The lovely adorable people of my birth nation have voted to leave the European Union. This debate has been going on so long that when I was really very little I imagined that Britain might be developing terraforming technologies to move itself to the falklands, but back then I thought only women or Hollywood stars were elected to run countries. A week after the referendum it appears our politicians are indeed reenacting a scary science fiction film.
In my pre-referendum blog post I had said that the “British people will muddle through. While complaining.” I also said if we voted out of the European Union I see ourselves “As radical technologists breaking down democratic borders and capitalist structures sat just on the doorstep of a [European] superstate”.
Now is certainly the time to explain my vision. Before I do we need a little a film style back story.
Last February I had an ephipany. Like all good ephipanys it happened while watching the BBC. Politicians, Adam Curtis explains, used to “tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis – leaving us bewildered and disorientated”. You probably thought the referendum campaign and it’s aftermath was written for satirists instead it is random chaos from which Adam will create his next documentary.
The European Superstate
Jonathan Roach coins the phrase “chaos syndrome” and advocates an re-elevation of the political class. Smoke-filled rooms Jonathan says “were good for brokering complex compromises in which nothing was settled until everything was settled”. Watching the MEP’s more closely (my referendum pledge) we find a strong call for more Europe from different European states for very different reasons. I find this view echoed by remaining citizens and my co-workers. Although I voted Remain betting on continued untreated chaos syndrome, my guess now is that while they strap individual nation states to the operating table stable for treatment a chaos free European Superstate will emerge.
The Capitalist Structure – Broken
One has to assume that this European Superstate will continue to reside on our current economy models. At this point I ask you to read Paul Mason who thinks “The End of the Capitalism Has Began”. By all means consume it with a large pitch of salt as Steve Denning did in a Forbes response piece. We will still find ourselves agreeing that our parents way of running businesses are dying as a result of technology. New ways of working are emerging and this change goes beyond technology. It is this middle ground not bashing old capitalist structures but not expecting them to advocate changes in the new economy where I want to focus my energy in a post European Union Britain.
Democratic Borders – Transcended
Sir Martin Sorrel threw up a slide that read Local, Regional, Global. By each word was an arrow. Regional was down. Local and Global were up. Pre-referendum I couldn’t define my ideal democratic (sovereign) region. Camden London, England, Britain, UK ? The rest of UK is just as confused as I am, but it has an impact on the vision. A poll conducted by Lord Ashcroft suggested that if you were English not British you voted to leave. British not English then Remain. In Scotland, remainers (55%) were more likely than leavers (46%) to see themselves as “Scottish not British” or “more Scottish than British”.
The debate about what is local will get much louder in the coming years. Scottish Independence ? Welsh Independence ? For London Independence sign here. All of this reminds me of Taiye Selasi TedGlobal Talk echoing my own history. How can a human come from a concept ? In our life time nations have been born, disappeared or failed. Taiye argues that you could be local in multiple locations. Although I thought that meant Global.
Globalisation for me is a given. We simply can’t in the age of the Internet stop the flow of information across borders and I certainly don’t want to loose access to tropical fruits in the local grocers . So my point is this, the projects I advocate post brexit need to serve the global while being hyper sensitive to the local.
The Agenda – Education and Research
Higher education are about to negotiate what happens to their €8.8b of EU funding and access to important science projects such as European Space Agency or CERN. The British Computing Society has promised to help negotiate and ensure teaching standards don’t drop. In the mean time universities have to rethink the tension between teaching and research aspirations. I would like to see institution completely open up and benefit their entire ‘local’ community.
We need to continue injecting technology learning in school. I am cheering on the BBC Micro:Bit giving every 7 year old technology to play with. BCS along with funding from the DfE will run the CAS Network of Teaching Excellence for another two years, which means computing teachers across England. However all teaching resources should be at everyone’s disposal regardless of age and location.
I urge you to go attend events at a university or run a hack day at your local school. Start the process and help inspire others by writing up what you learn for our global community.
The Technologist Agenda – Nurturing Innovation
Earlier this year a report by the government’s British Business Bank said what anyone creating a start-up already knew. Besides the skills shortage, the sector lacks funding. Rebecca Burn-Callander in the telegraph says that it is “dragging down the UK economy“. Their conclusion; help firms grow their staff numbers beyond 10 people.
Post brexit we need to help these businesses become multinational if they wish. However it is also time to support the micro-business with the single developer, the boot-strapped business, the SEIS qualifying business as well as the business looking for Series A funding. Each is different but needs supporting. Changing the regulator framework to keep pace with the European Superstate, Silicon Valley, India’s Made In India and China is paramount.
We need to lead the way on technology projects that are not commercial or not commercial for long periods of time. In our Charity services we need to make it easier to set up and harder for people to fritter away the cash.
Go make your current technology business work. Make sure your voice is heard. Lobby for the regulatory framework that makes sense. Don’t leave it to others.
The Radical Technologist Agenda – Protecting Sovereignty
On the horizon is The EU General Data Protection Regulation, designed to replace the very different national data regimes and give new powers to data regulators. Businesses will have to obtain clear consent before processing citizens’ information, disclose when data breaches occur, and could be fined for global revenues for abuse of the regime. Couple this with the Draft Communications Data Bill debate. Most people think we shall simply comply by default. A BCS survey asked how does the UK develops personal data regulation to ensure it works for everyone ?
The stunningly beautiful Utrecht’s is running a Basic Income experiment in research with their local university. What happens when everyone is enough cash to eat and place to sleep ? Do they become more or less productive ?
Once we have decoupled wages from work what if all the software and science research in the UK was delivered exclusively through open source licences ? Flooding the EU with great products that compete with the flood of products made available under Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
If we everything is available on a open source licence should each house have a 3d-printer ? Then we can print everything we need and not have to buy anything from our Superstate neighbours ?
Or could we just turn the Tax system into a reality TV show ?
Are these ideas you can campaign for ? At what point are these ideas just plain crazy ? Come tell me, I shall be at Argos buying my 3d printer…
Let’s decide together
Back to work. Long before the referendum my ephipany has resulted in me pivoting my work to ensure all humans are educated to the upper limit of humanities collective ability and that they can pursue their goals as equally as the next human.
Brexit or not, hard soft or fuzzy, I don’t intend to stop working.