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The New Normal: How Coronavirus will change the next five years

In just a few months, billions of lives have been transformed. We’re now rethinking many facets of our daily lives, from work to travel to groceries. Some of those changes are temporary; others may prove lasting. So we asked experts: What’s one way life will be different in five years because of coronavirus? Their answers anticipate a world in which we’ll have to adapt as we feel out a new normal. —Alexandra Ossola, special projects editor

  • academia

    • Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

      Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

      Professor of public policy at the Price School, University of Southern California

      I hope and I believe that in five years, we will focus more on human relationships not stuff, the importance of all human beings and their rights, and the ways in which we can be a better society working together despite our differences.

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    • Hany Farid

      Hany Farid

      Professor, electrical engineering & computer science and the school of Information, University of California, Berkeley

      In five years, I expect us to have long since reached the boiling point that leads to reining in an almost entirely unregulated technology sector to contend with how technology has been weaponized against individuals, society, and democracy.

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    • Adam Grant

      Adam Grant

      Professor, organizational psychology, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

      My bet is that movie theaters won’t exist.

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    • Mauro Guillén

      Mauro Guillén

      Professor, Wharton School; Author, 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything

      The shift towards remote work can potentially help better-educated senior citizens the most, enabling them to perform many jobs from the comfort of their homes or to participate in the so-called gig economy.

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    • Amba Kak

      Amba Kak

      Director (Global Programs), AI Now Institute, New York University

      The pandemic will demonstrate that digital tools should not be the default response to social crises.

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    • Bruce Schneier

      Bruce Schneier

      Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

      If we want to be secure against these crises and more, we need to add inefficiency back into our systems.

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    • Sarait Martinez & Seth Holmes

      Sarait Martinez & Seth Holmes

      Indigenous Zapotec organizer in California and Chair of the Board of the Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities (CBDIO); associate professor of medical anthropology and public health, University of California Berkeley

      Society will learn to treat farmworkers with gratitude and dignity.

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  • Art & Design

    • Nabila Alibhai

      Nabila Alibhai

      Founder, inCOMMONS

      Art and creativity will also help us redefine ourselves in the context of a new reality.

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    • Benjamin Bratton

      Benjamin Bratton

      Professor of Visual Arts at University of California, San Diego

      The hour-by-hour quantification of the status of bodily fluids—heretofore the purview of diabetics and hypochondriacs—will be standard preoccupations of everyday life.

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    • Joshua Citarella

      Joshua Citarella


      Gen Z’s identity formation is a series of taking positions on a crisis with explicit political consequences.

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    • Hilary Cottam

      Hilary Cottam

      Author, Radical Help: How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us & Revolutionise the Welfare State

      In a time of loss and deep suffering, new forms of spontaneous social infrastructure have emerged.

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    • Keller Easterling

      Keller Easterling

      Director, Master of Environmental Design program, Yale University

      Covid-19 is an X-ray of whiteness, inequality, and ineffectual government as well as a rehearsal for climate catastrophe.

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    • Addie Wagenknecht

      Addie Wagenknecht


      There’s nothing profound in telling the truth, and we cannot afford to lose this time that we are capturing right now.

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    • Forest Young

      Forest Young

      Global Principal and Head of Design, Wolff Olins, North America

      As the survivalist mentality wanes and job security becomes more relaxed, an occupational gratitude will give way to a meditation on that work which was worth dying for.

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  • Business

    • Melissa Gregg

      Melissa Gregg

      Chief technologist, User Experience and Sustainability for Client Computing, Intel

      In five years, many of us will still be working from office settings, but we will do so less often, with trepidation.

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    • Anthea Kelsick

      Anthea Kelsick

      Co-CEO, B Lab US and Canada

      This is the time to build a new social contract between business and society, and to rebuild the economy in a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative way.

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    • Jill Krimmel

      Jill Krimmel

      Interim president, Stubhub

      In a post-coronavirus world, virtual events and livestreaming will democratize live events, allowing for more people in more places to tune in to types of events that were previously unavailable to them.

