UK Politics

Why are journalists (TV or press) so poor at asking UK politicians the right questions? Sometimes it takes a forum like ‘Question Time’ on TV, for voters themselves to ask the right questions to the politicians on the panel. Even then, the politician has to represent all the views and ministerial portfolios of their party, in a quick two minute answer.

General Election Result

From the General Election result in the UK on Friday 9th June, two things were very clear if you look past the spin. Firstly, the country is incredibly divided – witness the 2 main parties respective vote shares. And the resulting number of marginal seats all over Britain.

And secondly, a 7 week electoral campaign period was worse than no campaign at all. Clearly, no party had enough time to deeply communicate its ideas, policies and vision for the UK to the voters.  Following a 7 week campaign and the carrot of free tuition fees (under Labour), British youth turned out in record numbers to vote – the record turn-out being a victory for democracy. But did the youth really understand what they were voting for, being novices on; the election process, the party policies and the globally inter-dependent World we now find ourselves in.  The same could be said about many veteran voters.

First-past-the-post 

The basic electoral system in the UK needs to switch to a proportional representation system, instead of the first-past-the-post. After all, if it’s good enough for a Brexit referendum and local government elections, it ought to be good enough for general elections too. Some examples of the problem: (1) The SNP at the 2015 general election polled roughly 50% of the vote, but gained 56 of 59 seats! Equally UKIP gained about 4M votes (80% of the population of Scotland) but only 1 seat in the UK parliament.

More generally, people’s vote in a safe seat with a huge margin, is essentially worthless. However, their vote, if it happens to be in a highly marginal seat, is massively influential.

U-turns in office

Politicians need to formulate clever and effective policies that fix big problems and are easy to communicate to voters. Once formulated, the party in office shouldn’t then be doing U-turns on those promises.

If any kind of coalition government is formed, U turns are inevitable, in order for coalition compromises to be reached. The best chance of avoiding coalition outcomes (policy U turns) is to have proportional representation.

Where’s the honesty in the debate?

The level of honest debate in UK politics needs to massively increase, if we are to heal the social divisions and cure people’s cynicism of politicians. In life outside politics, you can’t make sensible decisions based on lies. So why do voters tolerate so much spin from politicians, on something as important as running the country?

Politicians don’t create jobs, except indirectly in state-owned enterprises and government departments. Even then, they take no enterprise risk and put no personal investment into those enterprises. Politicians lie in taking the credit for job creation and what’s worse, take the public’s appreciation away from business start ups, large businesses and not for profit employers – the ones creating tax receipts, jobs & futures for the citizens. Maybe we need a series of fines that politicians have to pay personally (to charities or food banks) when they are caught out in a lie?

Honest debate isn’t just about avoiding lies. It’s also about making realistic assumptions. Can any party realistically govern in a hung parliament situation, let alone negotiate Brexit? How much tax can really be collected from the super rich? How much can social services be cut, before the social fabric is lost forever? Are some benefits better provided by charities. rather than by central government (charities are apolitical and experts at grant making)? Is trying to create a balanced annual budget by trimming public spending (often labelled as austerity) inherently evil and uncaring, or is the problem more about the taxes collected not getting through to the people who need it most? Can nationalised utilities and local bodies really run things like companies and schools better for the voters? Can a free health system with massive staff shortages cope without some kind of rationing of its services? Can a home country really become independent and still expect to side-step their share of the national debt/keep the Barnet formula subsidy/keep using the old currency? Will massive public borrowing for big infrastructure projects really pay off tenfold? How likely is it that workers ,will move to other parts of the country where the job vacancies are?

A final thought. The World is growing more complex and more inter-connected far faster than political systems and career politicians can adjust to those changes. As the complexity rises, voters go to the polls armed with less and less understanding of what they are really voting for – they focus on party values rather than manifesto implications.

The only real solution to that trend is voters choosing to educate themselves on; economics, global trade, technology, law and international trade.

The times they are a changin’

If the pace of technological advancement is speeding up, the pace of human consensus-building cannot afford to slow down.

At some point, AI decision-making will have to intervene. AI concerned with countering the ‘natural’ tendencies towards wealth concentration, human corruption and human greed (greedy because we can be).

Will religion, which used to counter these things, cope with an AI world?

Cry freedom

_MG_6660-Perseverance-Place-for-WebIs freedom now a zero-sum game? 

In the distant past, there were new lands to explore and colonise. Phase one – human freedom was on the rise.

Then came space constraints, leading to wars over resources, nationhood, human conquest and slavery. Some problems like global warming, wealth distribution inequality and global pollution grew to become almost unsolvable.  Phase two – overall human freedom grew, but much was offset.

Now, as the Internet of Things grows in prominence, will its freedom to operate, come at the expense of human freedom per se (Phase three)?

If we continue to obsess about Phase two shortcomings, then by the time we collectively think about Phase three, Phase four will be upon us…

The evolution of political representation:

  • Working people gain their own representation.
  • Women gain their own representation.
  • Children gain their own representation.
  • Gay people gain their own representation.
  • Trans-gender people gain their own representation.
  • Cyborg people gain their own representation.
  • AI systems gain their own representation.

Design

_MG_2207

Design-carefully crafting a set of stepping stones, to create the road to perfection.

