Thought Pieces

Rise of the machines: has technology evolved beyond our control?

Monday, 18 June 2018

The Guardian
James Bridle

The voice-activated gadget in the corner of your bedroom suddenly laughs maniacally, and sends a recording of your pillow talk to a colleague. The clip of Peppa Pig your toddler is watching on YouTube unexpectedly descends into bloodletting and death. The social network you use to keep in touch with old school friends turns out to be influencing elections and fomenting coups.

Something strange has happened to our way of thinking – and as a result, even stranger things are happening to the world. We have come to believe that everything is computable and can be resolved by the application of new technologies. But these technologies are not neutral facilitators: they embody our politics and biases, they extend beyond the boundaries of nations and legal jurisdictions and increasingly exceed the understanding of even their creators. As a result, we understand less and less about the world as these powerful technologies assume more control over our everyday lives.

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Ideas and Institutions – A Growth Story Speech by Andrew G Haldane, Chief Economist Bank of England, University of Oxford

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Bank of England
Andrew G Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England

The story of growth is a story with two “i”s – ideas and institutions. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will expand the range of ideas, perhaps more than any of its predecessors. It may also expand the range of workers who suffer its side-effects, perhaps more so than any of its predecessors. In the past, new institutions have emerged to cushion this painful transition, limiting the recessionary hit to societies. Historically, doing so appears to have held the key to sustainable growth.

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Unskilled and highly skilled are doing well, not so those in the middle

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Australian
Bernard Salt

Parents take note: the growth area in jobs is for knowledge workers.

There are few more important parts of the census than the questions that relate to work. And the reason is simple enough. For many Australians, quality of life is largely determined by the income-effort equation that comes with work. The more skilled a person is, the higher the income; the less skilled, the lower the income.

The boffins at the Australian Bureau of Statistics have classified all 1300 occupations that comprise the Australian workforce into five skill levels.

The highest requires years of technical and/or academic training and includes, for example, doctor and engineer. The lowest requires no formal training and includes, for example, cleaner and sales assistant.

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How unequal? Insights on inequality

Friday, 27 April 2018


Australia has experienced its longest period of economic growth in history during the last quarter century. Yet, there is growing debate about the benefits of this economic growth and their distribution, and the extent to which inequality is increasing in Australia.
These are important issues because significant inequality can weigh on future economic performance and undermine social cohesion.
CEDA’s report How unequal? Insights on inequality aims to examine:

  • The distribution of benefits from Australia’s prolonged period of economic growth
  • whether inequality has increased in Australia during this period
  • where policy interventions could assist.

In particular, the report looks at the impact of key factors such as education, employment and location on inequality.
It also examines intergenerational inequality and potential drivers of increased inequality in the future, from technology advances to changes to traditional employment through the emergence of, for example, the gig economy

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Ci2017: A Post-Conference Policy Directions and Reflections Paper for Australia’s Future

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Prepared by Terry Barnes
Policy consultant and media commentator

For three days in November 2017, people from around the world gathered in Melbourne for the latest in the Creative Innovation conference series, Ci2017.

Over 600 delegates and more than 40 speakers joined together at the Sofitel Melbourne On Collins. They came from business, government, academia, not-for-profit organisations, the media and the arts. Over 15 nationalities were represented, and all were treated to a challenge to the mind, to the senses and to the world in which we live.

The theme of Ci2017 was Human Intelligence 2.0: Thriving in the Age of Acceleration. And from the start it was clear to everyone that the future is accelerating at a startling rate.
Moore’s Law of computing says that computing power doubles every two years. In 1982, Buckminister Fuller outlined his knowledge doubling curve: until the 20th century, human knowledge doubled every century; by 1945 it doubled every 25 years; and by 1982 every 12 months. Now, IBM predicts that, because of the “Internet of Things”, human knowledge will double every 12 hours.

Read the Ci2017 Policy Directions and Reflections Paper (PDF)

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The Harm in Merely Knowing: Privacy, Complicity, Surveillance, and the Self

Monday, 16 April 2018

Robert H. Sloan
University of Illinois at Chicago

Richard Warner
Chicago-Kent College of Law


Current critiques of governmental surveillance focus on the government’s use of information to discourage and prevent behavior of which it disapproves. We focus on what the government knows, not on how it uses what it knows. We argue that massive governmental knowing puts at risk people’s ability to realize those aspects of themselves with which they identify and which they think of as constituting their identity. This is a current, ongoing harm that most people now suffer. The argument in outline: Adequate self-realization requires adequate privacy in public. Adequate privacy in public requires that people voluntarily limit their knowledge of each other as they interact. That requires constant and complex coordination. Shared informational norms facilitate that coordination. Governmental surveillance can, and does, undermine the norm-based coordination on which privacy in public depends and thereby undermines prospects for self-realization.

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