refrigerators, mowers, blowers. These are so much hopes as expectations. Replace automobiles with some form of personal transport. Even more delivery, with ordering online replacing leaving one’s home. Tech might be innovated to somehow include touch, smell, even a hug. There will be home robohelpers.”

WORRIES: “Worries: More crashing, hacking, disrupting. More government crackdowns. More intrusions, spam, robocalls, warnings and cautions over irregularities that come so often that they are ignored. There will be less ability for individuals to tailor products to themselves. An insistence on constant upgrading. Rush to market of products and bugs to follow. Frustration and anger spilling out into interpersonal relations.”

A foresight educator, scholar, author, consultant and speaker said, “Telepresence technologies will finally start to work. They are terrible today, because telecommunications companies have slowed them down to prevent disruption to their streaming walled gardens. 5G will be available in many cities. We’ll start to see more useful personal AIs (PAIs). The dominant push-driven ad dystopia won’t be significantly threatened in 2025, but it will by 2035.”

HOPES: “Personal AIs.”

WORRIES: “Antidemocratic, unelected, setting policy with a plutocratic captured government and regulators. Their influence will only get stronger until we all have significantly more powerful PAIs and can vote in leaders (and craft initiative legislation) that truly reflects our values and interests.”

The director of a global connectivity group said, “The pandemic will force a change in the way we think about international governance and cooperation. At the same time, there will be more attention paid to some of the negative effects of globalization and how we best address these for the future. We have to consider near-sourcing as well as building up resilience in particular key areas. All of this will help address not only key economic issues, but also social ones as well.”

HOPES: “We will fully engage in a discussion about data for the common good – how this can coexist with data protection.”

WORRIES: “Authoritarian states will find new tools and become more authoritarian. This will further the gap between democracies and those that are not.”

A professor and chair of a major university’s computer science and engineering department said, “I hope for and expect better and expanded utilization of digital technologies. There will be a redesign of archaic systems of business and government to create better streamlining. There will also be more progress in breaking the digital-divide barriers.”

HOPES: “Better user-centered approach.”

WORRIES: “Cybersecurity issues and invasion of privacy.”

The director of a military center for strategy and technology responded, “The new normal will mostly look like the old normal when we get a vaccine. However, a few items may be different. Increased availability of internet/wireless data access will likely be one result. Improved public health capabilities will likely be a second. Rapid vaccine development and prototyping against new novel viruses will be a third consequence. Lastly, while digital connections like Teams or Zoom have been with us a while, they will be more available in the future. While this will not replace human interaction, and business travel will resume, they will augment business travel and improve the connections in some working relationships. My hope is more widespread connectivity and better tools for online collaboration. My worries: Some people may seek to only connect digitally and not in-person, which will make their relationships more superficial. And privacy concerns must be balanced with security issues – an area with which democracies often struggle.”

The founder and CEO of a data research firm focused on economic evolution said, “In 2025 we will see the personalization of learning and work. Individuals can tailor where, when and how they work, and students will show how they study. There will be less local and global travel and much less congestion and pollution from traffic. Everywhere I travel globally I marvel at the immense stupidity and waste of traffic and congestion and 9-5 schedules. I hope we can work and learn as we wish. My worries are that we become more and more walled behind our technology and grow unable to empathize, read social cues and evolve as human beings; personal growth typically comes from friction catalyzed by close relationships. It is possible that we can become more communal and focused on cultivating our properties and relationships if we can personalize our activities, are more rested and waste less time in traffic and on office gossip. Cybersecurity is a huge issue for individuals, firms, economies and nation-states. Our efforts to provide it are very much at their infancy. Big tech will in the main be a force for great good.”

The founder of a London-based network commented, “What will change most: Work from home, home schooling and the end of mass schooling, resulting in a greater diversity of educational options. There may be lower overall costs of living for people due to no commuting to work or to school, no tuition fees. There will be mass migration out of cities, people will rediscover small communities, there will be a revival of mom-and-pop businesses. There will be online ordering of everything from groceries to drugs. Telemedicine will become widespread. Social media will decline.

Worries: Cyberstalking. The use of tech by governments to make people frightened. And cyber censorship – the use of technology to enforce politically correct speech and ban people from online spaces.”

A researcher focused on the evolution of digital and political communication noted, “The ‘new normal’ will highly depend on political leadership and each country’s commitment to liberal democracy. Assuming that political leadership is based on evidence-based decision-making, the ‘new normal’ for the average person will consist, most likely, out of a more robust healthcare system as well as a social security net. Healthcare would not be bound to employment and unemployment would be bolstered by a robust social security system that is built around the understanding that losing a job can affect everyone and is not centered around someone’s skills. As additional wish, I would hope for society’s understanding that the jobs that are now seen as ‘essential’ will also get treated and rewarded as such going forward. Work: With regard to daily routines, I would argue that many industries now understand that working out of an office is not necessary for many jobs and thus more flexible options will be made available. This, however, will come with issues: 1) Under-privileged people will still be not part of these possibilities. 2) Flexible workplace/workhours will come with severe mental stress that will have to be dealt with. 3) This might have an impact on bolstering rural areas, where people will now be able to work without having to commute. Well-being: Part of the new normal will be dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19. This is, in part, about health. We still do not know about the mid- to long-term damages COVID-19 will have for infected people. It is likely that this will most likely affect vulnerable populations and that this divide between healthy and sick will also be detectable by race and class (so similar to what we are seeing already everywhere in the world). How each country decides to deal with this societal trauma will decide each society’s well-being. If a society acknowledges the trauma and the long-term effects, it will have to offer treatment options and center healthcare around people, not money. If society and political leadership is willing to do so, well-being on average will be better. For the U.S., although I have hope, I am skeptical as this change would require a serious shift in the political landscape on a state level. Rather, I will say that the well-being, similar to now, will be told by red/blue state and wealth/race parameters. And indeed, I believe that for the middle- and upper-class the well-being will be improved. They will profit off of health care, changes in employment (See above) and tax breaks. For vulnerable populations, I have little hope that well-being will improve. Based on where they live in the U.S., they will still have to work several jobs, have little to no health care, and be exposed to a hyper-capitalist logic that sees them as replaceable and not as human beings. Privacy: This will get worse, unfortunately. Working from home, tele-visits, smartphones, Smart TVs, Home Surveillance, Data Brokers, etc. will all contribute to a loss of privacy. As we see in the EU the GDPR is hardly helping in protecting citizen’s privacy. In the U.S., there are few attempts to even do so. Rather the government (see Obama before) has shown a disdain for privacy. This won’t get better. A social capital system like in China is not too impossible for the U.S. I believe economic security will be on the axis between rich/poor. Middle and upper class will profit. The poor will remain poor. It’s bleak.”

HOPES: “I hope tech will become more accessible and inclusive for marginalized communities (e.g., disabled people) and that tech companies finally understand their responsibility. I doubt the latter though. Rather, I believe there will be attempts to create alternatives that will attract some communities but never take off due to big tech’s quasi-monopoly.”

WORRIES: “Constant surveillance, loss of privacy, monopolization, and alliances between big tech and the government.”

A public policy entrepreneur and expert in information technology and government said, “My hope is that the current protests will lead to structural changes that allow for a more equitable society. I hope the restructuring of the economy post-COVID allows for less commuting and less reliance on carbon-emitting fuels and thus allows for environmental improvements. I am hopeful that there will be improvements in quality of life, local community living and urban planning. I’m much more skeptical but hopeful there will be a more-sophisticated conversation about privacy as a result of contact tracing apps that leads to a more robust privacy regime in the United States. I hope a new consensus emerges around if and how to regulate speech and manage moderation on the platforms.”

A data science expert said, “I hope for educational improvements and greater educational accessibility. My worries are that tech companies are easily facilitating undesirable societal behaviors, racism, ageism, antisemitism, etc.”

A professor of data journalism commented, “I have no hopes. Tech has been a total disappointment. None of the promised utopia has come to pass. My worry is that tech is run by a small, homogeneous group of people. They are not insightful about social issues and are too self-interested.”

A researcher expert in journalism, culture and community said, “One hope is that electronic payment methods will make cash near obsolete. My worry is that decreases in regulation will erode trust in information and privacy. Use of secure COVID track-and-trace apps that respect citizen privacy may be advantageous, but this is at odds with how several nation-states are approaching it. There is a significant danger that citizen tracing for clandestine purposes materialises.”

An active leader internet policy activities who is based in Africa said, “I hope there will continue to be meaningful access and connectivity and I am hoping that machines/robots will take over most unskilled and some skilled jobs and the future workforce will be retrained in innovative skills that will bring about greater wealth for all. My worries are the exclusion of the unconnected. Fundamental rights-denial policies and regulations. That regulators and policymakers may not catch up with the pace of digitalization. That individuals’ privacy is being invaded at will by tech companies and the state. There is no more hiding place”

An expert in developmental psychology said, “I hope technology will continue to allow people to work from home, although I understand at this time many people think they are not as productive when they work from home. One massive plus to working from home: fewer accidents and much lower carbon emissions. I worry about the failure of big tech to protect privacy, instead harvesting personal data as they see fit. A bigger problem is the spread of disinformation via social media and the impact it is having on democracy and entire populations. Mark Zuckerberg should be in prison.”

A CEO of a major American web infrastructure company wrote, “I hope for more-flexible work. Lower cost of living. Higher productivity. More-diverse teams. More-equitable hiring. Better physical and mental health.”

A chief scientist and professor emeritus expert in physics said, “More activities will take place online because of what was learned from dealing with the pandemic. I hope for a reduction in travel and hence the expenditure of energy as more activities take place online. I worry about the concentration of power among the mega monopolies of Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and the like”

A civil society expert specializing internet governance, cybersecurity, internet freedom and human rights responded, “The political transformation that will take place as a result of the 2020 fall election will finally bring much needed social and economic reforms to the U.S. on or after Spring of 2021. Before then, there will be much suffering, death and dire economic consequences. Reforms will have lasting positive impacts on work, technology, privacy and security of employment and well-being. I hope the use of virtual communication technologies used during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020, will lead to significant change to work. Travel related to meetings will be reduced, a better work/life balance will be possible and 3D and virtual technologies will significantly improve from 2020 to 2025. I am concerned about omnipresent surveillance and continued economic disparity.”

A clinical psychologist wrote, “Things being better completely depends on closing the digital divide. I live in two places, Cambridge, MA, and mid-coast Maine. I am unable to do the teacher training on DEI, SEL, trauma and distance learning from my home in Maine due to my internet provider’s unwillingness to provide quality access on our road with 38 houses. Teachers need additional training and practice to learn how to best use distance learning, especially how to keep students engaged and accountable. That requires time and money. There is a lot we can learn to improve education from this first pivot, but education will only improve if we close the digital divide and give teachers the support. I have been doing tele-therapy and it works fairly well. Teenagers like it because it is cozier to communicate in their PJs on a couch, no need to travel and it doesn’t feel so scheduled and formal. Access to all kinds of tele-therapy, AI-informed mental health care and other kinds of health care will be better if we close the digital divide. I hope that so-called ‘service’ and ‘essential workers’ will garner a new respect, and that respect will be acknowledged by valuing the time and service with better pay, protection, healthcare and respect. I hope the housing crisis in this country will be taken more seriously and we can look to other countries for how safe housing and food access are addressed. This will take more than three years.”

A complex systems researcher based in Australia said, “A larger percentage of people will want to work from home post-COVID – saving time, transport costs and office space costs and reducing greenhouse gasses. People will be more comfortable keeping in touch via social media, conferencing software, etc. We need massive improvements to the network (fibre to the house may need to be rolled out – particularly for staff that need high-bandwidth applications). Also, there’s a need for more backbone bandwidth (easier with fibre), but costs need to come down as well.  I worry there will be even less privacy for individuals if they work from home (trying to maintain security for off-site home locations may require homes to have two networks, a VPN component connected to work and, separately, the less-secure home network).”

