The value of a south facing roof

I was very struck today, as I whizzed through the countryside in a Newcastle-bound train, by the number of south-facing roofs bearing solar panels. I wonder how long it will be before we start detecting a difference in value depending on the orientation of houses. And how long before new builds start to align like […]

Osborne wants to pay the drug companies rather than tackle the antibiotics problem at source

George Osborne has warned that antibiotic resistance is becoming such a serious problem that it will eclipse cancer as a cause of death worldwide by 2050. According to The Guardian “Osborne will warn of an enormous economic cost, which could cut global GDP by 3.5%, a cumulative cost of $100bn (£70bn). The chancellor will say: […]

The future is coming faster than we think

 I’ve just finished belatedly reading An Optimist’s Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson. I say “belatedly” as it was written in 2011 which wouldn’t normally be a problem except that this is about accelerating future technologies (and why they are going to be good for us). It was a very good read, but already there […]

Bots are a transitional technology

Yesterday Facebook announced, as predicted, the launch of a range of tools to facilitate the development of “bots” on its Messenger platform. The argument being made far and wide is that bots are a replacement for apps which have become so numerous that their usefulness to users is plunging and most developers are no longer making […]

Why Musk will get it right with the Tesla 3

  Tesla made headlines last week when the launch of the much-awaited Tesla 3, the economy-priced electric car for the masses, garnered 325,000 pre-orders at $1,000 a pop in the very first week. Some are pointing out that Tesla has missed a lot of deadlines along the way and that the success of the 3 is […]

The era of emulation and what it means for us

What is the next phase for humanity? Robin Hanson set out to answer this question in a thought-provoking and lively talk to London Futurists on March 19th. He argues that humanity has been through several distinct economic growth phases each of which has been “exponential” in character. The first lasted nearly 200,000 years from the moment Homo Sapiens first emerged […]

More promise for solar breakthroughs

The 3D solar towers being developed by MIT illustrate just how much further we have to go in stretching the still new technology of solar power. These experimental towers are up to 20 times as efficient as today’s flat roof panels. If the British Government needed any further evidence that the plans for Hinkley Point are misguided, […]

Future Shock

There was a very perceptive article in the current issue of the Economist which argued, basically, that Moore’s Law is in sight of breaking down. The result, though, is maybe not what you might think. Progress may not necessarily just get slower; it is more likely to be much, much more unpredictable. The reasons, according to the […]

The industries of the future

The question Alec Ross set out to answer at the RSA today was: “If the last 25 years shaped by Internet, what comes next?”  His book The Industries of the Future addresses the question more fully, but for the audience today he focussed on two examples: robots and AI, and genomics. He began, though, with central […]

Loss aversion and the EU referendum

Given the prevalence of the “loss aversion” cognitive bias, it should in theory be highly unlikely that the British population votes to leave the EU. As a refresher, here’s how Wikipedia defines it: In economics and decision theory, loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Most studies suggest that losses are twice […]