Let’s face it, futurists mostly love robots. The word (from the Czech robota, meaning servitude or drudgery, coined in the 1920s), the history of the idea (back to the Greeks, through Leonardo, to Frankenstein), the associations. So maybe it’s not surprising that one of the most intriguing stories I’ve read recently – and meant to blog before now – is about the rapidly emerging issue of robot ethics, courtesy of SEED magazine.
Obviously if you’re reading this on the blog you’ll have seen that I’ve added a search box – but if you get the updates via the RSS feed I thought it might be helpful to know. Some readers have been saying that it’s hard to find things they’d read before and wanted to revisit.
There’s an interview with the writer William Gibson in the Q3 futures supplement of New Media Age (subscription only) in which he’s asked, “You’ve written that the web provided a magnificent opportunity to waste time. What else is it good for?”
Sadly, given the wording of the question, he passes up the chance to do an Edwin Starr impersonation and say, “Absolutely nothing”. But his reply is worth reading:
All of the questions we used to ask about cyberspace are now more rewardingly asked about ‘non-mediated experience’ – those increasingly rare moments when we disconnect from all media. The digital is now the rule, while the non-mediated becomes ever more the exception.
There’s so much ‘noise’ coming out of the music industry sector, pun not intended, that it is still hard to discern what the trends are, but one seems to be becoming clearer by the day: the half-century long boom in long-format music, which has made the industry so profitable, is coming to an end. We’re going back to the days of the song.
A note to say that I’ve added a couple more articles to the selected articles page:
- One, “The Architecture of the Future”, explores the ways in which cities are changing – at least in Britain. It was published in a book which Camelot commissioned last year on the impact of the lottery.
- The second is an updated version of a chapter I wrote several years ago, on innovation in the creative sector. It’s longer.
Back in January I took part in an event for the NCVO (which supports community and voluntary organisations in the UK) on good practice in foresight and scenarios. They’ve just made available online a summary of my introduction and the lively discussion which ensued. It’s a good introduction to the issues about doing foresight and scenarios work in the non-profit sector.
Obviously, I’m as opposed to companies colluding so as to gouge the customers at least as much as the next person. Equally obviously, it’s a bad thing if airlines gang up to pretend they’re competing when they’re not, really. And, therefore, it’s A Good Thing when British Airways is fined £270m for running a cosy little deal with Virgin to keep their prices up (even if it’s also a bit of a mystery even on close readings of the story as to why Virgin escaped unscathed.) But buried in all of this is an idea about how to reduce the volume of air travel while not destroying the aviation business in the process. Competition economics is not, typically, good for the long-term health of the planet.
I spoke in June at the ‘Creative Summit‘ in Bristol – the event was hosted by the South West Regional Development Authority and designed to help develop the creative sector in the region. As well as doing the presentation, I was asked to contribute an article to the website, summarising my argument.