A consulting engineer commented, “I expect the increased deployment of and reliance on communication devices will improve the quality of life for many. Those managers who had been reluctant to consider remote workers have learned (hopefully) that productivity does not suffer due to remote work. This should increase flexible working arrangements for more individuals. Furthermore, increased reliance upon robotic solutions in areas of ‘essential work’ can improve the safety of workers in such work. I worry about the greater erosion of personal privacy”

A coordinator at a major university’s STEM program commented, “There will be fewer excuses for not connecting to things you say are important. People will make more friends, finding affinity groups who they can now more easily access. If they don’t exist now, they will because now we know people will go online. I am concerned about those without means or self-agency will not be able to flourish because they won’t be able to operate as well in society as those who are more fortunate”

A data scientist who tracks major societal trends responded, “By 2025 there will be accelerated use of technology, particularly in venues where it was not highly used previously (such as churches) and an accelerated return to recognition of the value of federal government for R and D and general coordination, an opportunity opened up by failure of federal government in this situation to perform effectively. Disruption typically causes questioning of value of existing norms and ways of doing things, so more disruption will follow as things are looked at from bottom-up perspective. There will be increased recognition of the value of collective efforts (a la the Apollo project and Manhattan project) to accomplish goals. I hope artificial intelligence will make it possible to better match individuals with life roles (jobs) meaning that society will benefit from better execution at all levels. I don’t have many worries. I think individuals can adapt pretty well. My biggest concern is that technology has the power to occupy people’s attention 24/7, to the detriment of their cognitive focus, which could end up hurting society as a whole”

A director for national laboratory for public policy based in Mexico wrote, “I believe life will be much better in general because technology itself will bring about quality of life, much better communication with friends and families, and increase productivity. In the aggregate, this crisis is showing the effect of the pandemia is worst in countries with weak well-being policies and a high level of inequality; this shows the importance of designing public policies to combat the digital divide. I hope for more efficiency in government actions, that there will be less impact human impact on the environment, more free time, etc. I worry that the digital divide could increase inequality in our already unequal society.”

A professor of management and public affairs based in Canada commented, “We need to reduce structural inequality, improve the quality of interaction and raise prosperity. My hope is for better access to health services, better governance, more resilience in infrastructure systems and more-efficient and cleaner energy production. I worry about surveillance, control and loss of access.”

A writer, philanthropist and social activist said, “Perhaps I’m too optimistic, but I see the broader use of technology by 2025 to facilitate education, political knowledge, access to medical care, communications (broadly defined) and general well-being (e.g., shopping). I expect broader and more equal access to communications technology, devices and knowledge repositories. I worry about unequal access and more political control.”

A director of a major university’s center on society and digital life wrote, “There will be more pedestrian-friendly cities, fewer automobiles, greater work flexibility for many and a sense of reconnection to place and people. I hope that internet access moves toward status as a publicly regulated utility (rather than being in the hands of the cable companies). I hope for the breakup of cable monopolies and the extension of internet access to rural areas as result of state support. I worry that the normativity of screen culture has been intensified by the pandemic. Will we know how to unplug and reconnect when this is over?”

A director of standards and strategy at a major technology company commented, “What I would like to be true is that everyone develops a greater sense of community care for each other. The analogy I use is that of smoking. While we accept that smoking is a personal choice, we have come a long way in realizing that one person’s personal choice directly affects others. As a result, many changes have in the use of common and community accessible areas has developed, e.g., limited indoor smoking and controlled outdoor smoking. This recent pandemic has created a heightened awareness of how we directly affect each other. The ‘new normal’ has to incorporate new guidance for how we take care of each other. The issue of ‘masks’ is the canonical example here today. Video conferencing is becoming normalized. This is good and bad. On the upside it is great to have a more-efficient method of working together. We’re learning its limitations. There really is value in being in the same room with someone. But we’re leveraging the value of online face-to-face. It saves time and requires less physical travel and it is more personal than a simple phone call. However, the seedy underbelly is the lack of security and privacy. ‘Zoom bombing’ briefly became a new thing. Culturally, do we really have that much disregard for each other that we have to do such things? From a technology perspective, are we really in it just to make money and thus security is a second priority? The average internet user will always expect that things work they are supposed to work. Business will always be in it to make money. So, the new normal will be a greater reliance on technology, even to the point of tracking people, and even less security and privacy because average people won’t even know it matters and isn’t working.”

HOPES: “Two things. First, our digital infrastructure needs help. The requirement here is that if we’re going to rely on more technology then we need to be able to support it. At the most basic level this means greater bandwidth to everywhere. However, that’s simplistic because bandwidth costs money and distributing that cost is itself problematic for a variety of policy reasons. So, there’s some real discussion to be had here. Second, security and privacy has to be the default, everywhere. This is not trivial. In the U.S. in particular but in other places as well, the average internet user doesn’t even realize how insecure and public everything they do is. We have built up a usage of ‘free’ services based on giving up security and privacy, and we have not made this clear to people. Nor has business bothered to be open about it. There is movement towards greater confidentiality everywhere, i.e., the use of encryption, but without a baseline requirement the rules change at will as business and services change owners for features and usage. We need an overarching vision and a commitment to its success.”

WORRIES: “The lack of security and privacy, and the downstream consequences of it. Consider the medical community, specifically insurance companies in the U.S. They have a huge, frankly lethal, impact on the lives of every U.S. citizen. HIPAA provides some protection but the problem with privacy is that once it’s lost it’s gone forever. It cannot be recovered. So, what happens when suddenly everyone knows everything there is to know about you and insurance companies take advantage of that? This is a real issue, among others, and that’s what scares me the most about technology. It takes problems like these, which could be small if it was just a few individuals compared to the entire population and it exposes them at scale, risking an entire population. This is just wrong.”

A director of technology innovation at a major U.S. telecommunications firm commented, “Speaking from the perspective of the U.S., the population will have time to reflect and act on matters that they ‘were too busy’ to address or think about before. For some who can’t abide with the isolation they will defy orders and risk others which, after some sort of significant emotional event, may place them in line with proper procedures other activities. On the social media side, the toxicity that is out today is slightly wilting due to an immune response from society. This will continue at a slow pace, but it will improve the overall health of society. Well-being will plummet in the next year as bad habits that take one to two years to surface chronically appear. People will adjust over the next few years and figure it out. Humanity often has to make harsh adjustments, but always seems to pull through.”

HOPES: “Video conference apps that interoperate. How many do we need? I hope we get a concerted effort to resolve learning for all ages online. I am worried about the children whose primary learning years are now.”

WORRIES: “The technology companies have a tremendous influence on learning success and can sway societal health and well-being.”

A distinguished technologist at a leading U.S. telecommunications company wrote, “The new normal in 2024 will be centered on work life, the importance of mental health and social responsibility. I hope to see care and concern over people’s mental health integrated into technological design and advancement. I worry about technology reliance.”

A futurist and consultant said, “So far I have seen that much of the focus of technological adaption has centered around direct-to-consumer action, particularly for small businesses. Within my community I have seen bakeries transform into farm-to-table distribution centers, small businesses that never worked on the web create webpages and adopt digital payments, and a general trend towards community-oriented communication with local governments to a degree that was not systematized in the past. In general, I believe our communities and local businesses have been floundering for years due to an inability or lack of motivation to adopt technology to help them scale. When focused on local needs, technology can deliver considerable additional reach and local integration. This is creating a new marketplace.”

HOPES: “If the monopolies in ads and social can be parked back enough to allow smaller players to flourish, we will see another technology boom around integrating widely available compute resources into communities in new ways.”

WORRIES: “The largest companies hold too much sway within their ecosystems and don’t allow for enough innovation of business models.”

A futurist and consultant based in Malaysia wrote, “The new normal would include people being more conscious about how their inaction can affect other people’s life and health. I hope the telecommunications infrastructure will be improved and health sciences will be more advanced by 2025. My worry is over the dominance of technology companies. Dependence on single technology owned by a single company could prevent most people from experiencing the best in life.”

A futurist and managing principal for a consultancy commented, “This emergency has changed old habits and perspectives. I believe that it has increased empathy. It is said that it takes 90 days to break a habit, and this temporary interim normal will have done that for many. It has also increased public participation in the social media world and added new voices – especially since many are combating loneliness or at least being alone. We have seen more progress on important issues like #BLM, and voices positive prevailing in the world around anti-semitic, anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, anti-Asian, etc. Bringing new voices to the party is a very positive step not seen in such numbers or for so long since the 1960s. In addition, there has been a major upgrade in people’s competencies with web tools and their abilities to use a variety of next-generation conferencing and performance tools and information formats like e-books and video.”

HOPES: “My hopes include: 1) Government funding for achieving high-speed networks in less-profitable regions, relieving access issues for cell and internet connectivity for the economically challenged and for those living in rural and remote districts. 2) Proper understanding of the role of technology in education at all levels, and classroom in-person versus e-learning models. There has to be a public policy discussion on raising the education levels in the U.S. and raising world standards with equal access for all. 3) A national collaboration of GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) to address historical context curation and engagement (e.g. the statues and street/building names issue) and the digitization of data, images and information for access by all. Each of these underpin the ideal that truth must precede reconciliation and a public forum and discussion provides the pathway to evolve this.”

WORRIES: “It’s a simple list but the underpinnings are very complex: 1) Privacy as individual choice. 2) Issues of racism, etc. in the big data world of facial recognition, human genome collections, law enforcement data, and so much more. 3) Malware. 4) Misinformation and disinformation: Foreign and national intervention in public discussion as well as elections. 5) The balance between copyright as an economic right and copyright as a right to learn and discover. 6) The immoral U.S. stance on patents for work methodologies, code, human biome, genes, etc., and pressure to extend these economic rights globally which stifles innovation mightily. 7) Poor (actually pathetic) oversight and understanding by policy makers and courts about all of these issues.”

A futurist/consultant based in North America said, “1) Telehealth will continue to become the new normal. 2) Remote temperature monitoring will remain in place at places with sensitive populations: prisons, nursing homes and border checkpoints. 3) Masks and personal-protection equipment will become socially acceptable in daily use in the West much as it has been for many years in the East.”

HOPES: “1) Increased options for right to forget and right to privacy. 2) Increased opportunities for micro lending/investment. 3) Increased opportunities for access to training”

WORRIES: “1) Use of personal information and automated social media influencing to concentrate power.”

A graduate researcher expert in cyber risks and cyber conflict said, “With a five-year window and COVID as a dominating trend over at least the next two years, I suspect that consumer electronics will attempt to address a range of health issues including contact tracing, diagnostics and electronic health records and will feed machine learning to improve more targeted prescriptions. While too late to address the worst of COVID (a vaccine and anti-viral will mitigate its impact), some long-term benefits might carry into a post-COVID world. However, in the longer term state- and industry-led intrusions on privacy will create a bifurcation between responsible and irresponsible states as to how this surveillance technology is used.”

A head of digital transformation, leadership and research based in Australia commented, “2025 is close enough to 2020 that we should remember the lessons of what worked this year for being healthy, how the climate benefited and the real and serious damage done when there are gaps in leadership. 2025 is also far enough away that a vaccine and/or treatment should have protected people and economic recovery should be well underway. I expect there will be some lasting beneficial social shifts such as in rethinking education. Remote access to healthcare and education can lead to greater equity of access and services if we solve infrastructure gaps. Greater flexibility afforded to families through remote work and more education options could lead to geographic shifts that aid rural communities. I do worry about access gaps, the digital divide.”

A journalist who writes about disruptive technologies at a popular U.S. business magazine commented, “In 2025 we will see: – More work at home than ever before.  – Better use of AI-powered technologies to do work that is dangerous or unpleasant.  – A fiercer struggle with cybercriminals. – 5G adoption in the low double digits.  – Further erosion of personal privacy and a younger generation emerging without much caring about it.  – A blurred line between the relationships of biological and digital entities such as chatbots, robots, autonomous vehicles and digital pets.”

HOPES: “If you include medical technologies, I see cure, prevention and containment of the current pandemic. I hope for: An increase in the number of emissions-free vehicles that reduce greenhouse gasses; video and mobile video communications that improve business and personal relationships (these may also damage existing relationships and business socialization – there is nothing online that resembles face-to-face encounters, but there will be fewer of those).”

WORRIES: “My worries include the loss of personal identity; a Toffleresque future of isolated humans; government surveillance; and, largest of all, cybercrime”

A member of the Internet Society of Barbados wrote, “In 2025, some people have lost their jobs, but they are innovative and have found new ways to earn money. Health care is now at the forefront in most countries, and it has been improved. Of course, there were tragic losses of life, but we now have learned new survival techniques, and we understand that the internet is a powerful tool. Looking forward, we need to look more at sustainability, environment, preservation and survival.”

HOPES: “I hope by 2025 everyone who is involved in tech will be looking at new ways to improve things. What we have to keep an eye on is the new growth of scamming, high increases in technology costs privacy issues and the responsibilities of governments and ICT to serve the public.”

WORRIES: “My worries are the lack of privacy, high costs and indiscriminate behaviour. I worry about trust.”

A professor and director of a major U.S. university’s center for health policy wrote, “The pandemic has called attention to a lot of festering issues with class and racial inequality that will lead to improvements for the world as a whole. It has also proven the importance of scientific research. Note, I’m answering this for the world as a whole. At this point there’s a large chance that will not be the case for the United States.”

A professor emeritus of computer science and member of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence wrote, “More people will have health insurance, and that insurance will be provided to individuals by the federal government in addition to other sources.”

A professor of computer science based in California commented, “The ‘new normal’ will involve more freedom for white-collar workers to work offsite.”

A professor of computer science based in Montreal responded, “I’m hoping non-essentials will be reduced or eliminated. For example, the PC [politically correct] #CancelCulture.”

HOPES: “Tech is always improving lives – expect that to continue.”

WORRIES: “I worry that there may be restrictions on AI research in the developed democracies for political reasons.”

A professor of economics who directs a labor and work-life project said, “In 2025 there will be greater use of technology in human interactions and greater reliance on digital guidance in daily life. Privacy will be lesser and social control will be greater, with a shift in economic security from jobs as a sole source of earnings to wider ownership/receipt of capital income. If we do not go down this route, there will be some form of feudalism with billionaires and their lackeys ruling a chaotic country, so I am expecting Americans will choose a ‘Statue of Liberty” viewpoint instead of the slaveholder Confederate statue’s view of what we must do. Technology will be critical because it will enable whichever view prevails to move more quickly to establish dominance in country. Why do I think we will go down more egalitarian path? Because most college-educated professionals and scientists will choose that way, and the totalitarians in the U.S. do not have the type of government or party resources to control us that their prototypes in China or Russia do. But I might have said the same about Germany before the Nazis took over.”

HOPES: “I hope for more and better education and information so people can make rational decisions.”

WORRIES: “I worry that the tech companies will do what the super-wealthy want and allow propaganda to propagate and/or use people’s personal data to threaten those who seek to maintain traditional freedoms. To do this, they will have to overcome their own workers’ views of what is right. Tech firms may also develop more/better AI robots that will displace and impoverish many workers. If we do not find way to assure that everyone benefits from tech, we in the U.S. will end up in economic feudalism, with a third-world of struggling poor people trying to live in a country dominated by elite who own machines and technology.”

A professor of economics and public policy at a major U.S. technological university said, “The main changes I envision are related to education and work. College will be affordable for more people because of the improvements in technology for delivering virtual classes. Similar technologies will allow people to work from home, allowing them to choose better locations to live. Social interactions outside school and work will remain the same.”

HOPES: “I hope for improved virtual school and office environments. If people are taking classes and working from home less time will be lost to commuting; there will be less pollution emitted while driving to work. That will improve the quality air, and the quality of life more broadly.”

WORRIES: “I worry about virtual manipulation – the abuse of personal information – to affect election results, and I worry about inequality – that the transformation brought about by new technologies might not benefit all individuals.”

A professor of government who specializes in political communication commented, “I want to be optimistic that the inequities exposed by the pandemic and the facts behind George Floyd’s killing will prompt new reflection on and use of technology in people’s lives. However, there are lots of reasons to be pessimistic.”

A professor of law at a major university in the U.S. commented, “I foresee more people working from home using various forms of technology, teleconferencing and digital formats. Working at home will help many workers better stay in touch with their families and what matters most. People will learn how to use Zoom, streaming and other platforms. People will long for personal contact with others. I assume that measures will be in place to keep the virus under control or a vaccine will have been developed.”

A professor of sociology based in Texas wrote, “Humans are incredibly adaptive. COVID-19 will force people and societies to adapt in new ways to address issues of persistent inequality in economic opportunity, health care and social status. The present unrest over racial inequality will likewise result in positive changes that yield a more just and equitable society. History is filled with example of disruptions being catalysts for social change.”

HOPES: “The spread of information is a double-edged sword. While it is possible to widely disseminate information that will promote safety, the inability to control misinformation results in a competition for legitimacy in the digital age. Hence, the capacity for good related to communication technologies still is shadowed by the darker impulses of humanity. Technology will continue to enhance quantity and quality of life for those who can afford the health-related innovations. A vaccine for COVID-19 will be available. Access to this vaccine will be contested. And due to the unfounded fears fed by misinformation, some will refuse to get it.”

WORRIES: “The issue of who controls information will continue to be a vexing problem for advanced societies. Private companies like Facebook and Google have disproportionate power with insufficient accountability.”

A project manager active in ICANN said, “I live on a small island in the Pacific, and the internet has always been an integral part of people’s lives here, despite the expense. Internet connectivity is expensive throughout the Pacific, even for current ADSL connections, and it has erratic speeds. While we – in this setting – might acknowledge our changed circumstances, the chances of doing things differently are more remote for us, not enabling people to be as creative as they could be if the internet was more affordable and accessible. We are an island that thrived on tourism, and nearly 90% of our income came from tourism or tourism-related activity. Since COVID and the borders being closed for over three months, the island is like a ghost town all over. Businesses and huge hotels have had to shut their doors because there are no guests. The country is trying to open its borders to restore industry within the island, but there is reluctance by many locals who don’t work in the tourism industry or at least rely on it, because we didn’t have COVID on the island and we don’t want it here. The government has to rethink its priorities and encourage industries where people have to do things differently. The new fibre internet cable has been on the island for six months and it has still not been rolled out. It has got to be put to use. Government should be encouraging industries that will be able to use the huge potential of the internet for greater benefit for all the people on this island – the 12,000 locals, some currently out of work due to the loss of jobs in the hospitality industry. At the moment, there has not been much in the way of inspiration coming from our country’s leaders.”

HOPES: “We have the potential for great internet access. If it was more affordable, it could be an asset. Attracting people to the island for other benefits than the scenery would bring other benefits for our locals and develop a greater diversity of services and locally produced goods. We must become more self-reliant rather than returning to the commodity-focused society we have been. We have to think outside of the square and realise that impacts such as the current pandemic can be upon us at any time and if we are not prepared (as we were not for the broader impacts of COVID in 2020 on our small island) then we only have ourselves to blame. Smaller homestays may become the norm, rather than the sprawling accommodations that we built to bring in thousands of tourists each year who changed our landscape into a plastic mess and into an alcohol culture which was not a good model of society for our young people. Not having tourists on the island has been a bonus for island families with young families. We have to focus on a different type of tourist in the future.”

WORRIES: “I worry that the internet and online work and leisure activities may infiltrate people’s lives so much that face-to-face won’t be seen as the norm anymore. People will become more isolated. COVID-19 will not have helped. People have realised that the world is not a safe place anymore. Companies will consider virtual meetings as a more-economical option even though some employees will have decreased satisfaction in a remote working setting. Tech companies are getting better at using technology to manipulate people’s lives. E-commerce abounds so that there is so much on offer and attracting people to purchase online even when they can’t tell the difference between what is a real store or a fake one. Privacy will be harder to control despite GDPR. Illegal hacking is a worry and so is online safety and protections for children who may access inappropriate sites or have them foisted on their mobiles by certain companies that take advantage of them.”

A research scientist based at Oxford University observed, “It is difficult in normal times to get people to move outside their comfort zones and question the way things are. We have all been rather forcibly ejected from our comfort zones, so more conversations are emerging about the real need for travel to conferences, what flexible work can look like, how technology can make life better, how we deal with inequalities and more.”

HOPES: “If we are proactive, we can offer more technology that serves the needs of people rather than IT departments.”

WORRIES: “I worry we will end up with invasive tech being used to control more and more aspects of people’s lives. That is the easiest route for companies and governments to take, unfortunately, so we will need to push in the positive direction if we hope to avoid this.”

A research scientist based in North America said, “There will be a better, sustained work-life balance, with more understanding of personal interruptions/commitments. Professional productivity will generally be up, but there will be fewer opportunities for creativity. Economic security may actually be increased, as changing jobs does not necessarily require a physical move.”

HOPES: “I hope for more-stable and more-immersive video conferences, the better management of larger meetings online and more background filtering”

WORRIES: “I fear the erosion of privacy with more-invasive work-from-home (WFH) technology”

A research team leader at an organization involved in taking on the COVID-19 virus responded, “I’m hopeful that we will be in a society of greater flexibility in terms of work; one in which racial disparities in digital technology and in tech companies will be addressed; one in which we pay greater attention to disparities in access to digital technology.”

A researcher at center focused on the future of work and employment responded, “Remote work will make life better for people with long commutes. It may revive towns outside of main cities. Telemedicine will start to equalize access to basic care and high-quality specialists.”

WORRIES: “The digital divide could become worse. Politicians could opt to give digital education to poor and minorities instead of in-person instruction.”

A researcher with a technology policy organization commented, “Work at home will be more common, 40-hour workweek will be reduced. I hope people will be using more carbon-effective transport and that there will be better environmental regulations in general.”

HOPES: “Better environmental considerations so that the effects of climate change can be mitigated.”

WORRIES: “I worry about hate speech and opinion versus fact attack on scientific institutions by big tech and social media platforms.”

A respondent based in Sweden wrote, “A lot of companies will have much more flexible working hours and work from home which will allow for more time for staff at home and less time spent commuting. You can also work from your place of choice.”

A senior fellow at a major California university responded, “People will have revised their value sets to things that create more community and happiness. We will also be less materialistic and moving to more-balanced lives.”

HOPES: “My hope is for less tech for its own sake and more of a balance of appropriate technology”

WORRIES: “We will continue to be technological optimists and assume tech can solve all problems when, in fact, it is the root of many of the problems. Digital ID and facial ID will be used in many societies as forms of political control”

A sociology professor who specializes in social psychology and social movements said, “More people will work from home. I am hopeful there will be more positive environmental changes such as reduced pollution and reduced consumption.”

HOPES: “People are getting more comfortable and accepting of using technology to perform functions such as work from home. There will be positive innovations in solar panels and battery storage.”

WORRIES: “There is not enough privacy protection. People get misinformation too easily.”

A strategic expert in telecommunications and public policy advocacy responded, “People will have more freedom to work – and even socialize – remotely. This will lead to improved quality of life and a lower cost of living.”

HOPES: “People will be able to live in diverse communities.”

WORRIES: “The downside of increased work flexibility is an ‘always on’ dynamic that negatively impact life balance.”

A technology and science researcher based in Namibia observed, “The reality of life will be a lot better in 2025, after the population adapts to the new normal. At this time it may be difficult, but as humanity adjusts life will certainly get better. People’s perseverance will create new solutions and paradigms that will enhance life. Many innovations will have been created to help manage the situation that will be relevant after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

HOPES: “There will be more adoption of a digital lifestyle as more people get comfortable with the use of technology. There will also be the introduction of better tools to make the digital lifestyle smoother. There will be enhanced productivity in the coming years due to this capacity that the majority will have developed.”

WORRIES: “Privacy is a major issue of concern. With enhanced utilization of the digital platform, the world will be essentially digital. The new normal will be more data-driven and competitive, as we see more investment in technology. Ethics will be a major concern around the adoption of different technologies.”

A technology CEO based in the American Northeast commented, “Society has been given a crash course in distance learning, telehealth and tele-commuting. Citizens, businesses and government have been investing heavily in telecommunications infrastructure. There are far more choices today than six months ago.”

A technology developer/administrator based in North America commented, “I believe that the acceptance of WFH will improve productivity; as long as there are periods of in office work. Increased WFH will greatly improve quality of life for families and lower the costs to both the employer and the employee.”

A U.S.-based professor with expertise in workforce development commented, “I think the most significant change is the growing ability of individuals in some sectors to work from home. The popularization of teleconferencing software also facilitates communication over distances – whether that be for work or social connections – family and friends who live far.”

HOPES: “Stronger and more reliable internet to support telework and communications.”

WORRIES: “I worry about privacy issues and the lack of digital literacy on the part of young adults”

A wireless technology analyst commented, “People will develop a communications ‘interruptus’ jump out of whatever, pose or answer a question, then resume prior context. To do this, the means of communication have to follow the tables of authorities of each participant: Who is allowed to interrupt and under what rules? And what happens to the ‘remains/take-aways’ after the communication?”

HOPES: “I hope that Gordon Bell’s glasses do more than record but also analyze and suggest based on their observations while respecting the privacy policies of all concerned. I record my participation in sports to study for keys for my behavior and I hope the analysis tools get better.”

WORRIES: “Surveillance. Report it all, record it all, share it all. My ownership of myself is compromised by all the witnesses, including things I own but do not set policy for or control.”

An activist working to create new forms of participatory democracy commented, “I expect in 2025 to be in a postwar period of recovery. Governments will look different than they do today, with some embracing more-participatory and intentionally-antiracist forms of democracy, while others hold on to the systems of government established by white supremacists in the 18th Century. Depending on municipality, broadband internet will be considered a human right, and there will be a greater number of people working remotely.”

HOPES: “I hope that society has broadband internet as a human right. There should be a community-controlled code of conduct and standards for social media companies.”

WORRIES: “My worry is Facebook’s support of the rise of fascism in the U.S. I think it’s highly likely that Facebook, Google, and Amazon will be broken up in an antitrust action. If not, we’re f****d.”

