Tag Archives: capitalism

Lost Connections

The morning air was crisp and cold and the wind whistled through the leafless trees.

She shuddered. Not from the weather, from the stark reality that she was outside and still alone.

The smell was what surprised her most. A rich earthy smell in the middle of a town. Nature had taken over and the sterile and faintly industrial smell she remembered had been replaced with the fragrance of wild flowers and weeds.

It’d happened weeks ago and sitting on her own inside her house Hazel had imagined a bustling street of people outside, becoming as desperate for company as she was. Eventually, she’d taken the plunge and for the first time in a long while had stepped through her front door.

The street was deserted.

Where were all the people? Continue reading

Automation: a life of luxury and the death of democracy?

There’s been a fair amount of press coverage lately on the potential for artificial intelligence and robots to take our jobs and how a Universal Basic Income could be part of the solution. Something the Silicon Valley tech-giants are putting their shoulders behind.

Some say that’s a good thing, while others disagree.

The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee report on Civil Law Rules for Robotics “takes the view that in the light of the possible effects on the labour market of robotics and AI a general basic income should be seriously considered, and invites all Member States to do so.”

As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of Universal Basic Income for all sorts of reasons. Not least because it frees us up to live the life we want to and, as far as I can tell, it’s the most credible way to have a capitalist society that allows people to opt-out if they want to.

However, it was the link between major corporations, automation and democracy that struck me most at a gathering of London Futurists where Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams talked about their book, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work.

The argument from the audience that captured my attention went something like this…

With full automation we don’t have to work, but stuff can still be produced for people to buy and economies can still grow.

There’s only a handful of companies that can realise full automation e.g. Google, Amazon, Facebook.

Universal Basic Income is possible in an automated and thriving economy.

And now for the scary bit… the few mega-companies that are generating the profits and controlling the economy will have the ultimate say in how the country runs. It’ll be their shareholders that hold the power. Democracy dies, sold off for a life of doing as you please.

It certainly made me stop and think.

I haven’t changed my mind, but I have developed a little more caution.


photo credit: WanderingtheWorld (www.ChrisFord.com) ‘Bonfire’, United States, New York, The Hamptons via photopin (license)

Reading in the Clock Tower

Recently, I had the privilege of reading the first chapter of my latest novel, Fluence, at Novel London – a literary event with an intimate audience that’s held once a month in different venues around central London. Take a look at the photo above and the video below to get a sense of the location and the lofty position the authors occupied.

It was a significant evening for me in many ways. Partly because it’s the first recording of me reading from Fluence, but also because it was held in the St. Pancras Clock Tower which used to be a dilapidated building and top of my list of places to squat.

Whenever I read in public it always strikes me that although I love reading to an audience, I enjoy signing books and chatting afterwards as much and this was no exception. All in all it was a great event and the readings, the tower, the wine and the audience all added up to a friendly and enthusiastic evening. What more could you ask for?

I hope the first chapter will give you enough of a taste to make you want to read the whole book!