I write a weekly column for The Daily Telegraph, and my work regularly appears at Unherd and Spiked! My writing asks: why do we make machines magical, and why do we insist humans are just faulty machines?
I helped grow the technology news site The Register from a staff of four to a the UK’s most successful technology news publication, with over forty employees. For seven years (to 2006) I covered technology from San Francisco, as West Coast Bureau Chief then US Editor. In the 1990s, I wrote regularly for Private Eye, having started my own investigative magazine in Manchester, called Badpress. Before journalism, I worked as 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 hold a short on “Artificial Intelligence” (sic), and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. Invited to give oral evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee enquiry on Artifical Intelligence (2017-2018), I was the only sceptical voice.
My research ranges from competition policy to the philosophy of computing, encompassing subjects such as behaviourism and techno-utopian cults. The latter informed Adam Curtis’ BBC series All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (2011), for which I was Associate Producer.