An analyst for a major branch of the U.S. government wrote, “I expect economic growth, science, technology, education developments and a better quality of life in general.”

HOPES: “ICT will allow greater access to information and defeat the digital divide”

WORRIES: “Potential privacy issues”

A manager for a technology sourcing and logistics operation wrote, “I am optimistic about 2025 because self-awareness and resiliency tends to influence everything humans do. Information literacy and technology fluency will become basic necessities for all.”

HOPES: “My hope is that digital technology is seen only as a tool in humans’ lives, not a data-governing determinant; life is tumultuous, today’s data will not be tomorrow’s data and as such it can’t be predetermined by any computing power.”

WORRIES: “I worry over people’s need for awareness and resiliency in their personal lives in regard to data privacy, security, risk, etc..”

An anonymous respondent said, “There have been years warnings of pandemics. But people on whole don’t believe warnings. Consequently, voters haven’t pushed their political representatives to enact programs to deal with pandemics. By 2025 that has changed. And that is good.”

HOPES: “I’m not sure tech will play a different role than it otherwise would have. Perhaps Apple will push further the Apple Watch’s health-monitoring capabilities.”

WORRIES: “A concern is technology hype. Over-promising and under-delivering turns people into cynics, and that is not good for society. Tesla is especially guilty of this in its claims of its autopilot being self-driving in a few months. As someone working in machine learning, I think such claims are completely false.”

An anonymous respondent said, “Expect more embracement of telecommunications and less commuting-based transportation.”

HOPES: “I hope tech is more transparent to people, especially privacy rights. I hope there is less emphasis on social media and more on efficiency and innovation.”

WORRIES: “I worry that older people will experience a digital divide.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “There will be a very difficult period of adjustment to the new normal, but the trends toward telecommuting, enhanced digital learning and reduced environmental impact from commuting will turn out to be very positive for society in general. The economic issues will drag on for a long time, and we will see a tremendous reduction in non-online retail businesses and in-person dining, entertainment and shopping. As this happens, new opportunities will become available in localized food production, small-scale manufacturing and insourcing – especially the return of production away from China. Social issues will moderate as society swings back from a desire for radical changes toward a more moderate environment of inclusion, acceptance and unity of purpose.”

HOPES: “I hope telecommuting to work will provide the impetus for more people to live in rural areas with a higher quality of life than urban settings.”

WORRIES: “Lack of privacy will become more evident and detrimental to an open and free society.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “The average person will be more likely to work from home, less likely to commute. There will be a renewed appreciation for the bicycle and healthier lifestyles. There will basic subsidized healthcare for all. There will be telehealth for some medical specialties, medical devices for telehealth, etc. There will be privacy issues in regard to answering business/professional video calls from home (leakage, recording of sessions and storage, consent, etc.). Privacy innovations may emerge to deal with personal phone numbers, children popping in, open view of private living quarters – all add up to a loss of privacy. Expect a loss of wages for many professions as people may be paid less for virtual participation than for in-person ones. There may be a more-precarious economic situation because of lower remuneration. There will be a greater risk of outsourcing jobs to the lowest bidder abroad.”

HOPES: “Less commuting, less traffic, more-manageable cities, better wages in rural areas. Telehealth in rural areas. More personal time.”

WORRIES: “The loss of privacy; a transparent society.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “There will be less travel (both air and commuting) and hence 1) less greenhouse gas, 2) happier lifestyles and 3) better-connected local communities. I also think there will be better politics, as people absorb the reality of what happens when you ignore science.”

HOPES: “I have very few hopes. The internet has been a huge disappointment in that it has primary served corporate interests rather than humanity. That is unlikely to change until government steps in to regulate things much more, particularly to combat monopolies and promote open standards.”

WORRIES: “My worries are surveillance, centralized power (both political and economic) and the dumbing down of society.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “The new normal in 2025 could include: An increased use of doctor appointments by teleconference for routine check-ups and procedures. An increase in use of wearing facemasks for patients who have common colds and viruses or working at home when an employee is sick. An increase in schools using computers at the K-12 level for day-to-day homework. An increase in video calls for regular personal calls instead of audio phone.”

HOPES: “The biggest change will be using tech for routine doctor visits. Going to the doctor in-person for routine visits is annoying and wastes time when so much of it could be done with a video conference call.”

WORRIES: “I worry about the ways in which technology companies use and sell personal data.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “There will be better healthcare, more organized global response to pandemics, more remote learning, increased internet access, more reliance on technology versus face-to-face, more streaming entertainment (movies, etc.), more drive-in theaters and concert venues.”

HOPES: “My hope is internet access for all and inexpensive training and education.”

WORRIES: “I worry about the increased use of AI. We need to establish boards on ethics, etc.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “In 2025 the current new normal has sped up changes that were already underway. For a long while, the application of computer science to daily lives of ordinary people has struggled to achieve its early promise of labor-saving and productivity-enhancing. This is in part to devices and systems not working right, as well as in part to people being slow to adopt new technology, whether device or system. In the times to come technology will also be aiming to improve quality of activities and interactions. New adopters, as they work with new technology create waves of improvements as they find uses and shortcuts that work for them. Slow adoption does not benefit from that as well as rapid, widespread adoption. The measures being taken to advance stay-at-home time will spill over as the months go by. Digital technologies will be increasingly used for working from home, whether for pay or as a volunteer, as well as for tending to home necessities like purchasing, finances, school homework/assignments, home security, cyber security, health care. People will worry more about the loss of face-to-face contact and try to make those instances of greater quality. The cost of technology, both that of the hardware-software and that of the service provision, will be of greater concern. People who can’t afford to have digital technologies do not learn to use them, they can’t keep up at school or work or play and they will increasingly voice their displeasure at being left behind as the disparity generated by economic inequality becomes more evident. We will probably wish we had done a better job with instilling net neutrality in the early 20th century as a result and try again to level the playing field.”

HOPES: “My hope is for economic equality.”

WORRIES: “I worry about surveillance and loss of privacy, the usual ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ Big Brother and (more recent) ‘Person of Interest’-TV-series types of issues.”

An anonymous respondent commented, “People now value human interaction more than any time before. So instead of using technology in a manner that leads to social isolation, the role of digital technology in peoples’ lives will be used more toward productivity, collaboration, creativity, building skills and advancing the digital economy.”

HOPES: “I hope to see technology improving human skills, creating opportunities and boosting creativity.”

WORRIES: “I worry over technology companies invading people’s individual privacy, exposing people’s personal lives and tracking people and people not knowing their rights in the digital world.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “The status of the average person in 2025 cannot be measured solely by the improvements in digital technologies but in the broader context of economic, social and political developments. Given the current administration and the abusive policies on the lower economic and social strata, advances in digital technologies will enhance the lives of the upper income and upper middle income groups with more wealth and opportunities and thus widen the gap over those less educated as their jobs will be replaced by robots. Their children will fall further behind by being significantly less able to access and take advantage of digital and remote learning programs. With very smart technologists and highly astute venture capitalists, digital technologies will continue to march along, bringing forth a variety of innovative tools for work and learning. The more-advanced, educated families will be well-equipped to capitalize on these offerings as their children have the internet capacity, the latest iPhones and iPads, the education, the time to indulge and adult technical support. Lower-income families may have some of these pillars of support but not all to leverage these tools into their daily lives.”

HOPES: “The recent closure of schools due to COVID-19 has demonstrated the opportunities for distance learning but also identified huge gaps in the process ranging from inadequate support tools (available computers, Wi-Fi) to learning spaces for children to home-tutoring and guidance. At this point, the loss of learning skills experienced by lower income families can only be estimated but these youngsters fell further behind in their grade levels. There is a huge reservoir of older, educated seniors who could be excellent remote tutors to these at-risk youngsters given the ability to hook up the groups offering one-on-one tutoring that these kids really need. Seniors wouldn’t have to leave the comfort and security of their homes. Matchups can be done across local school districts and across the country. The learning subjects could also be extended to the parents of these children for a range of adult learning opportunities from ESL (English as a Second Language) to math and basic English composition. Opportunities are endless.”

WORRIES: “I worry about structural impediments to learning”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Medical resources will change for the better – especially for underserved communities. Also, as students have been forced to use digital technology for their education, their use of technologies will improve. Ultimately that will improve their employment and economic security. Privacy will suffer.”

An anonymous respondent observed, “The change will lead to greater disparity between classes of people. White collar / information-based workers will see accelerated flexibility around work location and schedules (which I view as a net positive, though this is not without some downside). However, those in traditional blue collar jobs and in in-person service jobs will not see much change, which may be seen as a relative decline. Some sectors, such as travel and hospitality, may be negatively affected for the long term, depressing wages, security and overall employment levels. On the margins, commercial real estate may see slower growth.”

HOPES: “Greater flexibility in work location and schedule. Continued improvement in communications and connectivity (and ease thereof).”

WORRIES: “I worry about privacy, security and disparity.”

An engineer based in Cameroon wrote, “Any conscious government by now should have been able to come to the realization of how fragile their infrastructures can be when faced with such a global pandemic. It is important now to realize how international relations play a huge role in determining the risk faced by nations in such times. There has been a way to curb the spread by the application of certain diplomatic actions and measures setup in some nations that has kept the impact relatively low there. North Korea for example, by virtue of its relations with the rest of the world, proves to have a strategy that makes it less vulnerable in times like this. Considering the rest of the world, I have observed the impact of cultural inheritance in the fight against the pandemic most notably from some Scandinavian countries, who despite the steady rise of infections maintained a normal flow of life with the consciousness that they were dealing with an existential threat while the rest of the world folded into lockdowns at different levels of severity. It has not been uncommon to see organisations quickly restructure and cause a steep drop in economic and social activity throughout an entire nation. Many who did not set up plans for chaos management will struggle and eventually fade out into oblivion by virtue of the nature of the business models they operate on. Fast-forwarding few years into the future, I do believe that the importance of a service economy will become more apparent even to nations without strong participation. What we shall see is a rise in computing service demand both in product development and consumption. I expect internet usage to more than triple within the next two years across the globe. The demand for online services is going to grow at a geometric rate, and many new services with different offerings are going to be made known across the world. The biggest winners are those who engage in cloud-based services, either using or building them. Moving operations to a remote mode could cut down production costs while helping companies maintain mostly high-performance staff who are most tech-savvy. Those who are fortunate to still have their jobs will be able to have more time for their families and loved ones as was never the case before. They might more or less be able to gain more fulfilment in their job if they maintain the same levels of discipline. This is, however, a dangerous and tempting event that could also cause people to lose sight of the fact that the demand has increased and will be requiring more effort to monitor and drive service delivery. I do hold the view that we are going to be more and more sunk into our electronic gadgets, trying to keep up with all we need to be aware of about our environment, and new ways of connecting and staying in touch are going to be developed. I see new interfaces for communicating at a more-profound level being developed and quickly gaining widespread adoption even in very low or third-world economies. I see better infrastructures being put in place and laws around handling pandemics designed or improved for future response. There’s going to be a blueprint for how different nations can respond to such events without creating social panic, while ensuring most people benefit from it in their own fair share.”

HOPES: “The technology-related changes that I would hope for are ones that change the interfaces (whether physical or virtual) through which we access the different technologies, bringing it closer to a more profound reality such that one gets to express their true self while connecting more closely to their surroundings. In the information industry, this could involve providing individuals with a direct connection to the source of truth and limiting the degree to which third parties can propagate information. I hope for smaller gadgets that perform at scale, providing small services that are efficient and greatly increase our overall productivity. Then I also imagine an industrial design that gets closer to how nature organises itself, with minimal pollution and efficient manufacturing. Plants for example shed their leaves but there’s not necessarily other plants to sweep them away but they are in turn absorbed by the soil to provide nutrients. I expect technology manufacturing to get closer to such manufacturing design”

WORRIES: “Technology companies, especially those in social media industry, benefit from the audience they can get but they have no control over the impact of the information shared on those networks regarding the sensitive groups out there, no matter how hard they try to limit or mitigate some types of content. This is a generally known ‘hard problem,’ and tech alone won’t solve it. What we need is to take a step back to consider our lives without some form of technology and slowly begin to measure how much of an impact these companies have on our lives as human beings and how necessary they are. Tech companies often set out to remove redundancies that exist and reduce inefficiencies that may exist in our day-to-day lives, and that doesn’t come for free. We are often called to make a choice of being exposed and managing the consequence later or not joining the bandwagon in the first place. Some software and machines that provide a value of some kind also do more than what they were initially designed to do therefore leaving room for possibilities that may expose the vulnerability of a person or create some form of discomfort even when the value provided is critical. In certain parts of the world, there’s no way to hold the companies accountable for that, and that is unfair. These tech companies need to ensure that they have well-defined and respected policies wherever their products can be distributed and used. If I buy an iPhone in Africa, usually in the informal market, there’s no way to claim damages incurred from the use of a given app or the device itself from Apple, because there’s no specific policy for Africans about how Apple products are expected to be used in the area and what liabilities they are responsible for. Companies need to do better in protecting the moral integrity and safety of their consumers and also provide clear information about any changes they make and they should gather knowledge about how well their communication gets across in the different distribution regions.”

