Your algorithmic future: weapons of maths creation and destruction

Your algorithmic future: weapons of maths creation and destruction

Science Fiction writer William Gibson said “The future is already here, it’s just not widely distributed.” When you look around you can see the truth of that statement. Most of the technologies that will influence us over the next few decades already exists. In many ways it feels like we’re living in parts of that future. We can 3-D print replacement jaws for people. And 3D printing was invented over 30 years ago. In NDRC, where I work, we have companies working on embedded sensors for post operative bleed detection, and working on helping kids with focusing and ADHD problems through neuro-feedback game play. [1]  In many ways technology is enriching our lives. In reality the title of this piece is less ‘Our Algorithmic Future’ than ‘Our Algorithmic Present’. As a technophile that’s very exciting. I have a deep and abiding love of science and the wonderful possibility of technology. I grew up reading Isaac Asimov (his science and his fiction), Arthur C Clarke and Carl Sagan. And watching Star Trek, Tomorrow’s World and other optimistic visions of technology and the future. At the same time there is a darker side to technology. Paul Erlich said “To err is human, to really foul things up requires a computer.” It’s not hard to find examples. California released 450 high-risk, violent prisoners, on an unsuspecting public in 2011, due to a mistake in its computer programming. ‘We-connect’ an app based vibrator which captures the date and time of each use and the selected vibration settings, and transmits the data — along with the users’ personal email address — to its servers...
Thankful for 2016 as 2017 dawns

Thankful for 2016 as 2017 dawns

In 2016… I started a new role and helped fund some great companies. Worked with some great founders and some really amazing colleagues. Spent time with people. Some of whom I met through Twitter and met physically for the first time in 2016. Spent time in Hay on Wye in the glorious sunshine with some good friends. Helped a smart man run a Coder Dojo program. Spoke at some conferences Úll and Predict and went back to Congregation. Read some books but not enough. Learned much. Ran too little. Talked to a robot. Buried a Guinea Pig. Explored. Pushed boundaries. Waded a bog. Drank tea with many good people. And realised I need to drink tea with many more. Warned people about a vampire. Fought battles. Won most. Ate breakfast overlooking the sea in Baltimore. Walked where the Tuatha De Danann fought. Played board games with some wonderful people. Broke bread with others. Watched the sun come up and go down in Dublin and Wicklow and Kerry and Cork and Mayo and Galway and Tipperary. I said goodbye to some people. None of whom was famous but some of whom had a very big impact on me personally. Walked with my children as they grew and flourished, saw them learn and sail, and shout and smile and cry and grow. Loved my wife and realised how lucky I am. Here’s to 2017 To more running, more friends and more family memories, To hopefully fewer guinea pig funerals, and fewer other funerals, And to breaking bread, and a chat and a cup of tea with...

Note to self

I’ve just taken up a role as Venture Leader in NDRC. My 11yo describes it as “being a talent scout for technology” and a friend called it “being a matchmaker”.  I think the combined description is a good start. As a note to self I’ll remind myself of something I borrowed from Rowan Manahan and quoted first 6 year ago. Still true. Still part of the plan Follow your passion Find playmates smarter than you are Solve important problems Share your toys Build tools Make...

Sometime more than 140 characters are needed

Sometimes you can say a lot in 140 characters. Sometimes you can’t. There were two tweets on Friday night. Close to each other tied to the attacks in Paris. I tweeted These are the days I don’t miss Storyful. — Dermot Casey (@dermotcasey) November 14, 2015 And my friend and former Storyful colleague Paul tweeted Moments like this I wish I still worked for @Storyful. Hard to beat a purpose. — Paul Watson (@paulmwatson) November 14, 2015 The contrast caught some people by surprise. So I thought I’d expand on my thoughts. Sometimes more than 140 characters are needed. I love Twitter. It is possibly my favourite piece of technology and I say that as someone who has lived, eaten and breathed technology for more than 20 years. It can be a glorious human sensor network reflecting the pulse of the planet. A learning library, a pub conversation a place of humour or enlightenment. And a wonderful feeding point for information junkies. I was having a quick flick through my timeline on Friday night when I saw news of what was happening in Paris starting to emerge. And then I tweeted that thought. And then I turned twitter off. I turned it off because I have no one close in Paris. There is no information I needed. Nothing I can do to add to or help anyone in Paris and nothing I can add to the story.  There is a small irony as I the first defining moment for me on Twitter was the Mumbai bombings in 2008. Up until then it was an interesting chat room that competed with Jaiku for attention.  Mumbai...
10 Ways that the Websummit is like Disneyland

10 Ways that the Websummit is like Disneyland

I took the kids to Disneyland last year. I was reminded of that experience today. (I skipped that last few Websummits and it’s grown a wee bit since the first one in Bewley’s Hotel in Oct 2009 and the ones in 2010/2011). More or less tongue in cheek Lots of money spent on AI and figuring out how to manage queues still means “there are lots of queues.” The food is overpriced. (Websummit have better overpriced food but it’s still well overpriced). Like Disney bring in your own food (especially if you’re a struggling startup) or go outside for food. Base Pizza will run you €11.50 for best pizza in Dublin and a drink. Or soup in Insomnia even cheaper. You’ll spend a lot of time on your feet walking from attraction to attraction. Its not quite Walt Disney Studios / Disneyland back and forth but its not far off.  The good talks/rides are too short.  You’re just starting to enjoy them when they’re over……. Three days is enough. There’s only so much you can take. While it can be great fun eventually you’re in need of something more substantial. And the same goes for Websummit. The best map of the venue is on paper. You need to pace yourself. It goes from pre-summit breakfast events, through the summit itself to lots and lots of parties. In Disney it was get in early, take a break in the middle of the day and come back refreshed. Some variation of this is probably a good summit plan too. Mickey Mouse makes an appearance. OK no Mouse there was someone with...