What self-checkouts tell us about the future of work


If you want to know what the future of work looks like just visit your nearest Tesco. Or Morrisons. Or any other supermarket with self-checkout machines. When they first appeared these schoolmarmish devices had a certain novelty cachet – at least to someone like me, who regularly buys ‘special edition’ chocolate bars in the hope…

Continue reading

How basic income could help anyone become an artist


In Martin Amis’s short story Career Move, the literary world is turned on its head. Screenplay writers struggle to get their work published in small magazines, while poets are courted by Hollywood producers and enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. It’s funny because we all know poets are more likely to be found shivering in a garret…

Continue reading

Traffic lights for smombies won’t solve the distracted walking problem


Smombies – a.k.a ‘smartphone zombies’ – are now a familiar sight in most cities. While they lack the outstretched arms and love of brains that typifies the undead, they have their own distinctive characteristics: a slow, meandering gait, permanently bowed head and glazed, otherworldly expression. They attempt to navigate complex urban environments with their peripheral…

Continue reading

Are child GPS trackers ruining childhood?


Kids, ey? Let them out of your sight for one second and they’re scrambling up trees like hairless monkeys or kicking a poor defenceless ball down the street. And what’s with all the secret hideouts and special handshakes? Very suspicious if you ask me. For all we know they could be plotting to take over…

Continue reading

Should we be worried about virtual reality addiction?


I can vividly remember the first time I experienced virtual reality. The year was 1997, and the place was The Base nightclub in East Grinstead. It was nappy night. The coke-a-cola was flowing like wine, and happy hardcore – the Poundland of dance music sub-genres – was blasting from the club’s sound system. Through the…

Continue reading

Google’s internet balloons may come with a hidden cost


Loon balloons. When I first heard the name I assumed they were the sort of thing one occasionally stumbles across on Amazon, sold by a merchant who specialises in VR goggles for dogs. In other words the kind of pointless, badly-made dross that people with itchy click-fingers buy as stocking fillers for their long-suffering spouse. But no.…

Continue reading

Why isn’t there more concern about the snooper’s charter?


The nuanced online cries of “WAKE UP PEOPLE! WE ARE LIVING IN 1984!!!!!” and “BIG BRUV IS 4 REAL” that followed Theresa’s May’s presentation of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill to MPs are somewhat off the mark. We’re not yet living in a world that resembles a boot stamping on the face of humanity, forever.…

Continue reading