An entrepreneur from Philadelphia responded, “We will continue to learn about the transmission of viral disease and how to mitigate risk via use mobile tech. We will return to a ‘normal’ human interaction both socially and at work but not before we learn to apply tech to identify hot spots and adjust behaviors in isolated ways that do not impact total communities, countries and economies.”

An executive with a global entertainment company commented, “By 2025 there will have been giant leaps in adoption of certain things – contactless payments like Apple Pay, being paperless at work, remote collaboration.”

HOPES: “I hope there will be an environment impact from the less travel and paperless work”

WORRIES: “My concerns are privacy and surveillance. As we do more online, the things civil libertarians have been warning against get more likely to happen.”

An expert in designing online education and knowledge-sharing systems wrote, “Technology will play more of a role in terms of work/life balance for families. As people prove that they can get certain types of work done effectively from home while relying on conference calls, sharing platforms, etc., employers may encourage more work-at-home scenarios or hybrid work-at-home scenarios for more employees, even after things return to ‘normal.’ I’m hoping this will allow for a slightly better work-life balance, as commuting less leaves more time to spend doing other things.”

HOPES: “Better security on tech platforms; better vetting of content resources and their origins – transparency so that the media cannot hold such frightening sway over mass public opinion.”

WORRIES: “Biased media reports from powerful players can influence the outcomes of our elections, the honest representation of the population of this country.”

An expert in genetic programming and computer science wrote, “There will be more remote work, more video conferencing, more streaming services. I hope for better e-health services, more electronic government services, better election procedures and more local self-government. My worries are more surveillance, more drone-related incidents and more information and privacy breaches”

An expert in learning technologies, digital life and higher education wrote, “We will begin to use technology in ways that take advantages of its benefits – for example, data collection, analysis, modeling and automatic operations that can be accomplished by robots. People can begin to explore anew the ways in which human interaction might occur in all areas of study and application, from the arts to humanities to social sciences and the sciences. The new normal will involve more-individualized approaches to interaction, while aspects of large- and small-crowd interaction will diminish. Corporations will continue to re-think the organization of work and implications of supply chain interaction. Governments will continue to reinvent cross-governance interactions and alliances. Health and human services organizations (including schools at all levels) will continue to explore wellness and learning needs – long- and short-term. Issues of information accuracy, privacy and security will be at the center of all organizational change.”

HOPES: “More opportunities for individual and individualized learning across the spectrum of organizations – from access to information to daily application.”

WORRIES: “Use of technology that encourages loss of necessary, functional human interaction and exchange; use of technology to digitize and replicate dysfunctional behavior; use of technology to discourage exploration and invention; use of technology to promote distrust, fear, anxiety; use of technology to discourage human agency; use of technology to concentrate power in contrast to sharing power.”

An expert in marketing strategy based in India said, “The COVID-19 crisis has disruptively changed the norms of work. Working from home became the norm rather than an option, and this in the long-term influences how and where people live. Once people work from home, it also affects the notion of work-life balance. While people can spend more time with family, they will also feel at ease with having a co-worker thousands of miles away in a different country, as the notion of office-space both shrink as well as expands. This will also affect the labor market, as you do not need to live in New York to apply for a job in New York in many cases anymore. While in the short run there have been many difficulties that people have faced due to the crisis, in the long run, COVID-19 crisis is going to break silos, and usher new innovation as better technologies for work from home develop. COVID-19 has truly moved us to the post-internet workplace.”

HOPES: “The iron curtain between work and home life will be reduced, which will especially help employees with demanding personal lives, such as parents raising an infant, or children caring for elderly.”

WORRIES: “New privacy laws will be needed to make sure that firms do not collect intrusive data about workers.”

The chief technology officer for a technology strategies and solutions company wrote, “Things I expect – more so if Biden is elected, given what he’s said he wants to do regarding 21st-century employment: Technology – The future depends on technology and supporting technology education. Flight from cities – More people will work from home (or from remote-satellite centers) instead of working in a larger central office; similarly, I would not be surprised to see more startups that don’t depend on everyone being co-located. This requires improved remote collaboration tools (continuing and accelerated trends from COVID-19). Cord-cutting – I don’t expect the uptick in Netflix and related streaming services to reverse. On the road – I would not be surprised to see more effort into self-driving vehicles as part of a change in the way we approach transportation post-COVID.”

HOPES: “We need to improve technology-related education and the amount of money spent on research and development and work to attract more of the world’s talent to study and stay in the U.S.”

WORRIES: “I worry more about the people tempted to misuse technology than the technology itself. Going back in time, people used Lotus 1-2-3 to create text documents, something never envisioned by its creator. While that had a positive outcome, I’m not convinced that every unexpected tool will only be used for the intended purpose.”

The digital minister for a Southeast Asian nation-state said, “There will be more working from home, but places such as courts and prisons that are often ignored will need system overhauls, as will schools. My hope is that technology is used as a tool and not for posting narcissistic selfies and harmful bullying.”

A legal market analyst wrote, “The lives of many professionals will improve with greater use of technology to allow flexible work and easy access to fast internet. The lives for service workers will be unchanged or worse, with forced, involuntary contact with people and the risk of exposure to illnesses, low pay and generally poor benefits.”

HOPES: “I hope for more flexibility in working and health care advances in use of technology”

WORRIES: “I fear that more personal data is becoming available for large data companies and there is a risk of misuse.”

A longtime ICANN leader based in Australia responded, “The ‘new normal’ and its necessary reliance on internet- and ICT-enabled interactions is a positive driver to reduce much of the digital divide we see across the globe, and a globally connected community with cost-effective, efficient access at bandwidth to meet people’s needs is a good thing in my opinion.”

HOPES: “My hope is for more pressure to ensure connectivity for more of the world’s population.”

WORRIES: “There are risks that more new divides will be created by ‘walled-garden’ approaches. There are risks to individuals’ privacy and more opportunity to inappropriately take advantage of less-savvy internet users.”

A longtime Internet Society leader based in India commented, “In personal and professional lives the new normal could be a significant shift away from superfluous products and unnecessary services that most people thought they could not without. On the luxury end, this might mean the end to compulsive thinking, for example, that a weekend is a good time to fly out on a holiday or that you must do a battery of diagnostic tests if you sneeze, that you require a Hilton breakfast’s choice every morning, that a car engine capable of 200 miles per hour is just not enough. Life could be simpler and cleaner. In professional lives, the new normal could be a local employment for jobs that require physical presence and global employment for work done online. More people will get connected, more globally, with better streams of connectivity, and internet presence might be understood to be equally as or more important than physical presence in many ways.”

A new-media anthropologist said, “I want to believe that life will be better for most people in 2025. However, it’s not the pandemic that will determine the new normal. It’s the 2020 presidential election. Depending on who wins, the movements set in motion will either be supported and pushed further, or there will be government and societal push back that will result in worse conditions for everyone.”

A participant in the work of the Internet Engineering Task Force said, “I am hopeful that the U.S. will fix its broken healthcare system now that it realizes it is failing. People will rely on online services a lot more. All online services, including government services, will be a lot better. The tradeoff will be a loss of privacy.”

The head of research at a major U.S. web infrastructure company said, “There will be reduced friction for making transformative change in policy. My hope is the internet for all. I worry over bad security practices and a lack of tech company accountability.”

The following predictions are from respondents who said most people’s lives will be about the same in 2025 as they were prior to the arrival of the pandemic

A longtime, well-known technology leader said, “I’m cautiously optimistic. Working from home supported by communications technology could create more employment opportunities across a wider geographic region, be more inclusive and encourage diversity. While cities are efficient and offer advantages to residents, they have costs (although they do seem to be resilient – see the book ‘Scale’). We could reduce transportation congestion, pollution, energy consumption and lower the cost of living for much of the population (of course employers will align pay to cost of living). The current crisis has exposed our fragile supply chains. Their brittle structures have led to both scarcity and waste as well as hardship – technology could help reestablish regional production and distribution and supply chain agility responding to black swan events as well as simple shifts in consumer demand – for example, the inability of food supply chains to move from restaurant and institutional supply to consumer supply is a sad state of affairs. Telemedicine implementation might finally get serious in order to provide wider access to health care at lower costs to more of the population – a lesson that should be learned from the current crisis is the population’s health and welfare is everyone’s problem if not attended to. Technology can increase the resiliency of individuals as well as firms, societies, geographic regions and nations – we might find a better balance between globalization versus populism. Privacy is getting a bit more attention, and I applaud Apple’s attempts to put a spotlight on this on behalf of their users – we will see how this unfolds.”

WORRIES: “Facebook is amoral, irresponsible and evil – democracy doesn’t stand a chance against Facebook and how it can be used to undermine community and escalate division at scale and for a profit. It’s hard to understand how Facebook’s executive team can live with themselves. Society needs clarity: Either a firm is a common carrier (and should be regulated as such), or a firm must take responsibility for the traffic on its network. While I agree that Amazon’s human resources policies need a lot of improvement, I’m not so worried about Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple – there is plenty of competition. For example, the fuss over Apple’s App Store policies seems rather silly – it is their platform, and (relative to installed base) Apple’s market share is small and faces a lot of competition. Society would be better served by regulators focusing on the abuses of labor, unreasonable productivity measurement systems that undermine workers’ health and safety, abuses of ‘contractor’ status and uses of loopholes to get around the ‘costs’ of responsibility. Another example: Spotify’s claims of unfair treatment are just ludicrous from a firm that has practically institutionalized cheating content creators – how do we solve the bigger issue of a lack of investment in detailed accounting systems that would more fairly pay content creators? The use of work-at-home or remote-work technologies to unreasonably track and monitor employees or contractors is a potential risk. It is too early to tell where this will lead, however there are issues that might not be in the best interests of society. These technologies might inadvertently lead to discrimination, increasing inequality and further invasion of privacy – some forms of regulation or standards of conduct may be necessary.”

A professor of computer science commented, “I have hope for new AI-based methods of analyzing and combatting microbial and other diseases (including cancer), and technologies like CRISPR should enable advances in the health domain. Robots in the home to support independent living may become more serviceable and affordable, though still with severe limitations in intelligence and agility (especially dexterity).”

WORRIES: “I share the often-stated worries about excessive, often secretive, surveillance, breach of privacy and security, fabricated and hateful news, increased political polarization and state-sponsored digital malware and havoc, with the potential for disruption of essential services. Increased development and deployment of automated, AI-guided weaponry, and a corresponding new arms race, including in space, and increasing international tensions are also obvious worries.”

A distinguished professor emeritus of engineering wrote, “Assuming there are effective vaccines, the memory of COVID-19 and its effects will fade rapidly. As evidence, I would cite society’s response to the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic. The big uncertainty in my mind is the extent to which the economy will recover by 2025. We may still be poorer by then, depending in large part on government policy responses to business collapse, unemployment and so forth. People are social and tribal, so I fully expect that face-to-face meetings, conferences and so forth will resume once they are safe. I hope there will be innovations in telepresence and multi-party interaction that make face-to-face meetings less important, but I’m skeptical. This need to see and touch each other is deep in our biology. Work-from-home will gain acceptance, but regular physical presence will still be important. The willingness to meet in person will continue to be regarded as a measure of interest/dedication/loyalty, so signaling it will continue to be important. Trends toward remote interaction, such as telemedicine and virtual walkthroughs in real estate, will continue, and they have probably been given a boost by the pandemic. Academic events, such as seminar series and conferences, will become globally available via recording and streaming. But I think the tribal ritual aspect of conferences will still be a powerful reason for people to be physically present when possible.”

HOPES: “I hope that the legal system will find ways to do more things electronically (e.g., notarized signatures, low-stakes legal proceedings). The legal system is still incredibly slow: justice is delayed and therefore denied. I despair of this, but I should have a unified view of all of my medical-related information (history, visits, labs, billing, insurance, payments). Similarly, I should have a unified view of all of my finance-related information (bank balances, credit cards, pre-tax accounts, pensions, insurance, etc.). There should be privacy-preserving ways that I could entertain bids to improve my choices (change in insurance, change in investments, etc.).”

WORRIES: “Everything that is networked is insecure. Companies are failing on security and fraud prevention. Enhanced services require access to data, but I want to have control over the ways my data are used. How can I achieve that? Technology tends to constrain my behavior by guiding it toward well-understood channels. Tech companies need to detect this effect and respond in agile ways. How can we scale personalization and flexibility? Rigidity leads to catastrophic failures (not to mention loss of customers).”

