As countries begin relaxing lockdown and opening up the economy for business, many are skeptical about the virus spreading once again. To keep employees safe, many organizations have advised their people to continue to work from home. Microsoft President Brad Smith notes that we could be walking into a digital 9/11 kind of situation soon.
In a virtual discussion hosted by MIT‘s ‘Hot Topics in Computing’ series, founded by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Smith talked about many things including climate change, Covid-19, and the work of the future. “There are a lot of benefits to working from home,” he said, “but it certainly also adds a level of unpredictability.”
The discussion, centered on data and COVID-19, also expanded to Bluetooth-based contact tracing. But he’s skeptical noting that people may not want to walk around with an app on their phone. Contacting should be recognized as a tool, not a panacea, he said.
Furthermore, the talk went on about the ‘digital 9/11’, pertaining to the electric grid and the future presidential elections. Considering how a large part of the workforce would continue working from home, it would bring in a lot of security and privacy factors to play, which could further lead to a digital 9/11-like situation.
Microsoft’s Future Prospects
Smith further talked about big data and its importance with computer scientists and technologists. He pointed out that, for all the buzz about big data over the last 20 years, the Covid-19 pandemic has actually led to government officials making decisions directly informed by data, notes the MIT News. “Data is running the economy and deciding who can leave their house and who needs to stay home. The world will need the kind of technology that we can create…” Smith said.
As the president of one of the biggest companies in the world, Smith further talked about Microsoft’s ambitious goals to not just be carbon-negative by 2030, but to remove all of the carbon that the company has emitted since 1975 in the next 30 years. Considering how the Earth is getting better with a few months of lockdown, this goal could be achievable.
“We’re going to need huge breakthroughs in the next three decades if we are going to achieve this fundamental goal of protecting the planet the way we need to,” he said.
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