Frivolous speculation about the long-term effects of coronavirus

post by skybrian · 2020-03-15T19:12:39.444Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW · 8 comments

This is just for fun as a diversion from more serious news and thinking. I would be interested in hearing what people on LessWrong have to say about cultural / economic changes. Let's assume we (well, the survivors) get through this but it takes long enough to result in cultural changes, and extrapolate in a science fiction sort of way. What would be some changes that persist after it's over? I think there could be lots of interesting side effects.

A trivial one might be that mask usage becomes more popular outside Asia. I'm a bit surprised people aren't making their own masks already. Mask fashion? (Update: this happened.) Veils? More use of gloves?

Increased comfort and skill with video chat. More working from home, more online education, video doctor's appointments become routine. (Of course this was already well under way.) Even more e-sports. More tiny desk concerts?

A resurgence of car culture? There's nothing like a car for enforcing social distance even in traffic. More drive-ins at restaurants, and also more comfort and use of curbside pickup. Contactless payment becomes routine. Maybe people will want their own driverless cars just for sanitary reasons? One downside: maybe less use of public transportation because crowds are scary, although getting into mask fashion might be more practical.

More delivery of course.

Probably less emphasis on recycling and more on safety and cleanliness, and safe disposal.

Prepping could go mainstream. Hopefully we won't be too silly about it. In urban areas, maybe you'd buy an option on a disaster kit so you don't need to store it locally or worry about refreshing it. Also, tracking the location of supplies you have an option on, so you know they are actually there and can be delivered in a day.

Outdoor and home exercise become more popular.

Increased use of copper in architecture for buttons, doorknobs, railings, etc? At least in richer areas. Copper keycaps? Copper mice? Though, when placed next to electronics, you'd want to make sure it's well-grounded.

Vote by mail everywhere.

Any other ideas?


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comment by romeostevensit · 2020-03-16T03:25:29.870Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like the idea of prepping as a service. You pay us to stay up to date on risk thresholds + research the ideal kit of necessary supplies for likely types of disasters. When the risk threshold triggers we deliver a kit to your house along with instructions. The risk threshold is low enough that this happens 'too early' by most people's standards, so you wind up crying wolf. But that's okay, it just means you accrue your own extra stock of some supplies.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2020-03-15T20:58:49.035Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was mentioned elsewhere before, but it fits the pattern: Children who routinely wash their hands like a surgeon.
My son suggested that Amazon will be speeding up their delivery by drone program.
Seen on twitter: Divorce and childbirth rates go up.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2020-03-16T14:38:47.519Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Cash and PIN pads go away. Contactless every time, without even having to wave a card at a scanner.

comment by James_Miller · 2020-03-15T23:41:41.047Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Lower prices of land in expensive cities. Lots of high income workers are going to experiment with working from home. Some will find it at least as productive as working in an office building. These workers, especially if they have a family, will seriously consider leaving expensive cities.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2020-03-19T15:22:03.286Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The saying "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" comes to be applied to supply chain workers, who gain higher status, though not necessarily higher pay.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2020-03-16T14:35:23.995Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Physical proximity comes to be seen as gross, as on Solaria, a planet and culture appearing in some of Isaac Asimov's novels.

The planet has a rigidly controlled population, and robots outnumber humans twenty-thousand to one. People are strictly taught from birth to despise personal contact. They live on huge estates, either alone or with their spouse only. Communication is done via holographic telepresence (viewing, as opposed to seeing)

As William Gibson observed, the future arrives unevenly distributed, and such a lifestyle will first be available to wealthier people. Proximity will acquire an association with the lower orders.

comment by skybrian · 2020-03-16T23:48:41.490Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I don't see it changing that drastically; more likely it will be a lot of smaller and yet significant changes that make old movies look dated. Something like how the airports changed after 9/11, or more trivially, that time when all the men in America stopped wearing hats.

comment by dvasya · 2020-03-16T03:31:19.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fewer waiting lines?