Margaret discusses how our automation and efficiencies are making us unprepared for the future as well as having an impact on society as a whole.
Margarent Heffernan gave a great TED talk about how companies and individuals have trended towards automation and efficiency, which to a large extent is a good thing. However, this can unravel quickly when the unexpected happens.
Margaret talks about how forward-thinking companies and agencies are now moving more towards a “just in case” model of management instead of “just in time” where everything is so planned out, that everything is exactly where it needs to be at just the right time. The theory behind “just in case” is that the unexpected will happen and when it does, the consequences can be devastating, unless you’re prepared to handle perfectly plausible situations even if they would be unexpected.
Continue reading “From Just In Time, to Just In Case”
Elon Musk discussed his work to date, between Tesla, SpaceX and the Boring Company, what he’s currently working on and how he sees the future (spoiler alert: your house will have a solar roof and you may know someone living on Mars)
I see and read a lot about Elon Musk, between his appearances in the news and the technology and engineering articles that I tend to gravitate towards, but I don’t recall having ever seen an interview with him.
My love of Wait But Why has given me a very thorough run-down of Elon’s projects over the last few years between Tesla, Hyperloop, SpaceX and more recently Neuralink, and it has always been clear from the sheer scale of his vision that he’s a brilliant mind that is thinking decades ahead of us. However, reading about him and his projects doesn’t make you appreciate his genius quite like seeing him talk about them.
Elon recently did an interview at TED2017 and for 40 minutes, he and Chris Anderson talked about all of the projects that Elon is juggling. What is most captivating is the way in which Elon thinks about the future and rationally asserts how things are going to change in the future. Continue reading “Elon Musk’s visions for the future”
Uber, AirBnB and Bitcoin are at the forefront of a trust revolution, where we’re ditching our faith in institutions like banks, governments and churches in favour of trusting complete strangers that we can reliably put our faith in.
I love a good TED talk. Every now and then, one resonates so well with me that I feel compelled to post it here to share it with other.
Rachel Botsman’s recent talk was one such talk. She discussed how trust has moved through three distinct phases in history: local trust, where our trust was knowing those in the village, institutional trust, where we relied upon banks, companies and governments to determine who and what could be trusted to the recently emerging distributed trust, where our behaviour, reputation and globally accepted practices and technologies dictate what we can trust today.
Continue reading “Why institutional trust has vanished and distributed trust is soaring”
In June, the UK collectively and narrowly voted to leave the European Union in a referendum which has divided the nation on a scale never seen before. Alexander Betts looks at the causes and effects of the result in an intelligent and considered way that helps us to realise that there’s some ugly demons in all our societies.
It’s been about 6 weeks since Britons went to the polls and narrowly decided that they wanted to leave the European Union. I had some thoughts on the matter the day after the result, but perhaps the best autopsy on the result that I have seen thus far has been from Alexander Betts in a TED talk he gave just days after the result.
Alexander is a social scientist and works specifically in the field of migration and refugees. No matter which side of the fence you are on, it’s hard to deny the validity of Alexander’s arguments. Continue reading “Brexit: an autopsy”
Putting people in jail, particularly if they are young, poor or a minority is the American standard for dealing with even the pettiest of crimes, which has a lifelong and devastating impact on these people’s lives. Adam Foss is taking a different approach by helping them out of their bad situations and creating contributing members of society out of them.
You’d be hard pushed to deny that there’s an issue with America’s justice system. Prisons are overloaded with young, petty, minority offenders and it’s costing us a lot of money. John Oliver has made a few videos now highlighting various issues within the system:
Continue reading “A common sense approach to prosecutions”
Tim Urban from Wait But Why gives a TED talk that details what’s in the mind of a procrastinator that causes them to make such poor decisions sometimes. Spoiler alert: it involves monkeys and monsters.
I’ve been reading Wait But Why for a while now ever since stumbling upon Tim’s excruciatingly-long dissertation on how cars came to run on fossil fuels and despite the best efforts of the oil industry, electric cars can and will prevail.
