How do we react to attacks like this?

Having been stuck away in meetings for most of the day, it was several hours after the event that I learned about the tragic and horrifying attack in London. Like many others, I've walked those same pavements and courtyard both in my 'day job' and as a visiting tourist. It was their familiarity that somehow made it worse. Nearly a week later, we’re told the UK-born perpetrator acted alone and that his motivation is still unclear. Not that this stopped speculation. For some it was an excuse to wilfully misrepresent earlier comments by London mayor Sadiq Khan who had urged public vigilance in the face of terrorism risks that beset big city life. My attempts on social media to highlight thi

The state of the union

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks for Theresa May. Compared to other events associated with the Ides of March, last Wednesday was pretty tame. Nonetheless, the daggers were definitely out for the prime minister. First was the mortifying PM’s question time where she had to explain how the government had “listened to people” – presumably that meant people who’d read the Conservative manifesto – and would not be hiking national insurance contributions for the self-employed after all. It didn’t come as much of a surprise. Lacklustre sophistry and anonymous statements by Downing street neighbours as to which of them had screwed up had already moved on to comments about "upholding the spirit

The budget pledge that never was

No-one was seriously expecting a give-away budget from Chancellor Phil Hammond last week and that’s probably just as well. He may have lived down to overall expectations, but give the man some credit. After all, it takes a special skill-set to map out the nation’s economic future without ever once mentioning Brexit. Where ingenuity deserted him though was in assuming a hike in national insurance payments affecting 2.5 million self-employed would go through without too much hassle. The ill-considered action was later described as merely a ‘rookie mistake’ by a predecessor. Then again, we’re talking about Norman Lamont who once famously invoked Edith Piaf (‘Je ne regrette rien’) to disparage

Rise of the robots: pain or gain?

The invitation to a private seminar on eco-robotics sounded cool. What I wasn’t anticipating was to emerge feeling so damned depressed about the future. The message from the geeks was: forget globalisation, the biggest threat to future employment is rampant automation. OK, you have only to lift the bonnet of your car to be confronted by the ‘progress’ made in ending human interference. Engine management systems armed with in-built diagnostics now run the show. But is it really that bad? What the seminar highlighted is that it’s not just in manufacturing where the flashy tech stuff is taking over. Trained radiologists in some part of the USA have found themselves ‘supplemented’ by computers c

Weekly Column

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