A Paperclip Civilisation

There’s a tale that engineers tell their children before bedtime, to scare them into behaving themselves. It originates in a 2003 paper by the philosopher Nick Bostrom, Ethical Issues in Advanced Artifical Intelligence: The risks in developing superintelligence include the risk of failure to give…

In praise of death

This isn’t meant to be depressing, but you’ll probably find it a little depressing. You’ll find it depressing because by nature and nurture you are inclined to avoid thinking about death as nothing better than a curse, a cross that humanity must bear. Stop for…

The hills were alive with the sound of 2016

I watch a lot of films. Technically it counts as work because I also write screenplays. None of my screenplays have ever been produced because I spend too much time watching films instead of working on my screenplays. Ironic, eh? This is not a list…

Fallacies of Dissent

Some of us look at the outrage sparked by Donald Trump’s policies, and wonder why the same outrage wasn’t expressed when Barack Obama pursued similar policies. Obama’s expansion of surveillance powers, increased use of assassination, and refusal to accept a proportionate number of Syrian refugees;…

Swimming against Brexit

Serbia’s main broadsheet newspaper Politika asked me to write something about Brexit. Since the article was published a) two weeks ago, b) in Serbian, and c) only in hard copy, I don’t think anybody will be too worried if I publish the English language version…

Becalmed in British waters

Today my home country votes on its future. It feels strange to type that phrase “home country”, because I haven’t lived there on a permanent basis for a long time; for so long, in fact, that I am not allowed to take part in that…

How do we get from here to there? The Futures of Humanitarianism

Crossposted at Medium.com. In the last ten years there has been a small explosion of forecasts seeking to identify the major trends that will affect relief and development organisations, and to describe how those organisations might prepare to address those trends. Most of these reports…

Beating Hindsight: Forecasting for Humanitarian Planning and Preparedness

Why is the future important? All human endeavours are based on forecasting, i.e. attempts to narrow down possible future outcomes to a manageable range. We generally find forecasting extremely challenging due to psychological biases and cultural conditioning, but recent research has shown that better forecasting…

the small print

Originally shortlisted for SFX magazine’s The Writing Dead competition last year, I tag this short story as “John Grisham with zombie subcontractors”, but feel free to disagree. I started working at the Where Value Corporation on the same day that my first wife died. I…