A professor based in Singapore wrote, “I expect some things to be better and some things to be worse. The growth of digital surveillance could have macro-level repercussions in positive and negative ways. Digital tracking technologies will improve from this event, but how private and public organizations use those technologies for self-benefit, invasion of privacy, social control and profit accumulation as opposed to democratic benefit, better public health and safety protocols and the improvement of public-knowledge production and distribution remains to be seen. I fully expect both positive and negative outcomes.”

HOPES: “I hope for the democratization of big data. Currently, the amount of information collected from individuals through smartphone use and how it is used, of which the individual has little practical control and is most likely ignorant, is highly problematic. So far, I don’t see any real attempts by big corporate players to give over or share control of data collected from and about people with the people themselves.”

WORRIES: “Rational profit accumulation increasingly drives everyday life. Organizations will continue to seek rational methods of improving their own position vis-a-vis other ‘competitors.’ This rarely bodes well for citizens/consumers/users.”

An author, historian and professor of law at a major Silicon Valley-area university said, “The COVID crisis may accelerate some existing trends. People have become even more reliant on technology for contact with the outside world, and remote work has increased. Those developments in turn may accelerate improved technologies for things like remote meetings. Some businesses will decide to hold some events remotely when they might not have done so in the past, in order to save money. I’d be surprised to see radical change, however. I find that I like Zoom sessions, but a lot of people will be delighted to go back to doing everything in person.”

HOPES: “I see a lot of areas where AI can be helpful, from running the electricity grid more efficiently with fewer emissions to the development of new drugs. Ideally, AI could also empower people to make more-effective use of information to make better decisions. When I refer to AI, what I have in mind is more a matter of incremental improvements in machine learning than any radical breakthrough. Biotech has not yet had the kind of major impact that people have hoped for, but we may start seeing signs of greater impact in the next decade or so.”

A co-founder of a future-of-democracy project said, “A great deal depends on our society’s response to the pandemic. There is great potential for transformation of how society operates. With the convergence of the pandemic, the incredible influence and resilience of the Black Lives Matter movement and the clear need to address climate issues, the possibilities of transforming cities, for example, are very great. The experiments in New York and Milan to challenge the automobile’s dominance of those cities, if they are allowed to develop, could greatly change their landscapes. Other experiments are happening in smaller locales. With the likelihood that working from home will increase the need for everyday commutes may fall. These changes will not be foreordained by the pandemic but will depend on what citizens demand and how policymakers act.”

HOPES: “I’m very skeptical about ‘technology’ itself making life better. Certainly, the technology needed to sequence the virus, make a vaccine and improve treatments will be very important. In the communication/AI space, however, it is not clear to me that advances being made are likely to improve the quality of life for many people. Self-driving cars, for example, were a hot topic five to 10 years ago, but they have not advanced as expected, and the claim that they would reduce city congestion was always a hoax. Policy will play a much larger role in the quality of life for Americans in 2025.”

WORRIES: “The big tech companies are relentlessly oriented toward profit and we have a very weak sense of a public square in which their actual implications can be contended with.”

An expert in social media and media strategy based in Europe wrote, “Trying to understand emerging circumstances from ‘the average person’s’ perspective may obscure significant developments. The most vulnerable will have less access to third-sector aid, as their resources will have been drained fighting the pandemic. They are left with the worst deals regarding devices and connections. Those left unemployed are adjusting to dire circumstances, and their smartphones are the last thing they are willing to give up even with less means for living. The poor will struggle to access nourishing food, and parents with long working hours and/or multiple jobs can do little to support their children’s education. Many will be working as delivery people for goods and services for the well-doing population. In that case, smartphones are essential tools to make a living. For the well-off, convenience is key. Fast home delivery of products and services of any kind will be accessible to more areas as the big U.S. and China businesses expand. If a delivery business becomes automated fast, it drains an income source for the unskilled urban workforce. Mobile communication tools and easily-consumed entertainment will flourish. The educated white-collar workforce will need their distraction from work pressure. Stress and lack of sleep will erode most people’s cognitive capacity to the extent that reading longer newspaper articles, let alone books, becomes rarer still. Those individuals who are able to concentrate, reflect and contribute to society ideally find each other in virtual communities, but often find themselves disappointed by the public discourse, seemingly optimized for the restless masses.”

WORRIES: “The surveillance and performance measurements of human workforce may go too far if human rights are not emphasized in global logistics companies. I am worried about that space between automation and human labour where tedious work is done by humans in inhumane conditions. Freedom from being watched and controlled is an important factor of a meaningful, dignified existence. How the states and cities go about making decisions that promote safety while respecting privacy will be a decisive factor of how life goes on. Will states use COVID-19 tracking apps to aggregate a database of their citizen’s activities?”

A communications researcher based in Europe predicted, “After the initial shock of a pandemic people and institutions tend to return to ‘normalcy.’ Societies are very hard to change, culture only gradually changes, economics hardly changes – only over the long term. Existing problems, deficiencies and divides in societies will not disappear.”

HOPES: “Working from home will improve and – hopefully – decrease traffic congestion. Unfortunately, people noticing traffic-congestion decreases will tend to decide to use the car more often, canceling out the initial decline in traffic congestion. This will be aggravated by the restrictions and possible dangers of using public transportation in a COVID-19 era.”

WORRIES: “My worry is governmental monitoring and data collection, especially as governments team up with the big tech companies. Depending on the country, this problem will be very bad or less so. When COVID-19 apps are introduced in a privacy-protecting manner people may distrust them; this may hinder their use and create a less-safe environment in respect to spreading COVID-19.”

A senior leader for an international digital rights organization commented, “I expect much change, things will be different, but I think the most important fact about our world – the massive inequality with regard to wealth, income, opportunity and access to resources – will not much change. The 1% that owns more than the other 99% (these are generalized figures) will still own most of everything, will still be crazy-privileged. 2025 isn’t very far away. U.S. prisons and jails will likely still hold enormous numbers of men of color, and if people think that Tucker Carlson could run for president in 2024, that means a lot of people don’t understand the systemic racism that is a knee on the throat of black people. Oh, I forgot sexism (I’m male, so of course I did). Between #MeToo and the hatred aimed at Hillary, it’s obvious that we have some really serious misogyny problems. Making *this* society more fair and less racist is a marathon and not a five-year sprint. Of course, global warming (like pandemics) is part of this dynamic as well. And aside from early mentions by Democrats like Jay Inslee, this issue has been driven out of our collective consciousness by all the stupid Trump stuff. Really, Trump is the cautionary tale. I was pretty hopeful when Obama was elected. I was quite shocked when Trump beat Hillary. That frankly is the reason why I can’t be optimistic. That close to half the voters were willing to elect a person who is racist, stupid, sociopathic and narcissistic – indeed that good Christians could vote for such a person simply because they wanted pro-life judges – means that a very large portion of America does not actually understand the problems facing us. That many wealthy people support Trump means that a large portion of U.S. capital/$$ does not care about the problems facing us. Technology can’t be expected to change, in such a short time period, the key realities of society: wealth to the powerful, racism against people of color, sexism. Politics creates incentives to harness these sources of social ‘energy.’ Like the virus, these things will not fade away on their own.”

HOPES: “My life is pretty good. I’m 61 and financially very secure. So, my hopes are for people who are worse off than me, and of course for my kids, who face a very uncertain future. I hope at a grand level that we use technology to preserve our species and world against global warming. I hope that it will help us provide housing for the homeless, empty our prisons and jails, solve the future-of work-problem, feed the hungry and, of course, deliver cheap internet and education to everyone. What’s sad is that I don’t think we need advanced technology for any of these things, or at least to make a good start on addressing them. Political and social will is what we need. And maybe a wealth tax.”

WORRIES: “I worry that technology use exacerbates all the problems we have in 2020. That it props, sustains or even amplifies extant racism and sexism. And, perhaps worst, that it helps continue to destroy the ideas of facts, truth, science and logic. Of course, I don’t blame technology per se. Rush Limbaugh and Fox News did/do their damage with old technologies of radio and TV. In my opinion, Fox News has done way more to pollute what once could be called civic discourse than InfoWars, Breitbart or Daily Stormer.”

A professor of cognitive science and artificial intelligence based in New Zealand said, “We can’t know whether things will improve or get worse. We’re at a turning point. What happens in the next few months will have a big influence on the direction the world takes.”

HOPES: “My hope is that we make many changes. The main change is greater governmental and societal oversight of the big tech companies. These companies are hugely influential in determining how information flows within society, and I believe many of the trends towards authoritarianism and nationalism that we see in world politics are due to the new dynamics of information in society. These flows need to be better studied and understood, and the big companies are not good at participating in the necessary studies; they have a conflict of interest. When we have understood better how information flows within social networks and other internet networks, the big companies need to devote more resources to regulating these flows. They are already imposing censorship through recommender engines – but the current censorship is guided mainly by profit or public relations motives, rather than the social good. Democratic governments need to guide the way censorship happens, just as they impose broadcasting standards and regulations. Big tech companies are publishers of information when they circulate it broadly. I also hope for a reduction in the global inequality that has been exacerbated by the big tech companies. On the AI front: I hope the countries of the world can agree on a ban on killer robots.”

WORRIES: “My worry is that the changes I hope for do not come to pass.”

A consultant expert in technical, regulatory and business issues said, “While greater use of telepresence will be helpful for many people and potentially reduce commuting and concomitant road traffic, it may also lead to more social isolation and social division. Meeting fewer people will make it easier to exclude ‘others.’”

HOPES: “My hope is for more privacy in the tech world – it is now dominated by surveillance capitalism.”

WORRIES: “My worry is a near future with even more surveillance capitalism, with sale of personal data becoming intrusive in many aspects of life.”

A professor of international affairs and economics at Washington, DC-area university wrote, “Obviously, there are two scenarios. The first is that a solution to the COVID-19 infection crisis will be implemented and life will return more or less to what it once was – minus our family, friends and acquaintances who have died from the disease. We will have improved our facility with remote technologies, and this in turn should bring down our need to travel as much to distant venues for interacting with colleagues around the world. It might even alter the way we are ‘at work,’ allowing remote meetings to become more mainstream. This would mean fewer commutes through the busy Washington, D.C., traffic. Clearly, we would return to the usual way of delivering classes in higher education, but with a greatly enhanced technological toolkit with which to present material and interact with students. The second scenario would be one in which COVID-19 is with us, simmering beneath the surface for years to come. Clearly, we will discover additional coping mechanisms for having more personal interactions while staying safe. However, it’s clear that a majority of interactions would have to remain online or at a distance. I am presuming that in this case, new technologies will arise that will allow clearer communication from a distance and under a mask. We are currently using our telephones for this, as relatives quarantine and friends gather at a distance. There will be many more events outdoors, so there will be a greater need for public space and less need for traditional indoor gathering places. Employment security will depend on the ability to carry on providing services and products while minimizing risks. If markets worked well (which I assume they will not), the wages for people in more exposed or dangerous jobs would rise. My guess is that in this environment, there would be an incentive to invest in all sorts of protective technologies. We may discover that some workers are relatively immune to the virus and, hence, be more willing to work in jobs that expose them.”

HOPES: “Technology can close gaps between people in ways that they would never be able to do in real life, so devoting some thought to how technology creates community might yield a big payoff. Also, much of what is shared online and is held up as ‘news’ is difficult to source. A great deal of effort should be paid to technologies that allow people to verify who is responsible for a given story or where a particular product has been made.”

WORRIES: “The internet is a public good and should be treated as such. Many have made billions by exploiting this public good. It’s time for governments and other representatives of the people to claim back our rights. The existing model by which companies extract information from individuals and sell or otherwise monetize that information has shifted power from the individual to these large entities. Given how new technologies have been created and then regulated in the past, it strikes me that it’s time for countries or groups of countries to regulate what has been monopolized due to the obvious economies of scale. An unregulated net will lead to a greater concentration of power and money.”

A professor of communication at an Ivy League university said, “I suspect/hope a vaccine and remedial medicines will exist by 2025 so that severe illness and death will not be the scourge they are now. The main changes I see (probably because of my profession) relate to media and retailing: I see movie theaters having more trouble drawing audiences than before the pandemic, and I see buying online continuing its growth in popularity. Mid-level malls will have the most trouble drawing people to stores, while upscale ones will probably do well, especially with restaurants and smaller stores where people try things on and get the actual items send to their homes (a la Bonobos).”

HOPES: “I expect that self-driving automotive technologies may lessen the number of car and truck accidents. New modes of teaching and of information access may open paths to learning for some people who previously couldn’t afford it. Some in-home technologies will help people save energy.”

