COVID-19 Update

AV and IT Integrators Must Focus on Problems That Actually Need to Be Solved

From improved bandwidth to better videoconferencing experiences to telemedicine to bringing back live events, there’s plenty to keep AV pros busy.

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AV and IT Integrators Must Focus on Problems That Actually Need to Be Solved

We’re starting to see more companies welcome their employees back to an office that looks much different than when most of them left it in mid-March.

Colleges and universities are doing everything they can to make campus life as normal as possible for their students and K-12 schools across the country are trying to figure out the right balance between in-person education and long-term safety for their young students as we head into September.

Meanwhile, live events professionals are trying to figure out new ways to bring in-person sports and entertainment to fans around the world, whether it’s by turning drive-in movie theaters to tailgates for fans to watch live shows by their favorite artists in parking lots or bringing fans into arenas virtually.

Everyone, it seems, is working on the best way to use technology to solve the problems that have cropped up as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as it continues to spread across the U.S. and around the world.

Related: Artificial Intelligence is Invading Journalism—and I’m Nervous About It

All of that brain power and focusing on solutions is perfect in the case of the COVID-19 outbreak, but more often today than ever, we’re starting to see stories about and reports on the use of technology to solve problems that really didn’t need to be addressed in the first place.

Most of these solutions center on creating efficiencies, either on the production line or in a company’s ability to help its customers, and many of them involve artificial intelligence. The problem is AI just isn’t at the point yet where it’s creating the efficiencies most want and that just leads to more problems.

Machine learning has become a pervasive element of everyday life and smart devices such as the Amazon Echo have become staples in homes across the U.S. and were making inroads in hotels before the pandemic swept across the country.

They might have staying power post-coronavirus too since many people will be too afraid to touch anything in their hotel rooms or to even push the start button on the videoconferencing system in their company’s board room whenever they return to the office.

Crossing the Line

But sometimes technology just simply goes too far, no matter how much good it brings into the world in other circumstances. Generally, the marketplace will tell product developers that they’re not fans of their products by either not buying it at all or panning it on social media when they do and hate it.

It’s typically at the cross-section of science and technology where there’s the most debate about the value of solving problems with machines rather than humans. The Neuralink rolled out recently by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is the latest example, but not the first and certainly not the last.

Certainly, there are plenty of examples of AV and IT technology doing wonders for the health care industry. Take telemedicine as the most recent and certainly widest-impact example of this idea.

Without the ability for most patients to talk to and even share medical information with their doctors for the past six months, we’d likely have an even larger number of deaths from COVID-19 worldwide. But, again, things like cloning and embedded devices are just a step too far for many to consider.

There’s a balance when it comes to the problems AV and IT integrators should be solving and the ones they should leave alone. It’s not always as simple as doing what your customers ask you to do. It’s about doing what should be done to advance rather than compromise the cause for AV and IT as a whole.

There are plenty of problems AV and IT integrators can solve with technology. Making the right choices in that regard will help to continue to advance the industries and lead to some wonderful solutions we can’t imagine today. Focusing solely on profit or fame, though, could have dangerous consequences.

There’s no need to bring technology to people before it’s ready. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people will embrace technology whenever they’re ready for it and it’s ready for them.