Month: May 2015

Labour forces

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The biggest benefit from organised labour membership is in buying time to invest in retraining. It’s no longer protection from workplace change, or insurance against change.

If wages are being pushed down because the race for automation is being run faster than the race to increase worker productivity, or the race to protect markets from global trade, retrain in something requiring human knowledge, ingenuity, human empathy or personal consultancy, that cannot easily be relocated offshore. An example of each is as follows: cleaner, university researcher, social worker, management consultant.

The owners of businesses likely aren’t interested in choosing between a small number of staff with a union-won set of conditions versus a large labour pool of un-unionised job applicants. Instead, their dilemma is how fast to invest in fully-automated business models.

School teachers may become an endangered species, if it becomes easier for students to gain knowledge directly and cut out the middleman. Future employers will only care about the education standard reached and the relevance to their customers, not the way a school subject was taught.


Love in the age of science

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Our love of broad daylight doesn’t trump the romance, or the expanse of the night sky.

Just because romantic ideas travel by fibre-optic cable at the speed of light, doesn’t make them accepted any quicker.

Being in love with someone seems to involve two things at once – you have to love yourself AND you have to love someone else unconditionally.

Love is always excused. Hate is sometimes forgiven.

If we spend twice as longer thinking about personal text messages and half as long sending them, technology would help us, not overwhelm us.

The introduction of new technology just gives us something else to love. Instead of having more love for each other.

Although the internet connects up more of the World, sadly it doesn’t help us reach a common view.

Happiness is the anticipation of pleasure, gain or success. Sadness is the realisation of pain, loss or failure.

Parenthood 2

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Parents want to be coaches to their kids. Their kids just want them to be cheerleaders!

As a parent, leaning in is seen as interference. Stepping back feels like loss of control, but it does provide overview.

Becoming a parent  – way bigger than dating someone from another culture, changing religion, or undergoing gender reassignment.

Pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap…

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Age creates a World full of contradictions,

That Youth can make no sense of,

And Age cannot explain.


We all want less deprivation, cleaner air,

Universal excitement and human dignity,

But aren’t smart enough to achieve it.


Like a vast discount supermarket, full of stock,

Where far too many goods, cover too few real needs,

And too many products jostling for attention,

Have long exceeded their useful shelf-life in the World.


As artificial night follows natural day,

Future value will attach to the digital services,

That no one understands how to create, only to consume,

And the synthetic biology of 3D printers,

Designed by self-organising software programmes,

Slowly replaces the handmade shop goods of yesteryear.

Fire, Water and Time

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BBQ your emotional baggage,

Bonfire your vanities,

Fire up your ambitions,

Light your path and heat your World.

Water down your tension,

Set the sprinkler on your fears,

Chase the waterfalls down to the depths of your conviction,

Bob and float along, past lesser outcomes.

When you swap your youthful stopwatch on all life’s events,

For a pocket watch to sit in the darkness,

Time is short and life’s poem is over.

It’s productivity Jim. But not as we know it.

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London productivity arguably rests on a four legged stool of superfast broadband, decent public transport, affordable housing and clean air to breathe. Why can’t politicians get their brain in the game on this?

Meanwhile, according to the OECD, after making adjustments for purchasing power parity between countries, the growth in output per head in the five years ending 2015 was 19% for Germany, 18% for USA, 17% for Japan and the entire Eurozone, 10%. In the same study, the UK managed a mere 9%!

People can argue about the data, the method or the way output is valued. In any case, there’s no point blaming the capital versus income taxation regimes for poor national productivity, if both taxes are being widely flouted by big corporates, in favour of tax havens, while lobbying to offset capital investment or job creation with special tax breaks. Physical and intellectual capital investment reduces corporate performance in the short term which then reduces bonuses, isn’t so relevant (as a reason) either, if much of the capital investment (both types) happens in university labs. Or is commercialised off the back of them.

Management decisions that shed labour cost, rather than investing to make the same labour more productive, might explain the relative OECD productivity measures in Germany versus the UK in the above figures. However, since productivity for the EU as a whole (with consistent labour laws) is very similar to the UK, it probably isn’t the main explanation.

There’s also the output valuation issue – how to best measure productive output, if the resulting output value doesn’t necessarily accrue to the invention developer. Perhaps nations wanting to boost productivity, need to publicly reward inventors by waiving their income tax payable? Productivity may continue to be elusive on every level. The race is on, not just to improve national productivity, but even to understand it.

Science and AI

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Biology champions diversity, uniqueness and ever more complexity, with few equations of biological laws. Chemistry and Physics champion the balance of forces, the consistency of atomic behaviour and favour the trend towards disorder. With many equations to represent these things. How can the sciences be working against each other? Are they collaborating to grow our understanding, but then competing to share our understanding?

The age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – where the human desire for freedom and choice will come at the heaviest price – AI selling freedom and choice to us, on its own terms.

What is possible and what is safe? When it comes to AI planning, we should design what is safe and then design what is possible. When it comes to business strategy, taking the opposite approach is best.