WORRIES: “Problems will be rampant due to surveillance and the spread of misinformation and disinformation created by governments, political campaigns and marketers exploiting new technologies. Authoritarian regimes will continue to use technologies to control and oppress people under their jurisdictions and to encourage political confusion in competitive societies. Democracies will continue to be hampered by those outside actors as well as by political campaigns that use personalization technologies to stoke societal divisions in their interests. Marketers will push personalization forward, along with the algorithmic discrimination that accompanies it by heralding bio-profiling technologies (voice, facial and more) to shoppers as worth ‘opting in’ to get the best deals that are tailored to their individual needs.”

An intelligent-systems strategist and evangelist for a major global technology company observed, “Even as things begin shifting slowly towards ‘normal’ as the first small traces of the beginning of the end to the COVID-19 crisis appear, it seems likely that some changes may endure as best practices discovered through adversity; e.g., business travel. All are familiar with the analogy of the frog in the pot – that if you (hypothetically!) throw a frog into boiling water it will jump out, whereas if you raise the heat gradually it will be cooked without realizing it. Take air travel for example. Over decades, we have collectively been that frog. With ever-smaller seats, less pitch, fewer (or no) frequent-flier miles, higher and more numerous fees and even the potential to be pulled off the plane, air travel has been slowly cooking us all. There will and should always be live gatherings around major deals, industry and academic conferences, etc., where there’s no substitute for face-to-face engagement and networking. Yet, with the proliferation of remote communications and collaboration technology over the past two months, I suggest that for business travel post-sheltering, the bar will be permanently raised for justifying the time, hassle and expense of physically ‘being there.’”

HOPES: “The most valuable functions/capabilities will be those that either: 1) Enhance existing capital infrastructure and assets such as vehicles and equipment by providing connectivity or the capacity to filter, retain and use relevant data while protecting personal privacy. 2) Replace actions now requiring in-person contact with transactions completed in the back office, via edge or cloud computing, and at the same time consolidating and connecting these functions to ensure privacy, effectiveness and security. This was of course important before COVID-19, and it has only become even more critical going forward.”

WORRIES: “As technology increasingly converges our business and personal lives it is more vital than ever to keep up boundaries where you can.”

A professor of sociology responded, “In line with rising socioeconomic inequality around the world over recent decades, I expect that future technology use will continue to improve the lives of the most privileged people in a society, especially within the most economically advanced nations, to the further detriment of others. High-income jobs are far more likely than middle- and low-income jobs to afford working-from-home options, which help to protect the health and safety of those workers in a variety of ways (e.g., limiting exposure to diseases/viruses, reducing commuting hazards and affording a potentially more comfortable and healthful working environment), as well as allowing more control over workers’ own time and even cost-savings related to reduced need for transportation, childcare and pet sitting.”

HOPES: “I hope for increased use of technology for flexibility and remote participation in social life. There are varied reasons that someone may be uncomfortable or unable to attend work and/or social events and situations; providing remote options that actually allow for full participation should become standardized in the future.”

WORRIES: “Privacy is always a concern, including the amount and kinds of data collected by technology companies, what information is shared/sold to other companies and what information is exposed to others through nefarious means. The more difficult it becomes to opt out of technology use in everyday life, the more sensitive information is put at risk. Another worry is that future technological improvements will continue to increase the various divides between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’”

A director for a foundation funded by a major global technology organization said, “Digital transformation at an accelerated pace is my main expectation for 2025. I see it happening already. I’ve also been witnessing over the last few years an increasingly pessimistic view of technology and connectivity given the issues we are having, from data leaks to online harassment to political-targeting ads. The pandemic has reversed the pessimism to an extent. We can now work online, connect with our friends and family, etc. Not everything is roses, though, and we must keep in mind the unconnected and also note that some of the preexisting issues with digital life will need dedicated effort to improve.”

HOPES: “Increased connectivity while increasing the respect for human rights online.”

WORRIES: “I worry over the big tech players’ centralization of power and their resistance to change. The recent [summer 2020] Facebook boycott is a good example of how companies and citizens are reacting. I also worry over the increase in control over communications by government with little to no respect for privacy and for other rights in light of ‘cybersecurity.’ We need to fight to get more checks and balances on this front.”

A cybersecurity engineer and speaker commented, “The United States will have more-competent but limited leadership by 2025, but I don’t see the human condition changing much in five years. Maybe the public at large will be more cynical about media and political motivations, but maybe they will also just be more [miserable].”

A dean and professor of information science at a major U.S. university said, “I’m assuming by 2025 there will be a vaccine widely available. There’ll have been some changes, e.g., more people working from home, acceptance of telemedicine, but those will impact only a subset of people (e.g., you can’t work on an assembly line from home). I think there’ll be a rebound such that things average out to be about the same for most people.”

A director and leader of a major internet ecosystem in Southern Asia observed, “Reliance on technology and adoption of it will increase as more and more services and facilities become digital. While people’s dependence on tech will rise, there will be more concerns related to privacy and security. Traditional jobs will change, and people will have to acquire new skills.”

HOPES: “Tech companies become more accountable and processes will be made more transparent. User rights will be better protected.”

WORRIES: “I worry over abuses of user rights.”

A futurist and research fellow at a major university’s futures think tank responded, “People will mix augmented reality and in-person contact in new ways.”

HOPES: “Better medical screening, more productive social media equivalents, better curated contacts.”

WORRIES: “Totalitarianism, inequality.”

A founder and CEO of a technology company based in Boston wrote, “The human will learn how to treat the disease and will adopt new behavior to learn to live with the disease. With these adoptions, the world will continue to live and advance as it would have, just with a delay caused by the COVID-19.”

HOPES: “Hopefully this experience will lead in further vaccine development and the governments will take the lead with private sector to invest in different technologies for anti-viral medical treatments.”

WORRIES: “I’m mostly worried about misuse of technology against individuals.”

A professor emeritus of communications studies observed, “Many people will be generally more cautious with social distancing, especially if someone is sick, sneezing or coughing. Use of communications technology will increase. There will be more virtual meetings. Culture plays a big role within the broader American culture, and there are generally cultural differences. Asians are likely to do more masking and be more careful. Hispanics may be likely to do less masking and be less careful because they are more social in general. Whites and Blacks fall somewhere in between.”

HOPES: “I hope for increased telemedicine.”

WORRIES: “I worry that the digital divide makes poor people less integrated into mainstream culture and information flow.”

A professor of business at a U.S. university commented, “People will become more communication-dependent and very comfortable with IT in their personal and professional lives. The world will see the emergence of new forms of and applications of digital culture. Children will be grown-ups and will not know what it is like to have no digital technology. New forms of digital language and culture will emerge.”

HOPES: “I have very high hopes as new technologies emerge globally in Africa, Asia and South America. The U.S. and Europe will not be the major players.”

WORRIES: “I have no worries at all.”

A professor of economics who is expert in employment, productivity and economic security observed, “We will get a vaccine, and life will mostly return to normal as it has in Asia after SARS. There is some chance a version of the universal basic income will pass, which would change life more by increasing economic security.”

HOPES: “My hope is for tech that enhances community engagement and friendships. Like Facebook, but good.”

WORRIES: “My worries are over surveillance and ads. Most importantly, the tech that creates physical, political and emotional distance between people is really worrying.”

A professor of government at one of the world’s leading universities said, “Within a relatively short period after the last such pandemic, the Spanish flu, things had largely reverted to normal, which speaks to the power of broad social, economic and political forces. I would expect pretty much the same this time, assuming that a successful vaccine is produced. Many individuals and businesses have and will be adversely affected, but the larger population will want to return to what existed beforehand, as is already evident in the careless behavior of many while the pandemic is still raging.”

HOPES: “AI has tremendous potential to be a positive force, but regulation and ethical standards are needed because AI also allows for government surveillance on a level heretofore unthinkable.”

WORRIES: “AI’s capacity for surveillance, which could heighten government control and diminish personal privacy.”

A professor of information technology commented, “Expect more digital, more in-home delivery of goods and services, but the extractive economy will be unchanged. There will be more interpenetration of work and life, as working from home becomes well tested.”

A researcher and consultant in the fields of economic sociology and stratification said, “The 1918 pandemic did not seem to bring much lasting change to institutions or social practices. I’d guess that in five years’ time, we’ll mostly be doing the things we did pre-pandemic: going to classrooms, eating in restaurants, hugging friends, etc.”

WORRIES: “My worry is over rampant disinformation and increasing polarization. Tech companies are not the only driver of this trend, but they are making it worse, and there seem to be no truly plausible solutions being discussed. I’m sure we’ll still be struggling with this in 2025.

A respondent based at a university in Nigeria noted, “I do not expect much change from the current situation”

HOPES: “None”

WORRIES: “Technology is stealing the time intended for family and neighborhood bonding in reality.”

A senior economic advisor expert in global telecommunications wrote, “First, I believe the outcome depends on the country. Here in Switzerland, I do not think life will be much changed (assuming a vaccine or other form of herd immunity). The U.S. is a different story, and that may ultimately impact everyone. I think that digital technologies will play a greater role, starting with the obvious that there will be more video conferences and less travel. But humans are social beings, and it will be difficult to build organizations without bringing together new and old employees, and large conferences and events are difficult without being in-person. Digital money will take off more, as will even more online commerce. All this ultimately depends upon ensuring privacy and data protection, which will take on ever more importance.”

A senior research program manager at a major U.S.-based think tank said, “I expect that online activities being used during the pandemic will stick for many. This may lead to reduced commute times. However, a lot of the economy is based on services delivered by people, and I don’t expect this to be impacted. I expect some change for the better, but not a lot.”

WORRIES: “I do not expect the U.S., in particular, to address universal broadband, thus I expect the existing urban and rural and rich and poor divides will not change and they may be exacerbated.”

A technology developer/administrator based in Europe responded, “I do not believe that the pandemic will change the longtime behavior of people. Most people will fall back into their usual habits as before. There will be some economical and financial downturn, but that should be recovered by 2025.”

HOPES: “Internet usage will be even more the usual way of daily life. Internet availability will better everywhere and for everybody.”

WORRIES: “I have no real worries about technology. My worries about companies are not restricted to technology; the same is true for financial and commerce. Huge companies tend to be too powerful and try to avoid local law and do not best serve consumer interests.”

A technology policy leader from Africa who is based in Europe said, “There will be a new reality where no boundaries between real and virtual life, work/home/social life balance. The new normal will be that everyone is expected to be available/accessible and I think people will submit to this reality because no one wants to be left behind for fear of missing out.”

HOPES: “We all need to manage our expectations and be prepared to live in the slow lane of life, not always in the fast lane.”

WORRIES: “Tech companies cannot become the regulators of the industry. This is the most controversial concept in Internet Policy and governments should definitely take the driver’s’ seat in this regard.”

A U.S. professor of sociology expert in Asian studies commented, “You are asking the wrong questions. I think the outcomes of the pandemic will depend on broader social, economic and political changes that the pandemic may lead to indirectly, but not cause. For example, if Americans see how weak our health care system and social safety net are, that might lead to positive change.”

HOPES: “I hope that the digital infrastructure will be extended in ways that give everyone in the U.S. and around the world affordable, easy access to online resources. Technology, in itself, is not an independent variable. Its effects depend on the social and economic context it is within.”

WORRIES: “The degree of power they have and their major goals of profit accumulation worry me. Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other such corporations need to be broken up and operated in the public interest.”

A vice president for research and economic development responded, “The pandemic will result in major setbacks and limits to progress in many sectors. It will take many years for the economy of many countries to recover fully and for societies to return to full functional capacity. Adjustment to the ‘new normal’ will be slow.”

HOPES: “Tech-related advances will become more invasive and integrated in all aspects of our daily lives. Unfortunately, there are several sectors of society that remain excluded from such advances. There are poor and disenfranchised groups who currently have little to no access to the internet, and kids who can only access online resources while in school. Until there’s access and equity in tech access and availability, significant sectors of society will undoubtedly be left behind.”

WORRIES: “I worry about the lack of ethical standards and technology companies’ ability to invade the lives and activities of members of society.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “The many institutions and individuals who profit from the way things are are going to fight very hard to keep things ‘normal’ and to convince the greater population that returning to normal is the only way to move forward. People also can be hesitant about change, and many will want to return to ‘normal’ when this is all over because normal is a comfortable thing. Digital technologies will continue to be driven forward, with several different models globally. In the U.S., the model is extreme capitalism with pure profit motives. In China, the model is a surveillance state. In Russia, the model is corrupt oligarchy. In the EU, the model addresses more-balanced citizen concerns. In other parts of the world, it varies.”