Visualisation-the art of standing in dark cellars and seeing rainbows. Interpretation– letting a simple message rise up out of the starting blocks, run a controlled race and on the home straight, smile for a photo finish. Execution-making forward travel along the arc of the rainbow, but taking time out to write postcards from the edge.

Can you design a human relationship?

Perhaps the best you can do is identify some key values that you both share, appreciate the overlap in those values and share a dream.

Can you design a professional working relationship?

Companies set the ground rules, but can’t design in human ingenuity. Companies might set out to design end products and services. But it’s the values, courage and persistence that take the team from start to roll-out.

Online Education advances

single-robot-sat-down-thinking-header_MG_0599

http://uk.businessinsider.com/google-education-expert-machine-learning-2016-8

I recently read an interesting article (see weblink above) by Jonathan Rochelle. Mr Rochelle is the head of the product management team for Google’s education outreach arm, called Google for Education.

Expert machine programming/AI development helps machines learn and machines (increasingly) help students learn. The question is, will conventional teaching cope?

Without doubt, machine learning is high growth off a low base. With a good deal more investment-return uncertainty, machine-assisted student learning is high growth off a low installation base.

Meanwhile, in the land of traditional education methods, the effectiveness of human teachers in fostering high learning growth from students is experiencing far more sluggish improvement. Some of the reasons arguably include the following (in no particular order):

(1) a lack of agreement inside schools on what’s causing the attainment gap problem. Is it a shortage of the best teachers, or the best teaching practices? Is it the poor parent-school partnership or the lack of school boundaries?

(2) resistance to learning from the students. Students and their parents may have a different view from the school about the best teaching style, or the best learning style for the student. Are teachers, who are passionate about their subject, making it relevant enough to the students’ future lives?

(3) the need to build suitable physical facilities to support student learning. Will far more conventional classrooms need to become computer suites, perhaps with virtual reality apparatus?

(4) budget funding constraints

(5) confusion on the institutions’ own goals (too many targets?).

As online education software increasingly provides a more complete teaching solution in the classroom, what can human educators do? Start planning now for the changeover (move to a variable cost workforce and shorter shelf-life classroom facilities), immerse students in the online systems world (so student graduates can partner with it later) and offer school curriculum choices in subjects that will be slowest to become obsolete i.e. subjects that remain valued by future employers who hire student graduates.

Lastly, how long before the Chinese equivalent of Google matches Google’s audacious plans for transforming global education?

The coming decade…

single-robot-sat-down-thinking-header

Education and Work

Students stay at school longer, then graduate to do what? Make better and more informed decisions. Decisions on the things that AI can’t or won’t yet do.

People concede that they need the extra education to understand analysis. Year 14 Maths is compulsory.

Jobs open up reconciling and debugging AI systems, until such time as they merge. Counselling, drug rehab and mental health jobs prosper.

Politics and governance

Politics between 2020 and 2030 becomes largely concerned with social wealth distribution. Taxation and investment decisions are reformed.

Political referendums become more prevalent as the technology to host them becomes more cost-effective, but then disappear as governance identifies that issues can’t be resolved piecemeal, but that wholesale ecosystem policy reform is needed.

Hedge fund AI resources are harnessed to government policy making? How? Indirectly via consulting firms and higher education computer resources. Governments commission most complex policy problems to be solved using AI. AI resources are rented as needed to deliver the output.

The serious and super-complex problems become resolved by groups of AI’s acting together. Monitoring systems progressively merge.

International trade

Trade becomes less physical movement and more trade credits for the IP on items exported and imported between countries.

AI performs increasingly more of the services that currently occur between people.

Most financial currencies consolidate to align with the half a dozen large trading blocs that emerge.

Entertainment

Celebration of human endeavour is highlighted, tapping the human need to cheer the underdog. e.g. music contests, the Olympics and sports leagues, even as AI controls more of our functioning World.

Healthcare

Basic healthcare receives priority attention. People are actively counselling about healthy lifestyle choices.

Junk food and confectionery companies sponsor medical research into fat cell inhibiting medications and finally succeed, making their profits soar.

Mental health counselling aided by AI diagnostics achieves a quiet revolution, creating a happier but more aware society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Left and the Right

21st Century Champagne socialists favour a world in which everyone has equal access to the resources they require in order to flourish, rather than one of equal distribution.

Meanwhile, 21st Century conservatives (with a small c) favour a world in which everyone has equal opportunity to build the resources they require.

What’s the difference? Incentive. Building resources in an efficient way requires it. Having resources to share, skips over the incentive problem of creating them in the first place.

What’s the problem with both views? One problem is resource sustainability. In a World that wasn’t over-populated, Adam Smith and Karl Marx could conveniently ignore the environmental impacts of their theories.

Then there’s the policy confusion problem (too many targets). Having equal access to all of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is arguably a redundant problem, if too many people are grasping just for the first need (basic food and shelter) and the nation’s too poor at governance to provide them all with that first need, let alone the others (high quality healthcare, crime prevention, free access to museums, foreign aid etc). Does that mean 21st Century socialists should concentrate on the basics first, or continue concentrating on securing equal access at all Maslow levels? Meanwhile, building resources requires skill, energy and materials. If the government policies aren’t smart or cohesive enough to encourage people build just the first of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that’s a problem also.

What to do? If good government requires the governors to do the greatest good for the greatest number, use the Maslow model as a foundation for your policy priorities and skip the vanity projects!

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/16/what-problem-champagne-socialism-francois-hollande