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 […] Read More

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, […] Read More

Synthetarianism


Synthetic meat is coming soon! Actually, it has been coming soon for a long long long long long time. There are many interesting social aspects to this future. Is lab-grown meat kosher or halal? Would eating human-meat be cannibalism? Is it vegetarian? But, most importantly, what do we call people with a dietary preference for […] Read More

What if your Internet Connected Fridge came with free electricity?


A bit of future-gazing which I can't be bothered spinning into a 15,000 word Gartner report. In the UK we have a competitive electricity market. Only one set of wires comes to your house, but you can buy your electricity from a number of providers. Some only offer organic, corn-fed, Wind Farm power - others […] Read More

The Robot Had A Nose


C-3P0 doesn't have a schnoz. The degloved terminator has a bleak hole where his snout should be. Both the Jetson's Rosie and Futurama's Bender are arhinotic. The robot sat in front of me was different. The RoboThespian is an imposing chunk of metal. LEDs blink as servomotors whine. The exposed wiring twists as the arms […] Read More

Asymmetric Latency


I've just finished reading the most wonderful short story - Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang. In it, he speculates on what would happen if The Tower of Babel were completed. For those unfamiliar with the legend, it tells of a people who tried to build a tower tall enough to reach the heavens. The […] Read More

Tales of the Algorithm: The Transparent Man


Scene: An airport. A few years from now. "I'm sorry sir, we can't let you on the flight until you visit the rest-room." I'll admit that it caught me off-guard. Surely the woman at the airline gate was joking? "Sir, two of the plane's toilets are out-of-order. At this time we're requesting all passengers void […] Read More

The Future Is About To Get Weird


Imagine, just for a moment, you could tell someone's most intimate secrets just by looking at them. Many year ago, when I was very young and you were even younger, I saw an advert in the back pages of some cheap comic. The implication was clear - SEE GIRLS NAKED! The reality was somewhat more […] Read More

What's The Next Phone Box?


As I scuttled through Piccadilly Tube Station last week, I noticed a relic of the past. Where once a dozen-or-so booths greedily gobbled up the loose change of passers-by - there now is a scar. What's the next thing which will be torn out of the landscape? Petrol stations are likely to remain - even […] Read More

Would You Shoot R2-D2 in the Face?


The most distressing movie moment I experienced when I was a child, was watching R2-D2 being shot by a TIE fighter towards the end of Star Wars. (Spoiler!) The sheer callousness of a "baddie" deliberately inflicting pain on a cute a loveable character is, I suppose, understandably upsetting - especially to a small child. I […] Read More