Category Archives: Politics

Fully Automated Luxury … Dancing?  (A futuristic conspiracy theory)

Fully Automated Luxury … Dancing? (A futuristic conspiracy theory in the making)

Vic Grout, Professor of Computing Futures, Wrexham Glyndŵr University

Download the PDF version: Fully Automated Luxury Dancing – Download Version 1

[Note/Disclaimer: Some of the discussion in this piece is shockingly brief. A limit of 10,000 words was planned and (just) adhered to.]

We’ve encountered Michael Moorcock’s masterpiece, Dancers at the End of Time, before on these pages: both as an example of sci-fi doing what it does best (providing a blank canvas for a bigger discussion) and the problems futurologists have with not seeing key disruptive technology (the Internet, in Moorcock’s case).  But, for this post, an entirely different question to ponder: who exactly ARE ‘The Dancers’?

Because answering that puzzle (there aren’t that many clues to go on in the novel itself and obviously it is only a story) takes us to considering problems in (apparently) entirely different fields: environment, politics, economics, etc. (which is the important point really, of course) and may lead us to a view of the future quite at odds with current thinking right across the political spectrum.  Specifically, what’s usually wrong with long-term ‘futuristic’ political and economic prophesising?  Particularly the very well-intentioned left-wing stuff.  What’s the one thing that everything from Karl Marx’s Das Capital to Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism appear to take for granted?  (Spoiler alert: in simple terms it’s the belief that just because a political/economic system’s crap, it will naturally yield to something better – but we’ll come to that.)

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Llangollen Fringe 2020 Climate Summit

I was pleased to be asked to be a member of the Llangollen Fringe 2020 Climate Summit panel this month

You can see the recorded video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoGa4XqHzZs

(It doesn’t really get going until about 11 minutes in!)

The full ‘line-up’ was:

  • Documentary Filmmaker, Bruce Parry: best known for his BBC series Tribe which saw him living with indigenous peoples around the world, and thereafter his work focusing on globalisation and climate change. More recently Bruce switched from television to the big screen with his directorial debut, ’Tawai, a voice from the forest’ – his attempt to dive deeper into the heart of what he had learned on his many years travelling the world. Bruce screened this film at the Llangollen Fringe Festival 2019.
  • Deputy Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn MS
  • Kate Hamilton, Director of Renew Wales
  • Jessica Lloyd-Jones, Local Visual Artist
  • Me

It was pleasure to be part of the discussion with such a distinguished group!


Effective Age-gating for Online Alcohol Sales (Final Report)

‘Surprised?  No, not really!’

The ‘Effective Age-gating for Online Alcohol Sales’ report, funded by Alcohol Change UK, is published today.  Written by Jess Muirhead and Vic Grout, it considers the question of how easy it is for UK under 18s to purchase alcohol via the Internet, and makes five key recommendations:

Recommendation 1: The law must be clarified

Despite its best intentions, the current law is ambiguous in relation to how and where safeguards are to be applied to prevent under 18s obtaining alcohol online.  If the intention really is to allow age-checking on delivery as a substitute for online verification then that should be published as official guidance by the relevant authorities.  However, knowing such measures to be as ineffective as they are, it is to be hoped that the necessary clarification would move the law in the other direction: that robust online age verification – at the transaction stage – becomes a clear legal requirement.

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Another Week, Another Nonsense Graph from the Government!

So another week passes by with yet more truly awful science from the UK Government

(Yes, it may well be true that the real Covid-19 scientists are working well – and properly – in the background but it’s becoming increasing obvious that ministers in front of the camera either don’t – or won’t – understand what they’re being told.)

This probably sums it up as well as anything could:  https://www.thepoke.co.uk/2020/05/10/boris-johnsons-covid-19-update-speech-went-down-like-a-cough-in-a-lift/ but the focus of this particular post is that graph above.

What the hell is that?

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