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Imagine if this virus had emerged two decades ago – perfectly plausible, and nothing in historical terms. Scientists would have not have had the wherewithal to crack the code of the virus or to share it globally and instantaneously. Office workers, in firms and in governments, would not have been able to meet over video, businesses would have not been able to reinvent themselves. Friends and family would have even less connection with the outside world than before. Food and other essential goods and indeed non-essential goods would have not have remained accessible to nearly so many people. Neighbours wouldn’t have been able to look after each other as easily. Governments, health services and businesses wouldn’t have been able to gather data or share information nearly so efficiently. A huge part of the reason we were able to adapt as we have is down to technologies that didn’t exist or were not in widespread use twenty or even ten years ago. It’s enough to make you believe in progress.

Det er altid vanskeligt med kontrafaktisk historieskrivning. Men perspektivet er relevant. Hvordan ville vi som samfund have håndteret en pandemi som COVID-19, hvis den havde fundet sted i f.eks. 1997? Vi er et noget andet sted i dag. Måske min hidtidige fornemmelse af at have levet i en teknologisk sekulær stagnation var forfejlet.