Category Archives: Technology

Antibiotics are in critical condition: An open culture will help us find alternatives

Here’s a Halloween horror story for you. One of America’s top experts on disease control has just announced that we are now in the post-antibiotic era. Continue reading

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Filed under History, Innovation, Science, Technology

Steampunk Economics and the future of leisure

There’s something repellent about the Conservative Party’s new slogan “For Hardworking People”. I can’t agree with those critics who think it is an empty promise. It reflects the values in which David Cameron believes. It suits the social incentives he is seeking to construct. But while encouraging people to work for their own betterment is unquestionably good, when it comes from the mouth of government it is impossible not to scent cynicism. For hard work is not an end in itself for people – only for a state keen to live off their backs. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, History, Human nature, Liberal education, Politics, Science, Technology

Computer games aren’t art: They are architecture

Computer games are serious business. Grand Theft Auto V took $800m (£497m) in 24 hours this week, a record-breaking achievement that rivals the success of blockbuster films. Warner Brothers’ Man of Steel, the third-best box office earner this year according to Variety, only took in $663m. Some are predicting sales for the latest installment in the Grand Theft Auto series as high as $1bn over the next year. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Business, Innovation, Technology

UK leadership of the international space race isn’t entirely out-of-this-world

Who says the sky has to be the limit? Britain’s space industry has ambitions to become a global leader. The sector’s new growth plan, announced this week, includes establishing a British spaceport within five years. It wants our 6.5 per cent share of the global space market in 2010 to be 8 per cent by 2020. The latter would mean an annual turnover of £19bn in today’s terms, rising to 10 per cent of the anticipated £400bn market by 2030, creating 100,000 new jobs. Continue reading

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Filed under Politics, Science, Technology

All hail the boffin burger: The next step in human nutrition

It would be easy to dismiss the serving of the first lab-grown burger as classic silly season fodder. Yet this is one photo opportunity that really may mark a historic moment, even if most seem to be missing its exact importance. In vitro meat is significant not because it increases menu options for a few Western vegetarians but because it may represent the next great step upwards in global nutrition. Continue reading

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Filed under History, Innovation, Science, Technology

Kickstarting a new relationship between art and business

WHO WANTS to come into space with me? Thanks to Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform, that is not a rhetorical question. I’m backing the Arkyd project, which is seeking $1m to launch a small space telescope into orbit. It has already raised more than $890,000, putting it on course to be fully-funded by its deadline on 30 June. If it hits its target, some time in August 2015 I will upload a digital photo to the Arkyd’s screen, where my image will hang against the backdrop of space as the moment is photographed for posterity. Continue reading

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From Predator to Tacocopter: Why freeing technology from state control releases its peaceful potential

THERE’S nothing scary about having your takeaway delivered by a flying robot. No one lies awake at night because ordinary people are buying ceramic figurines based on their children’s drawings. Yet the extraordinary technologies that make these services real possibilities, drone aircraft and 3D printing, are becoming objects of fear in the public mind. The resulting scramble to regulate is in danger of cutting off two potential consumer revolutions before they even get started. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, Freedom, Politics, Technology

Reinventing the firm: The trailblazers building a new kind of business

THE government’s plans for a more diverse banking sector are looking increasingly threadbare, a reminder that politicians just aren’t very good at discovering or implementing solutions of this kind. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Freedom, History, Human nature, Innovation, Technology

Bitcoin is a lesson in how networks can supercharge innovation economies

BITCOIN has had a turbulent week. This experiment in digital money has yet to prove it can be more than a toy for investors with nerves of steel. But people write off its parabolic rise too easily. Bitcoin’s volatility should make you wary, but its roaring price increases also arguably illustrate how value can exponentially increase as a network grows in size. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Innovation, Technology

The socialist Titanic that punctured the dream of free market zeppelin travel

WHO wants to help me build an airship? The reputation of the free market has a score to settle. Let me explain: blimps, zeppelins, dirigibles – whatever you call them, these stately giants of the sky, grounded since the 1940s, have never lost their hold on our imagination. From Pixar’s Up to the Final Fantasy video games, even if they no longer drift through our skies, they haunt our dreams.

Today, these wonderful machines have a chance to make a comeback, with commercial applications ranging from military surveillance to pipeline-free shipment of natural gas, to the tourism pioneered before the Second World War. But while there are technical hurdles to cross, the real roadblock is the cultural memory of a series of disastrous crashes, most famously that of the Hindenburg. Yet our memory gets the culprit wrong. The early airships were damned not by the limits of their technology, but socialist interference. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, History, Innovation, Politics, Technology