As deep fake technologies "improve", they now have the ability to manipulate the past as well as the future. We can no longer be sure that a historical document, photograph or even video footage has not been manipulated to change history (in ways not even Orwell's Big Brother could have imagined). Case in point, here … Continue reading Can we build a shared future without a shared past?
Eric Hoffer was an American dock worker. An everyman. Not a rich man, not a man you would have noticed in the streets in the 1930s and 1940s. One of the nameless, voiceless masses we live and work with every day. But he was more than that. He was also a keen observer of human … Continue reading The true believer
When fallible human priests fail to fill the void, and reveal themselves to be more human than divine; we turn to man-made synthetic deities. Japan's robot priest confirms that we are looking for new gods for our new age - made in our own image, yet perfectly, and programmable. (And not all that different from … Continue reading (A)I Am
Reflections on the Revolution in France... a book written by a rich Englishman of leisure, critiquing the working-class French Revolution from the other side of the pond... Revealing, (although perhaps more revealing of Burke himself than the author may have intended) as much for what it gets wrong about the French revolution itself (Burke was … Continue reading Reflections on the Revolution in France
Shirley Jackson's collection of dystopian short-form fiction The Lottery (and other stories) is a stark reminder of the fragility, banality and horror of the un-scrutinised human condition. It's all too easy to slip into group-think that priorities the "greater good" over the individual life. And once we have accepted that, it is a slippery slope to treating people … Continue reading The Lottery
"They have a phenomenal memory. If you were to read them a twenty-volume encyclopaedia they could repeat the contents in order, but they never think up anything original. They'd make fine university professors." ~ R.U.R The defining text for robots, Rossum's Universal Robots is a facial science fiction play written in the 1920's as … Continue reading Rossum’s Universal Robots
I don't know about you, but I cannot live without a few secrets. Without secrets, without a private inner life, we lose our individuality and our sense of self. Today though, we are bombarded with messages telling us that privacy is worth sacrificing for the greater good; for the good of community security, for the … Continue reading Secrets and Lies
The below is a transcript of my recent Pecha Kucha (20 slides, 20 seconds each) talk on "Social Cooling" - a disturbing phenomenon I think everyone should be aware of. Personal data is said to be the new oil…not just because of the industry’s value, but because of its power. And, like big oil is blamed … Continue reading Social Cooling
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin As we move from the text and screen web to the voice and spacial web (and possibly even into the age of a fully connected human Brainternet), we move one step closer to … Continue reading Are we nearing the end of the age of literacy?
"...I have developed a very powerful sense of social irresponsibility..." ~ Richard Feynman The inimitable and endlessly quotable Richard Feynman always makes for entertaining - and enlightening - reading. Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman is part physics lecture, part biography and complete delight. A Nobel prize, winner, atom-bomb contributor, and occasional amateur philosopher, Richard Feynman, … Continue reading Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman