The world my children inhabit looks superficially like the world I grew up in during the 1970s. The house they live in, the clothes they wear and the food they eat – none of these would be very strange to the kids of a generation ago (although even here there are notable differences.) But the way they spend their time is completely different to anything I dreamed of doing.
Posted in Life, Politics, Technology
Tagged Computers, Creativity, Economic growth, Economics, Equality, Free trade, Industrial Revolution, Internet, Money, Politics, Poverty, Prediction, Technology, Wealth, Work
Don’t worry. This isn’t about Trump. I’ve returned to my first love – science fiction – with two new novels in the pipeline. The first is a conspiracy thriller set in the near future, the second an apocalyptic blockbuster set in the present day. Continue reading
Posted in Books & Films
Tagged Books, Computers, Creativity, Prediction, Religion, Science, Science fiction, Technology, Werewolves, Words, Work, Writing
Climate change is a very real danger, but one that we are already well on the way to fixing. Without wanting to sound complacent, I think it’s a challenge that the current generation will solve. But what then? Do we simply want to avoid affecting the Earth’s climate, like environmentalists say? Or should we aspire to actively manage it? Continue reading
We are moving from a world in which resources are scarce towards a world of abundance. Many things that were once scarce are already abundant in developed countries and will soon be abundant everywhere, if trends continue.
There’s a strong counter-narrative telling us the opposite – that the world’s resources are almost used up, that population levels are unsustainable and that we must cut back now or face disaster. But Malthus said the same two hundred years ago, and so have countless others. Each has been proved wrong. Continue reading
My all-time favourite scientist was Isaac Newton. Newton was very clever. In fact he was a genius. He discovered lots of interesting and important things. Unfortunately, most of them turned out to be wrong. That doesn’t make him a bad scientist, of course. Finding wrong answers is an important way that science makes progress.
One of the reasons we know that Newton was a genius is that it took a very long time before anyone proved that he was wrong. Around 200 years, in fact. Then Albert Einstein (my second favourite scientist) showed that Newton was wrong, by coming up with some better explanations. Continue reading
Many years ago, a young idealistic Physics graduate set out to make the world a better place. He perceived that one of the greatest technological challenges facing his generation was the need to replace fossil fuels with a clean energy source, to avoid the impending disaster of global warming. He saw the obvious solution to that problem – nuclear power – and decided to dedicate his working life to making nuclear power cheap, safe and abundant. Continue reading
Despite many commentators’ predictions of a hung parliament, the outcome of the UK’s general election was a clear majority for David Cameron’s Conservative Party. It seems that on the whole, the people of England and Wales rejected the parties of the left, and embraced the party that promised to help “hard-working families.” Continue reading
We start out in life without any knowledge, but it’s not long before we start forming simple opinions about the world we find ourselves in. We might call these preferences (I like milk). These probably change over time (I like beer) but they are inherently subjective and cannot be exposed to objective scrutiny (my daddy is better than yours), at least not in a meaningful way (no he isn’t.) We think of these preferences as conscious choices, but we are really just observing what we like and don’t like. Continue reading
Consider this. Nearly every large animal on this planet is stronger than us. Almost every predator has claws, or venom, or sharp teeth. But humans have two advantages that have enabled us to survive and thrive – a large brain, and hands that can pick up and manipulate objects. At the very dawn of pre-history we were busy making stone tools, turning animal skins into clothing, and decorating our own bodies with things that we’d made. We just can’t help it. We have to make things. Give any human a physical object and they will try to do something with it.
In the modern world, we are constantly surrounded by machines and inventions – from the clothes we wear, to the houses we live in, to the cars, trains and planes we travel around in, to the computers and other electronic devices we use for work and leisure. In this article, I want to consider this special relationship between humans and the machines we create. I want to look at where this relationship with our creations is heading.
I just got this creepy message from Goodreads.com in my Facebook feed:
“Goodreads added something in the past to your timeline.”
How sinister is that? How can something have been added just now but in the past? Continue reading