Driverless trains

If we are on the cusp, according to the likes of Elon Musk, of all being whisked around in the comfort of autonomous vehicles, why aren't our train systems already ubiquitously automated? Whilst I have no doubt that driving a train is a challenging task, presumably without the need to actually steer surely the challenges … Continue reading Driverless trains

All in a glance

At the end of my street is the reasonably busy road that links the suburbs of Teddington and Kingston. At peak times the traffic can pass slowly, sometimes queuing in one or both directions. Even at non-peak times there is a constant flow of cars in both directions. Taking a right turn North out of … Continue reading All in a glance

The rise of the cost-benefit robots

And so the insurrection is beginning. Last week Japanese insurance Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance announced that it was going to be replacing 34 staff with an artificial intelligence that would be calculating payouts (although, it noted, with human oversight still making final approvals). The technology would improve productivity by 30% and the firm expected to save some … Continue reading The rise of the cost-benefit robots

Self-driving fantasies

Piece of data #1: the average car is parked for an average of 95% of its lifetime. Piece of data #2: 57.5% of the UK population drive to work. Piece of data #3: the average Brit sleeps something of the order of 7 hours in any 24 hour period. Including time either end for going to bed and … Continue reading Self-driving fantasies

Generating untold demand

We are all going to be replaced by robots, right? We are at last on the cusp of the leisure society or, by another analysis, about to enter a new era of serfdom where we are all beholden to our Silicon Valley/Chinese/robot overlords. Or are we? A very similar narrative played out in the 1970s … Continue reading Generating untold demand

Changing habits

The Emotional Change Curve is something of a stock in trade amongst people involved in organizational change management, and a model that I have used extensively over the years. The model and its variants are derived from work by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and plots a series of emotional reacts that people have when confronted by change … Continue reading Changing habits

Change leadership

It's all change in Government technology circles. The various changes that have happened at the top of the Government Digital Service and elsewhere in recent days signify something, although I'm not entirely sure what. Derek du Preez makes a good stab of it here. All this change got me thinking. For a while now I've been … Continue reading Change leadership

I’m done with the platform economy

A debate at this week's wonderful Names Not Numbers event has crystallised something that has been bouncing around my head for a while. I'm done with the idea of industry-specific software platforms. Here's why: 1. Platforms automate out humanity Part of yesterday's debate was agreeing where the boundaries of machine and human lie in our … Continue reading I’m done with the platform economy

It’s going to happen anyway…

I had to spend much of yesterday at a hospital in London after my eldest was refered by our GP (thankfully, it turns out, nothing particularly serious). Watching the machinations of the health service in action can be painful. There is paper everywhere. Vast stretches of waiting around are interspersed with short consultations with medical … Continue reading It’s going to happen anyway…

What the Butler Saw

I spent some time last night globetrotting from the comfort of my sofa. Wearing the Oculus Gear headset, and exploring Google Streetview VR through the power of my voice I was able to teleport across the world. At one level this is incredible. I remember fondly back to the Domesday Project of the 1980s and … Continue reading What the Butler Saw