UK Prime Minister Johnson ululates ‘return to normality’ as pubs in England reopen post lockdown, however things are not returning to pre-2020 normalcy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is only going to further accelerate the process of fundamental change to the way we live.
Cover Photo: Soho Frith Street, 04 July 2020 Post-Lockdown | Daily Mirror
Pubs and Restaurants Reopen
Yesterday, 4th July 2020 pubs in England could reopen after almost 4-months of Covid-19 lockdown. There was excitement in some quarters, yet within the industry there is some trepidation, with many smaller operators delaying opening for a few weeks to watch what happens. Viewing Twitter, it was a mixed bag, some places very busy, others empty. Great Yarmouth at 7.00pm was pretty quiet with seats to be had in all pubs and bars that were open.
Fourth Portal is opening in a traditional English pub so is subject to the same rules and regulations as all licensed premises. The plan opening is for the middle of July 2020 and then only on reduced hours. My barometer has been to watch Texas and Florida in the US, where there was a gun-ho approach fuelled by rising populism that saw pubs and bars open within a few weeks of initial lockdown. Now Texas hospitals are on alert for a patient ‘tsunami’ as cases rocket upwards.
See Sky News report Friday 3 July 2020 23:38, UK (click)
Race to Normalcy
Commentators early on in the pandemic were already predicting politicians, big business, and many institutions would attempt to return things to normal – however unlikely! Screenwriter Julio Vincent Gambuto predicted an onslaught of marketing to return a sense of normalcy ;
Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. (That never happened. What are you talking about?) Billions of dollars will be spent on advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms: a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.Julio Vincent Gambuto
Allowing pubs and cafes to open is the UK government’s attempt at returning to that ‘normalcy’ and encouraging silly hashtags like #supersaturday to build expectation, as if it is a big international football tournament.
The World was on the cusp of dramatic change even before the Covid-19 pandemic as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) began to emerge, in essence the virus has just hastened that change. Zoom meetings, online shopping, in-store shopping apps, sharing technologies have all boomed during the pandemic. Even grandma learned pretty quickly how to use Apple FaceTime once she became cut off from visitors. The health sector, from care homes to Intensive Care Units (ICU) has had to embrace advanced technologies at speed to cope. Technologies that were predicted to take a good number of years to become everyday, have literally been adopted overnight, with the adopter curve virtually losing all meaning.
There are many benefits to this sudden shift, however there could be significant downsides in the short-to-medium term as the economy struggles to readjust and adapt, as my post on AI Supermarkets (Dec19) discusses;
“How much are the authorities and government preparing for the potential tsunami of job losses that may incur because of this technology and changing consumer behaviour? What new skills do people need to learn to still be economically active in the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)?”AI Supermarkets, Haphazard.Business, 18 Dec 2019
The AI Supermarkets blog post surmises a 3-to-5 year timeline for governments to build training programmes and prepare. Now with Coronavirus still raging that timeline will be concertinaed into 6-to-12 months!
Much of the horrific slaughter of the early battles in World War One (WWI) came about because ageing generals applied Napoleonic War tactics in a time of mechanical technological change. Almost incredulous to a modern observer, when looking through the lens of hindsight, men on horses were sent to cavalry charge tanks and machine guns. There is reasonable evidence already available that when historians look back at the Covid-19 outbreak it will be noted that it was not that the technology to limit the devastating impact did not exist; it was an old mindset, incapable of adapting strategy and using new tools available that led to such devastation of lives and livelihoods.
The UK Track and Trace system is a shambles and does not work. Tens of thousands of people have been employed to use pencil and paper to phone people when many other more efficient methods could be implemented and to great effect. The whole concept is a car-crash of old and new cultural thinking about security, data, privacy and greater societal good. Meanwhile large technology firms have had a boom period, with a large proportion of the global population forced to stay at home with nothing but the internet and phone to communicate with the outside world.
Big Tech’s billionaire class will have more power after the crisis than they had before, argues Sally Hubbard of the Open Market Institute. Brick-and-mortar retail is hemorrhaging jobs at a time when Amazon is adding hundreds of thousands of their own. Google is gaining even more of a foothold in the home as educators across the country deploy Google Classroom to teach students remotely — whether you want your family to use it or not.Vox| Recode
With populism ravaging the Western democracies and authoritarian regimes cracking down hard on dissent, it is difficult to predict how the power of these giant private enterprises will be curbed. Regardless how disinterested an individual may be towards these issues will not indemnify that person from being buffeted by the consequences. A key objective of the Fourth Portal, and these Haphazard blog posts, is to raise the awareness of these competing forces and assist people in negotiating the rapid changes we are all undergoing.
Once/if a vaccine is secured, or enough people are immune to this strand of Coronavirus, the planes will begin flying again to a schedule and the pandemic will seem like a vivid abstract distraction, distant and almost unbelievable. Of course, this will only be for those unaffected or uninvolved. For those who lived through it on the frontline, whether in health, care home, bus driving and many other risky roles, and for the survivors and those who have lost loved-ones, the pain, and maybe terror, will live on, possibly indefinitely. For the rest, the world will have changed dramatically and the years ahead will continue to change dramatically as technology and new systems infiltrate every single aspect of daily life.
Julio Vincent Gambuto, 10 April 2019 · 9 min read, Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting* | You are not crazy, my friends, Forge. Online 13April2020 https://forge.medium.com/prepare-for-the-ultimate-gaslighting-6a8ce3f0a0e0
Theodore Schleifer@teddyschleifer ( Apr 7, 2020, 6:00pm EDT), These are the trade-offs we make when we depend on billionaires to save us | Now more than ever, the coronavirus crisis has Americans living in tech billionaires’ world. Vox. Online 14April2020. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/4/7/21203179/coronavirus-billionaires-philanthropy-bill-gates-larry-ellison-mark-zuckerberg-jack-dorsey