Day: 26 March 2017
A History and Future of the Rise of the Robots
The automation of work is not a new phenomenon, it has been ineluctably growing for centuries. It’s why watches have second hands and our time is not our own. This essay on the history and future of work from the perspective of an organisational sociologist brings out very clearly both that that future is about social and economic relationships at least as much as it is about technological change and that as the range of activities for which humans are an essential part of production continues to shrink, we are going to have to find different ways of spending and valuing time.
Why Don’t More UIs Use Accelerometers?
Easing the friction which gets in the way of people interacting with machines will be an important strand of the trend to automation. The keyboard was optimised for the technology of the nineteenth century and still has its uses, but in many circumstances it’s not a sensible way of interacting. Voice is one obvious option, but it’s not the only one. This short post argues that just tilting a phone and adopting techniques from game design might be another. And it’s still a little bit disappointing that Dasher never made it to the mainstream.
Governments are recklessly putting their heads in the sand about automation
Is the sudden surge of interest in automation a sign that we are on the cusp of major change, or is it another fad which will blow over, leaving everything pretty much unchanged? There are some good reasons for thinking it’s more the former than the latter, but we can’t know for sure. This is partly an argument that people slip too easily into the less threatening assumption, but perhaps more importantly is about the need to plan for uncertainty rather than assuming it away.
Don’t bring policy and delivery closer together – make them the same thing
The desire to close the gap between policy and delivery is not exactly a new one. This post is both an account of what happens when a policy lead is embedded in a delivery team and an argument that moving towards a ‘one team’ approach gets better and cheaper results. Whether it’s helpful to describe the starting point as government being an ‘inexperienced customer’ is arguable, as is the assertion that only delivery people understand user needs, but that doesn’t stop the trajectory being an important one.