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    • Yannick Lefang

      Yannick Lefang

      Founder, KASI

      Digital will play a larger role in the way Africans live in five years because of coronavirus.

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    • David McCourt

      David McCourt

      Founder and CEO, Granahan McCourt Capital; author, Total Rethink

      It can no longer be accepted that location determines your right to reliable, high-speed connectivity, which today is a vital utility.

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    • Narayana Murthy

      Narayana Murthy

      Founder, Infosys Limited

      I hope the world accepts, adopts, and practices the safe, elegant and 4,000-year old Indian form of greeting—namaste (folding both the hands)—rather than touching elbows, which looks a little bit combative!

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    • Steve Nygren

      Steve Nygren

      Founder and CEO, Serenbe

      Be prepared to see entirely new planned communities pop up that are built with the intention of balancing the demand for open space with the need for urban amenities.

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    • Sheryl Palmer

      Sheryl Palmer

      CEO and chair, Taylor Morrison Home Corporation

      ‘Healthy homes’ will become increasingly prevalent as we are more aware of the way diseases are transmitted.

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    • Steve Presley

      Steve Presley

      Chairman and CEO, Nestlé USA

      I think the increase in people eating at home will be one of the behaviors that sticks with us.

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    • Minouche Shafik

      Minouche Shafik

      Director, London School of Economics

      I see three connected trends accelerated by the global coronavirus crisis—localization, digitalization, and socialization of risks.

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    • Emmalyn Shaw

      Emmalyn Shaw

      Managing partner, Flourish Ventures

      We’re seeing consumers move away from incumbent financial institutions in favor of challenger players that offer a faster pace of innovation, superior customer experience, and better affordability of service—particularly as we move toward a “no touch” economy.

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    • Brooks Tingle

      Brooks Tingle

      CEO & President, John Hancock Insurance

      As a result of the pandemic, I think life insurance will become dramatically easier to buy.

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    • Sola Yomi-Ajayi

      Sola Yomi-Ajayi

      CEO, United Bank for Africa, America

      In five years’ time, our lives will be dominated by technology. The future is technology.

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  • food

    • Soren Bjorn

      Soren Bjorn

      President, Driscoll's

      One of the things that we very clearly believe has changed once and for all is online grocery shopping.

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    • Jennifer Hill Booker

      Jennifer Hill Booker


      My mission in a post-Covid world is to have my extended family not so extended.

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    • David Lee

      David Lee

      CFO, Impossible Foods

      The age-old technology of using animals for meat will continue to be replaced by more capable, efficient, and safer technologies like plant-based meat.

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  • Government & nonprofit

    • Anousheh Ansari

      Anousheh Ansari


      Meetings, doctor visits, even regular phone calls will benefit from massive advancements in VR/AR technologies.

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    • Kathy Baughman McLeod

      Kathy Baughman McLeod

      Director, Adrienne Arsht–Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center

      While there is consensus that the coronavirus crisis has increased awareness of the many connections between climate and health, I predict that in five years, it will have set us back in tackling one of the major public health emergencies of our time: extreme heat.

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    • Ian Bremmer

      Ian Bremmer

      President, Eurasia Group

      One thing we can bet on is much more inequality… and coronavirus will play a significant part in that.

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    • William Frey

      William Frey

      Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution

      The political clout these generations will generate should lead to more focused attention on racial justice and calls for greater government intervention toward reducing racial inequalities of all types.

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    • John Goodwin

      John Goodwin

      CEO, the LEGO Foundation

      This catalytic moment offers us a unique opportunity to reimagine how students learn and, in turn, adjust our education systems and models for the future.

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    • Zia Khan

      Zia Khan

      Senior vice president of innovation, The Rockefeller Foundation

      Over the next five years, citizens will demand that the government set the goals for AI’s impact on society, but policymakers and technology companies will recognize that governments’ regulatory toolkit is ill-suited to the speed of AI development and the exponential growth of its applications in society.