A brief history of fossil fuels, climate, cars, batteries and Tesla
What is Wait But Why I hear you ask? It’s a website by a guy called Tim Urban who is an extreme procrastinator, like I can be. When something intrigues him, he researches it until he’s read all there is to read about that subject. Then he digests and regurgitates that information for us to consume. Continue reading “Wait But Why – inside the minds of procrastinators”
I’d argue that most of what is called “news” these days is anything but. In fact, we could easily do away with 95% of the news and still have too much information. The American media is at the forefront of this trend and is making a mockery of the profession of journalism in the process.
A couple of years ago, the building that I work in installed televisions at the elevator landings. I’ve no idea why, but I guess they figure that people want to be constantly bombarded with news and media and the 15 seconds that we spend waiting for the lift is a perfect opportunity to cram in some utterly important information.
I never watch or consume American news. I very quickly grew tired of the talking heads, strongly biased views, selective withholding of stories and hype that became so overwhelming. Instead, both because I consider them to be (far) more neutral, reasonable and factual, and because I had an interest in continuing to follow British news after moving to the States, I rely heavily on the BBC for my news.
The thing that irks me the most about American news is that it’s just not news. To me, news is a factual, neutral reporting of events that are of importance to society. What most of us now know as news has devolved into highly-pointed delivery of largely irrelevant stories which have been spun into hyper-dramatic segments that don’t particularly focus on what happened and what its implications are, but rather create situations, possibilities, hypotheticals and outright lies that draw in the drama-hungry American audience. Continue reading “When did the news stop becoming the news?”
I’ve written many posts on this subject (e.g. The sad state of maternity leave in the States) because I’m very passionate about it, but I just saw another great TED talk which drives the point home some more.
Maternity/paternity leave is not something that we should be thankful for. It’s a fundamental need for new parents to bond with their children and recover from birth. It promotes the wellbeing of mother and child, reduces post-natal depression and gives mothers the support they need to make it through the early days of raising a child and be able to choose whether or not to have another child without being forced to stop at 1 because they had such a horrendous experience or because it cost them so much to do the only thing they could to spend a little time with their newborn child: take unpaid leave.
As highlighted in the talk, there are 9 countries in the world that have no national requirement for paid maternity leave. The first 8 have a combined population of 8 million and include countries like Papua New Guinea, Suriname and the Marshall Islands. The 9th is the United States with a population of 320 million. How the United States can continue to claim that it would be such a burden on employers or the state is beyond me. Literally everyone else has done it: stop hiding behind this bullshit America and give new mothers the paid leave they need.
Hilary Cottam’s approach to social services is akin to “it takes a village to raise a child”. The more that can participate, the better it is for everyone. Her model sees everyone helping one another to practically and positively change the lives of those most in need.
This TED talk from an entrepreneurial front-line social worker in the UK gives a very considered and honest discussion of how the modern welfare state was created (in 1940s Britain) and how it simply isn’t a model for today.
Rather than just bash the system, as we all love to do, Hilary Cottam has come up with a radical new approach to social services in which resources are spent directly on helping people rather than on a system which manages said people. In fact, by spending far less, she’s been able to make significant positive changes in the lives of many people in South London who are all now helping one another. Continue reading “Social services suck, but we can fix them AND save money”
As a middle-class white man in America, it can be easy to think that society is equal but that’s because I can be invisible to my privilege
In a recent TED talk by Michael Kimmel he talks about how he came to see the world from the point of view of minorities such as women or black people. In a discussion with some of his peers he came to the conclusion that
Privilege is invisible to those who have it
He was talking about how as a white middle-class man, he was about as privileged as he could be, but he didn’t see the world that way because he saw how opportunities were being provided to women and racial minorities all around him. The experience of women and black people was different however, who still saw the world around them as it oppressed them.
As someone privileged he didn’t know what it felt like to be stared at by men all day long or looked over because of the colour of his skin. And he has a good point. As a middle-class white man in America I’m about as privileged as they come and while I acknowledge that opportunities have never been more equal, I don’t know the struggle of what it means to be female or black or gay or Muslim. Let Michael explain it better than I can and pause to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and resolve to make the world more equal.