The two things I love about coronavirus
I know coronavirus has killed people, people whose family, friends and relatives are currently mourning. Family, friends and relatives that are in deep pain, are panicked, and are suffering from untold anxiety. This article is not meant to ridicule their pain or to belittle their suffering, but to highlight two very important ideas I hold dear – 1. Working from home and 2. Evolution.
Coronavirus is making working from home possible
Working from home is not a new invention. I personally I have worked from home ever since I first got employed in July of 2007. That was a job that I applied for online, got interviewed through Skype, worked for the company for a whooping six years without physically meeting anyone from that company, and got fired via a phone call. When I lost that job, trying to get a similar job where I could work with such a flexibility proved futile. A job I got after that required me to report to work every 8 AM, and given the Nairobi’s traffic jam and my inability to rise up early, it only took 3 months before I got my ass fired. The only job I have been able to keep after my first job is this one – which doesn’t require me to wake up at 6 AM, be in the office by 8 AM, and sit at some desk through to 5 PM before figuring out how to arrive home before 9 PM.
You can now understand why I am such a champion for working from home – which should include the flexibility of working of whatever time of day or night as long as the target is met. I started a discussion about this over at LinkedIn by posting it this way:
I have made a decision that unless the nature of work doesn’t allow for flexibility, I will not accept a job where I am forced to work 8 AM to 5 PM. This is because I cannot be productive during the day. In today’s world, companies should be flexible to allow workers, especially those who work mostly from their computers, to work flexibly as long as targets are met. If someone is a salesperson, give them weekly or monthly sales target. How and when they achieve that should be up to them. This should apply to most other lines of work. I for example would prefer working from 3PM all the way to 2AM daily, so an employer should not worry that I did not report to work at 8AM as tradition requires.
Pushing companies to allow for employees to work from home has been a toll order. There are employers like my previous employer who embraced the work from home philosophy at the dawn of the Internet, but this culture hasn’t gained popularity even among tech savvy Internet popularizers like Google – a company that has become synonymous with the Internet. But coronavirus is set to change that old school brick and mortar mindset.
As reported by CNN, “Google parent company Alphabet is recommending that all employees in North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East work from home due to coronavirus”. This necessitated change on work culture is not just going to allow Google to control the spread of coronavirus amongst its employees, but also offer them an opportunity to get data on benefits of working from home, both for the company and for the employee. The company will also get to understand and probably work towards sorting out any hurdles that make it difficult for employees to efficiently meet their targets while working from home.
And it is not just Google that is testing this work from home culture. JP Morgan, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and many other companies have requested their employees particularly those in North America to work from home.
And it is not just working from home that companies are testing. When an Australian teacher got exposed to Coronavirus while in China, he self quarantined himself when he got back to Australia, and made arrangements on how to deliver his lessons to his students via the Internet. An Opinion Piece by James Crabtree titled Teaching technology stands to be rare winner from coronavirus explains how schools in Asia have opted for virtual classes instead of closing down schools. Here in Kenya, Catholic University announced that it is preparing to teach students from home in case the coronavirus hits Kenya.
Just like working from home is allowing organizations to study just how effective the work from home culture will turn out to be, schools offering virtual lessons are taking the opportunity to both improve their distant learning programmes, and also see how creative they can get while at it.
By the time coronavirus has finished wreaking havoc on humans, we definitely are going to be left with an improved working culture centered on flexibility, and an improved education system that leverages on the Internet and other futuristic technologies like VR.
Then there is evolution
This should be a brief explanation for the theory of evolution. Many people do not accept evolution simply because they do not understand how it works, and I think coronavirus offers us a very clear picture of how the process actually works in nature.
There is an hypothesis going round claiming that the black skin is immune to coronavirus. So far there are no reports of any black man or woman who has died from the virus. Actually the first black skin to contract the virus, a Cameroonian student, became the first person to get cured of the disease. The hypothesis that black man is immune from the virus is however wrong because there are black people who have contracted the virus, including the Cameroonian student.
But let’s assume three things:
- That indeed black Africans were actually immune against coronavirus
- That fatality rate of those not immune against the virus was 100%
- That the virus attacked humanity when health services were undeveloped (e.g. health services Homo sapiens had during the stone age).
The consequence of the above assumptions is that naturally coronavirus could have wiped out all humans except the black race. If that happened, then the next generation of humans after that could be made up of only black race, a composition of humans that could be biochemically different from the human race that lived before coronavirus attacked.
They would be biochemically different because the new race would be living with live coronaviruses within them, but not killing them (since those that could have been killed were already killed). This slight but significant difference would make the new human race slightly evolved (changed).
Then after several hundred years another disease could attack, killing the “weak” of that race living only the immune a.k.a the fit to survive. Then after some other years another attack could kill yet another weaker version in the new race. If the process continues for half a million years – and you get to compare the humans of that time vs the humans who were first attacked by coronavirus, you’d find the two humans to be of totally different species.
And it is not just coronavirus and similar diseases (ebola, bacteria, fungal infections) that can drive evolution as explained, but any other natural process that leads to the extinction of the weaker version of a specie, and lets the fit version (fit for current environment) to survive. Some of these other natural processes can be simple things like increased global temperatures where those unable to survive in the higher temperatures are killed off, food shortage, sexual selection e.g. if all black women decided they will only mate with white men hence rendering black men extinct, geographical separation, and a raft of several other natural processes.
The process by which nature selects for the survival of members of a species at the expense of other members that can be considered weak given the new ecosystem is what is called natural selection. It is through a repeated processes of natural selection that we end up with speciation, hence evolution.
This is the third and final installment of my “explaining science” series.