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    • Ai-jen Poo

      Ai-jen Poo

      Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

      The pandemic (hopefully) has given us urgency to value and protect low-wage work in America in a whole new way.

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    • Margrethe Vestager

      Margrethe Vestager

      Executive vice president, European Commission

      People will have realized that they can work remotely, that they don’t have to commute at least one or two days per week. The digital tools we will have to enable that will improve immensely, and I think we will enjoy it.

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  • Health & Science

    • Satchit Balsari

      Satchit Balsari

      Assistant professor, Global Health and Population, Harvard Chan School of Public Health

      The isolation and extreme hardship that has resulted from… the collective mismanagement of the virus will also result in a reckoning in which millions more will recognize the direct linkages between political participation—or the lack thereof—and its consequences.

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    • Robin Berzin

      Robin Berzin

      Founder, Parsley Health

      In five years, I believe we’ll see a world where we’re both moving faster and more thoughtfully in the field of medicine.

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    • Esther Choo

      Esther Choo

      Associate Professor, Center for Policy & Research in Emergency Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University

      The next five years need to be a time of drastic reengineering of our systems and structures to eliminate health disparities and know that in crisis we have the ability to ensure that resources and care are allocated equitably.

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    • Bill Nye

      Bill Nye

      Science educator and television personality

      With the development of a vaccine in the next five years, enough people will be immune to the Covid-19 virus that people will largely have put this pandemic behind them.

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    • Kate Ryder

      Kate Ryder

      Founder and CEO, Maven Clinic

      Telemedicine will be fundamental to how healthcare is delivered, and it may look different than the telemedicine model we’re familiar with today.

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  • media

    • Yolanda Edwards

      Yolanda Edwards

      Founder, Yolo Journal

      The way in which we travel, and think about traveling, has changed, and I’m sure this will be long-term.

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    • Ben Ehrenreich

      Ben Ehrenreich

      Journalist and author of Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time

      In just its first few weeks, the pandemic—and even the wealthiest governments’ failure to respond to it—made all the fault lines, injustices, and inequalities that define our societies impossible to ignore.

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    • Cindy Gallop

      Cindy Gallop

      Founder and CEO, MakeLoveNotPorn

      We are going to bring our values to bear on who deserves to be enriched, because of how much they have enriched us all through their work and their care when nothing else mattered.

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    • Bill McKibben

      Bill McKibben

      Author, educator, and activist

      I think the world’s major cities will be far more bikeable—and as a result there will be lots more people biking.

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    • P.W. Singer

      P.W. Singer

      Author of Burn-In: A Novel of the REAL Robotic Revolution

      The forces of AI and automation will be drastically sped up by the response to the pandemic.

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  • tech

    • Tim Berners-Lee

      Tim Berners-Lee

      Founder, World Wide Web; founding director, World Wide Web Foundation; CTO, Inrupt

      Thinking about my life—be it day-to-day family life, my work, my music, my play, my volunteering with organizations—it’s all, in fact, data. It is data I control. It all connects together.

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    • Amanda Bradford

      Amanda Bradford

      Co-founder and CEO, The League

      In five years, people will prefer to meet online first before meeting in person.

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    • Karen Chupka

      Karen Chupka

      EVP, CES

      One of the things all this experimentation has led to is that people will be willing to try new things.

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    • Harley Finkelstein

      Harley Finkelstein

      Chief operating officer, Shopify

      In many ways, social distancing and stay-at-home orders have leveled the playing field for business owners.

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    • Jason Fried

      Jason Fried

      Co-founder and CEO, Basecamp

      I think we’ll settle back into our patterns.

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    • Tricia Wang

      Tricia Wang

      Co-founder, Sudden Compass

      We will no longer rely on governments or markets alone to take care of us. Instead we will rely on ground-up, hyperlocal neighborhood networks to get stuff done in times of crisis.

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