As of the end of July 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc to humanity with more than 15 million confirmed cases and 630,000 deaths.
Although there has been much speculation about the genesis of the new coronavirus, it is generally accepted that the first major outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic occurred in the city of Wuhan located in central China in December 2019.
Notwithstanding humanity’s scientific and medical advancements, the new coronavirus continues to baffle medical experts with its mysterious nature in particular its varying effects on different people whereby some develop little or no symptoms whereas others become critically ill to the point of being in need of ventilator life support systems.
In ancient Greek philosophy, Aristotle espoused his teleological view of nature whereby he puts forth his supposition that organisms develop in the way which they do because they have a natural goal i.e. an end or a function.
In terms of understanding the phenomenon around us, Aristotle posits that it is imperative for us to seek to discover the sake for which the phenomenon in question existed.
Through having a functional understanding of the phenomenon around us, we would be able to identify our natural goal which in turns enables us to strive towards the goal.
From the outset, the evolution of humans has always been geared towards ensuring our survival. It is perhaps a tad ironic that even with humanity’s immense technological progress we find ourselves incapacitated by an invisible enemy which is threatening our very existence.
Moving forwards, perhaps it is apt that technological progress is charted in the direction of human experience (HX) because to experience we first have to exist and it is in this regard that we shall explore the use of digital technology to take the fight against the new coronavirus to the next level.
When it comes to digital technology, HX refers to the experience a person has when using such technologies. Up to this point in its development, digital technologies such as big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have been largely impersonal in nature as they have focused on objects around humans as their subjects.
If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic, it may lie in the heralding of a new era of HX in the development of digital technology whereby humans themselves are the focal point of these technologies and there is no better epitome of this notion than the use of such technologies in humanity’s battle against the new coronavirus.
From a technological perspective, the transition to the HX era is aptly illustrated by the use of digital technologies in the search for a vaccine for the new coronavirus.
As the search for a vaccine would involve dealing with a vast amount of data, the use of cloud computing would be ideal to support the establishment of a central data repository for medical researchers from around the world to contribute their data to the repository.
In order to make sense of such a huge volume of data, big data solutions can be leveraged to extract the relevant information from the data. In tandem with the use of big data solutions, AI-based simulations can be deployed to analyze the extracted information to come up with possible hypotheses which serve as starting points for medical researches to carry out hands-on experiments followed by clinical trials.
As for blockchain, it would serve as the string which ties the whole process together by warranting the veracity of the data input and ensuring the integrity of the overall framework. In short, the Covid-19 pandemic may be the tipping point for the development of a blockchain-based Internet of Things (IoT) architecture thereby paving the way for the use of digital technologies for the betterment of humanity by driving it towards its teleological goal.
An alternative to undertaking the mammoth task of developing a vaccine and inoculating the global population is for those who have a genetic predisposition to being vulnerable to the new coronavirus to literally hack their bodies by altering the relevant genes.
In this regard, scientific hypothesis which has been circulating around the medical field is that the answer to the baffling question with regard to our different biological responses to the new coronavirus may lie in our genetic makeup.
Accordingly, the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be a major push factor in accelerating the neo-biological revolution which in the context of the pandemic refers to the re-engineering of our genome sequencing through genetic editing in order to arm ourselves with immunity against the new coronavirus.
As a matter of fact, existing research has already embarked on this path whereby machine learning is used to identify those who are vulnerable and which genes to alter.
From time immemorial, mankind has always been subjected to a host of existential vicissitudes which bring with them their respective perils of life. To put it simply, our destiny is never in our hands because there is always an unknown factor in humanity’s existential equation.
In the absence of omniscience which may elude us for eternity, digital technology is our best bet if we are to attain Aristotle’s teleological philosophy of fulfilling our natural goal.
Ideals aside, we would do well to leverage on digital technology in embracing the new normal post-Covid-19 because as Charles Darwin puts it, “the one that survives is that which is best able to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself”.
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Combining his professional experience as a corporate legal practitioner with his knowledge of blockchain, Ming Sen finds it fascinating to explore the endless possibilities of blockchain particularly in the regulatory domains of the financial services and capital markets sectors.
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