HOPES: “I don’t see any hopes. We need to go all-in on fighting the climate disaster and the Republicans in the U.S. are dead set against that in so many different ways. They really will kill us all.”

WORRIES: “Many of us failed to understand how the internet would allow foreign powers a direct channel into other nations. It is rather shocking. Gatekeepers in traditional media before the internet – like newspapers and TV outlets were so important. Today they’re relegated to the sidelines due to Facebook, Reddit, etc. Combine this with deepfakes and we are screwed because verifying anything is difficult, and the paranoid idiots will convince even more people to join their side. The U.S. lacks a national conversation, which it used to have in the days of fewer channels. We had Walter Cronkite, we had ‘Schoolhouse Rock.’ Now we have part of the nation glued to Fox News which is a bizarre ideological center of hatred and lies and hegemony. As in Benedict Anderson’s ‘Imagined Community,’ there is no one, single imagined U.S. anymore (there wasn’t one before, but enough people believed in the same one to make it work), there are many, and they are not commensurate and the U.S. is failing. Too many people believe the U.S. is about extreme individual freedom and guns; nations cannot survive extreme individualism (nations are, by definition, collectives).”

An anonymous respondent said, “Yes, more people will work from home. And, yes, public health will likely look different – more testing, more precautions and more uncertainty. But one of the lessons from history is how little things change, even after cataclysms.”

HOPES: “I hope for even higher-quality videoconferencing and better video production tools for individuals, and some sort of nationwide alert system for future pandemics.”

WORRIES: “The big tech companies are getting bigger – in some cases, way bigger. That doesn’t bode well for either income inequality or democracy.”

An anonymous respondent noted, “I don’t see there is a new ‘normal’ coming. What will happen, in my opinion, is that by sometime early in 2021 we will have a vaccine and then all the hubbub will be over. COVID-19 will be just another flu species (even though I know it’s not a flu) that you get a shot for (or don’t, like a large part of America) and that will be that. I think it’s obvious from looking at Sweden and other places that have ‘not’ locked down that most of this was driven by over-hype by the media and social media. In some respects, more through social media, which in theory could be an influence on the next pandemic (history tells us there will be more).”

HOPES: “Tech has mostly made life better for humans, but not always. One hopes that advancements in AI and other tech will make it so we have self-driving cars and folks in their late stages of life will now no longer be cut off when they can no longer drive. My dad is 93 and just got to this stage and it is hard for him, of course. I look forward to being able to not hit this problem when I turn 93. :)”

WORRIES: “Well one big concern is the future loss of jobs. Assuming we have AI that can drive trucks, where do all the drivers go? A significant portion of workers will become unemployed. For a while there will be a driver and AI, but eventually (probably way beyond 2025) there won’t need to be. We need to make sure these types of folks are retrained. In many ways the free market (if there is one) will help encourage people to move on to develop new skills, just as buggy whip or saddle makers did, but it still is something to be concerned about.”

An anonymous respondent said, “There are certainly negative results as well as positive impacts from COVID-19, but I see these balancing over time as long as more-valid information becomes known and available about the spread and control of the virus.”

HOPES: “My hope is to see an increase in the possibility for more people being able to accomplish more things independent of their physical location.”

WORRIES: “We must be concerned with the activities of autocratic governments that are making use of technologies in ways that endanger individual freedom and privacy. I see this as a much larger concern than technology itself or technology companies.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “2025 will bring more remote learning across colleges and schools or other models that provide choices. Social skills will need to be taught. People will be wearing masks and carrying hand sanitizer or some other form of protecting themselves. More people may be out of work, and there will be a clear divide between upper and lower classes. The middle class will be gone.”

An anonymous respondent based in Scandinavia said, “The toolbox has been adjusted slightly in the direction of education for some of the more technologically reluctant, but I believe the difference between today and 2025 will be minimal. There are issues with only working from home or only working from an office that were already being explored before the COVID-19 challenge.”

HOPES: “While I am enthusiastic about using technology in many forms, there is little I find promising for the greater good. I do like some of the augmented reality uses for repair and experiments with the use of drones for monitoring issues, like monitoring heart pipes with infrared to spot heat leaks. Also, there is likely to be increased use of automated long-distance, long-run, automated machines, for instance solar-powered machines that clean up ocean garbage or similar tools of common value.”

WORRIES: “I am most worried about cases of black-box algorithms being used to decide issues where a human assessment should be required. Limited and biased datasets and unconscious design biases are a challenge, especially considering that it is not always clear what the level of influence is on man-made decisions.”

The executive director of an advocacy group based in the U.S. wrote, “The only hope for change is political – defeating Trump and then ushering in a progressive program that could change things. I believe Trump will be defeated because of COVID-19, but the powerful money in the country will prevent much progressive change, just as they have in the past.

HOPES: “I hope to see better control of social media – making it a public utility that will then be regulated to get rid of the hate speech, etc.”

WORRIES: “I have no worries unless the political aspects of social media are not regulated and continue to play havoc, creating divisions in this country.”

An executive with a North American media group wrote, “Tech will be more important but beyond that, I can only say I believe 2025 will be different. Different people prioritize different issues. Privacy isn’t important to me – I am not a criminal or a privacy freak. But identity theft is a big deal. So, I’m just not sure what’s next.”

HOPES: “I hope for more virtual health care. It should cut costs, overhead, etc. I hope more services will be available. Higher priority should be given to developing online security so we can do more things online (banking, voting, real estate actions, etc.). I also hope that making internet available to all is a priority. We cannot live in a world where only the people who can afford it have internet and devices. Especially in need of such services are rural people and seniors.”

WORRIES: “The only thing that worries me in the long run is that the internet is not policed or regulated, and regulation has to be part of the next new normal. There is too much stuff going on online for it to be a wild, wild, West with no regulations across the board internationally.”

A board member of the Internet Systems Consortium and longtime IETF leader commented, “I don’t expect the changes that we see will last long-term. Having worked from home since 1994, I don’t see a good reason that more people can’t work from home, and if that is part of the new normal, to my mind, it’s a good thing. Many jobs can’t be done from home, and I expect they will continue to be where they are.”

An expert in epidemiology and biostatistics said, “There will definitely be parts of our lives that will be enhanced and not enhanced by the current pandemic, but on balance, that things will be about the same. There is just too much uncertainty at this point.”

HOPES: “I hope for more data privacy and user control over how data is being stored and used with and without people’s knowledge.”

WORRIES: “I am concerned over the further commoditization of data for political and economic gain, especially that which causes the further detriment of health and creates economic and other disparities.”

A professor of information science and human-centered computing said, “I don’t think people will care about the pandemic by 2025. I base this on the limited changes post-9/11. The lasting change from 9/11 was TSA procedures, but few other impacts.”

HOPES: “Some people were introduced to teleconferencing. Perhaps more people will be able to conduct activities with this technology.”

WORRIES: “We are very dependent on communications such as access to the internet.”

A longtime internet security architect and engineering professor responded, [this person did not respond to first two of the three questions]

WORRIES: “Too much delivery of misleading and biased information – especially from hate groups, racists, and (probably) foreign-funded influencers. Privacy continues to erode in the commercial space, presenting a very tempting target for governments to demand access. Too much work in AI without thinking through the ethics and impacts, especially in weapons systems, legal systems and other areas with potentially big impact on human life. I lump facial recognition in here, in particular.”

An anonymous respondent said, HOPES: “That public and civic technology predominates over corporate and private technology, and the neoliberal ideology is expunged from the internet.”

WORRIES: “That public and civic goals will not be put first and current trends towards greater ‘surveillance capitalism’ and state surveillance will continue.”

The following respondents did not select any of the three possible choices as to the likely future of digital life in 2025 in the wake of the global pandemic

The director of a group exploring the future of lifelong learning commented, “I suspect that online education, particularly for higher education, will increase, with some potential benefits for broadening access. However, I’m also concerned that the quality of remote education will not improve substantially or produce the same learning outcomes as in-class instruction. It is likely that many companies may support remote work, as some tech companies are already starting to do, but it’s possible this will lead to reduced benefits and job security for many people – office jobs translated into remote working positions may be treated more like freelance or contracting positions. Existing and emerging remote-collaboration technologies, particularly immersive technologies like VR and AR, offer some opportunities here, but there remain substantial technical problems to be solved for these domains. While it’s likely that remote learners and workers will rely on some form of AR in the future, many fundamental technical challenges will still exist, and video conferencing will likely still be dominant. It will also be interesting to see how long-term efforts for social justice and equity will impact the development and use of contentious technologies like facial recognition, algorithmic risk assessment and audio and video synthesis. While there will be short-term pushback on some of these technologies, I’m pessimistic about the likelihood that companies and academics who work in these areas will reduce efforts in these areas in the future. Facial recognition and other data-driven, machine-learning-based algorithms for categorizing and evaluating people will, unfortunately, be a large part of our society in the future.”

A longtime leader in internet engineering said, “Things are going to be different from how they are now, but will they be better or worse? Some aspects will be better. I doubt we will see again in our lifetimes people jumping on planes for professional purposes, the way they did previously. That’s good for the environment and for families. It may also have other benefits in terms of congested regions where working from home will become a bit more of the norm, and so people will move to other locales. On the other hand, we must not kid ourselves. Our children are suffering the effects of this pandemic in terms of having to ‘distance learn,’ which is not natural, and all of us are not able to socialize as humans are meant to do. No FaceTime or Zoom or WebEx can substitute for a hug.”

An expert in political science observed, “Some changes will be good for some but not good for others. There is class, race and gender intersectionality that helps us understand whose life might be improved versus those whose will not. For example, public education might be drastically changed, and those changes could be of benefit for wealthier (and white) families but detrimental for those without the same degree of wealth or access to education choices beyond public schools. Same with caring for family; women are more likely to bear the burden of childcare and domestic responsibilities. Age will also make a difference in outcomes. Economic stability, employment and retirement funds will be harder to find for younger generations who have incurred more debt and less economic wealth accumulation than older generations. Technology will be much more a part of our life than it is already. During the past five months or so, people across the spectrum have used technology in ways that were not as typical pre-pandemic. In particular, faculty/teachers and students were all forced online, and this might dramatically change the way we educate and the reliance on technology in different ways for teaching/learning.”

HOPES: “My hope is that access to technology is democratic so that poorer communities or individuals have access to common technologies so that they are not left out and behind.”

WORRIES: “I worry over the collection and abuse of personal data and privacy.”

The head of a major pan-European media organization commented, “Until the end of the 20th century, Western democracies were convinced that there could be no real economic development without democratic regimes. The collapse of Communist regimes, somewhat provoked by the arrival of networked personal computers, created the illusion that ideologies were dead and that development and democracy are a permanent and unavoidable couple. Then the economic rise of China came to prove that this axiom was not necessarily true, it proved that state capitalism can prosper without democracy provided that citizens are able to share in the wealth, finding consumer goods and the cultivation of well-being to be more accessible to all. The internet and digitalization could provide a surrogate for democracy while at the same time allowing undemocratic states to exercise mass control via the new internet tools. We understand that Amazon or Alibaba services are not democratic per se and can be used for the bad or for the good, depending on the ethical principles on which they are built and depending on whether democratic control (if any) is exercised on them or not.”

The co-director of a center for the study of war and peace wrote, “I disagree with any effort to oversimplify what will be ‘good’ or ‘better’ or ‘bad’ or ‘worse’ as we adjust to a post-COVID-19 world. I am fairly certain that we will live through big changes, but these will likely be disruptions, some major and some minor. I do not think that there is someone who can be reasonably called ‘the average person’ for this sort of analysis. Rather, we will see how some practices – such as perceptions of online education or the idea that work requires big offices – will change radically in ways that are both ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ but not necessarily leading to an industry collapse. On the other hand, many thousands of businesses will never recover (restaurants, small shops, etc.), and this will produce massive economic dislocation as well as great suffering for those who have invested so much of their lives in small, family-owned enterprises. Many big companies will survive, and many smaller ones will fail. We will continue to witness major changes in all of the areas you outline in the question: security, privacy, employment, economic security, etc.”

HOPES: “Tech will clearly improve all sorts of information sharing, even as it will continue to create new risks and shifting understandings of what life is all about. Many aspects of online servicing increase efficiency and access. I run an online master’s degree program, and we can teach people who work full-time, raise families and live anywhere in the world. Almost none of these students could set aside their lives, move to Arizona and study full-time. In medicine, we will see/are seeing some similar benefits. For many types of routine care, taking half the day to see a physician or nurse provides no positive benefits. And, in far deeper ways, it would be wonderful if this crisis would yield a more expansive U.S. safety net, greater respect and protections for lower-wage workers and greater trust in a more robust and effective government.”

WORRIES: “We need a new language and new rules/ideas for managing tech and tech companies.”

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