Technology needs to be much, much better. My writing explores how, with two preoccupations: why do we make machines magical, and why do we insist humans are just faulty machines?
I helped grow The Register from a staff of four to a the UK’s most successful news publication, with over forty employees. For seven years (to 2006) I covered technology from San Francisco, as West Coast Bureau Chief, and US Editor. Before that I wrote regularly for Private Eye, and started my own investigative magazine in Manchester, Badpress. Before that, I was a software engineer on mission critical systems.
I was the first journalist to report on, and warn of, the social and economic power of today’s platforms, before Google had even floated in 2004. I was also the first writer to describe the “Balkanisation” of the internet into hermetically sealed silos of opinion, something now called the filter bubble. And also the first to criticise the influence of Wikipedia – asking: “is this the best humanity can do?” I’m currently Short on “Artificial Intelligence” (sic), and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. I was the only critical voice invited to give oral evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee enquiry on Artifical Intelligence (2017-2018).
My research ranges from competition policy to the philosophy of computing, encompassing subjects such as behaviourism and techno-utopian cults. The latter informed the BBC series All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (2011), for which I was Associate Producer.
In 2019, I fulfilled a long-time ambition to create Think of X, a new research network. You can find it here.
A good place to dive in is my Talks