Have I reached the Douglas Adams Inflection point (or is modern tech just a bit rubbish)?


A tiny TARDIS made of Lego.

The all-knowing sage Douglas Adams had this to say about technology: Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably…

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Book Review: Me++ The Cyborg Self and the Networked City - William J. Mitchell


Book cover.

This book is outstanding. It is a clear-eyed view of the future as it was seen from 20 years ago. I've never taken so many scribbled notes in the margins of a book. Many of the ideas are ahead of its time - and only a couple of clunkers which never made it. One thing…

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The Modern World


This is a little story about standards, technology, civilisation, and the modern world. I know it is tempting to only talk about the various ways technology disappoints us, but sometimes it can be quite magical living in the future. A few week ago, I took a trip to a foreign country... I waved a rectangle…

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My 2022 predictions from 2012


A tiny TARDIS made of Lego.

Exactly a decade ago, I asked "Why Can't Red Dwarf Predict The Future?" That is - sci-fi writers can imagine interstellar travel and sentient computers, but they think the future will still involve developing film photographs, library fines, and 3-pin electrical plugs. At the end of the post, I said: Here are my thoughts on…

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Predicting The Future - What 1981 Got Wrong


A microchip with a British flag on it. Technology and the office of the future There is considerable scope for improving the productivity in offices. The major technological advances which will have an impact on this sector are the low-cost VDU, mass data storage, the digital network and voice command by B.W.Manley

As part of my MSc, I fell down a research rabbit-hole of 1980s "Office Of THE FUTURE!!" articles. Ultimately, I couldn't find a way to include it in my research - so you're getting my cast offs. So, I present to you some choice predictions from "Technology and the office of the future" by B.…

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You have no idea of the changes which are coming


The New National Health Service.

I wrote this before the pandemic. I chickened out of publishing it because I was working for NHSX at the time. Some of these things have come to pass. Some are yet to come. I'll never forget the look of horror on my professor's face when I told him I didn't think his university course…

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WTF - Welcoming The Future!


App screenshot saying it is now updating the firmware of Liz's bed.

My wife wasn't allowed to go for a post-lunch nap yesterday. Our smarthome wouldn't let her... OK! OK! It wasn't as bad as all that. I built an Internet-connected electric blanket so I can yell at the Alexa to pre-warm the bed. One of the IoT switches needed a firmware update. All over and done…

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In the future, will computers be faster or slower?


A tiny pixelated person runs away from a crude model of a car.

Here's a great set of questions to ask at your next corporate strategy away day. I know you know the answers to these questions - but I promise that the people in charge of your organisation will have some illuminating answers. Thinking about the next five years... will computers be faster or slower? will the…

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Electrical Neutrality


There's a new energy provider launching in the UK soon, Elektrique Power. They've got an innovative pricing structure that I'd like to discuss. As a base rate, they charge 12p/kWh - that's one of the cheapest on the market. But that's where the good deals end. That 12p is only for domestic 13amp sockets. For…

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What does a robot look like?


The Terminator is a terrifying metal skeleton with glowing red eyes.

This is a question I often ask my students. Typically they say a robot looks like this: Or this: Broadly human, but mostly metal. Occasionally, I get non anthropocentric answers like this mule: Or even something stark and industrial like this: One is experimental, the other is rarely seen in day-to-day life. The truth is,…

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