Ministers are still mulling how they can collect communications data, and while quite rightly the debate about the ‘Snooper’s Charter’ centres on the threat to individual privacy, opponents also forget the threat such legislation would post for the UK’s economic recovery.
With good reason this Government has prided itself on being the most technologically friendly ever. Be it via the development of Tech City, the Future Fifty, the Enterprise Investment Scheme, reforming intellectual property or even the Entrepreneur Visa – the Government is ensuring that the UK becomes a place where internet-based start ups and established technology companies want to come and do business.
However, there is a risk that all of this good work would unwittingly be undone if we continue to proceed down a route full of unexpected costs and consequences. As successive governments have clamoured to get their hands on citizens’ communications data – it appears little considerations has been given as to how this will adversely affect the blossoming technology and electronic communications sector in the UK which is already worth nearly £55 billion and employs over 460,000 people.
The Comms Data plan — until it was vetoed by Nick Clegg — would have insisted that companies of a certain size collect and store all their customers’ data for a number of years — just in case the police or security services want to access it. This would be at their own expense.
By default the Government will almost certainly prescribe how these large volumes of data are to be collected and stored; which is effectively dictating the architecture which drives so many online companies.
Given the risks of starting up a business, who could blame tech entrepreneurs for re-thinking their decision to base themselves in the UK if these proposals do make it into law, as ministers still hope?
Which free-spirited entrepreneur will want government telling them how to fundamentally structure a key element of their business? Before entering Parliament I started and ran an exhibition and events design company – the parallel would be like the Government dictating to me which tools I could use to design with. Had that been the case, I would have set the company up elsewhere.
The Government has taken significant steps to build the UK’s international reputation for supporting the technology sector; yet risks undermining that by following a set of policies which won’t achieve their intended aims, will cost a significant sum of money, and will put off potential investors and entrepreneurs.
Any Government’s proposals have unforeseen unintended consequences. With the Comms Data proposals, the consequences are all too clear: they will hurt our economic recovery, as well as threaten our privacy.
The sixth biannual EuroNanoForum – which takes place in Dublin this week – is set to “showcase Ireland as a hotbed of nanotechnology research, innovation and investment”, according to Enterprise Ireland’s Dr Liam Brown.
The largest event of the Irish EU presidency, Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, executive director of Ireland’s leading nano-science institute Crann, says the event will be a “major chance for Irish researchers”.
They will seek to attract investment through the European Commission-backed €70 billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework which is being launched in January.
“It’s an opportunity for Irish industry and academia to put themselves in the shop window,” adds O’Brien, who notes that over the past decade, the global market for nano-enabled materials has grown from “from $420 million to almost $300 billion”.
Dr Brown is national delegate for the commission-sponsored Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies programme.
He says the EuroNanoForum 2013 – which begins tomorrow and sees more than 1,400 delegates from across the continent gathering at the Convention Centre for three days of seminars and talks – is important to attract further attention to the opportunities nano-science presents in terms of “computing, health, energy, the environment and many other areas”.
“A lot of that work in those areas is done here. In Ireland we’re ranked sixth in the world per capita in terms of performance in nanotechnology,” Dr Brown tells The Irish Times.
Among the highlights of the event will be a speech from Tapani Ryhänen, who is head of Nokia’s sensor and material technologies laboratory.
He is set to talk about how graphene – a substance which is said to be harder than a diamond yet also incredibly flexible – can help revolutionise the design of mobile communications.
The event coincides with national Nanoweek, which runs until June 21st, celebrating the contribution of nano-science to the economy.
As part of the event, a gala dinner on Wednesday will feature two Irish-based projects vying for the EuroNanoForum Best Project Award.
Dr Syed A M Tofail, from the Materials and Surface Science Institute in the University of Limerick is being recognised for his BioElectricSurface project.
The NanoInteract project from UCD’s Kenneth Dawson and Iseult Lynch is also among the 11 nominations in total which were gathered from dozens of entries throughout Europe.
The BioElectricSurface project successfully demonstrated how “nanotechnology could enable new knowledge critically needed for breakthrough medical device technology”, with Dr Syed already developing durable, washable, photosterilisable MRSA resistant textiles which are currently being licensed.
Meanwhile, the aim of Dawson and Lynch’s NanoInteract research is to ensure that nanotechnologies do not cause inadvertent harm to human or environmental health at any stage of their lifecycle.
On Thursday, the Convention Centre will open its doors to the public for the Nanotech Europe 2013 Magical Materials exhibition, from 9am to 2.30pm.
“Even though the pictures were taken whilst that side of the earth was in darkness, Japan is seen to be glowing bright green. It proves our worst fears are probably true about the extent of radiation emanating from the unfortunate country.”
The Japanese people are very resilient and have lived through incredible hardship over the centuries, and they will surely shrug off this rather radioactive episode as they have done many times before.
“The high levels of radiation that are leaking from Fukushima right now have their advantages. For example if I lose my sushi in a darkened room, I can see it clear as day, even in a closed fridge,” Satsumi Kendo, a physics student from Tokyo told Japanese state radio today.
The problem is simple and complex at the same time. The schooling system is used to turn children into mindless robots and puppets. Most of the children are numbed enough to fit into the lower level jobs at major manufacturing or service corporations. The unwanted children are directed to adjust to incarceration in mental institutions or real prisons. They serve to keep society scared. Then there are the chosen children who get to lead the corporations and governments, to make sure that those in power stay in power.
At the same time, all children have access to advanced technology. Advanced in the sense that it is more complicated than the technology supposedly obsolete. Of course, it is not as advanced as the technology that the elite has to its disposal. Still, the technology available to the masses is of an advanced level. What I worry about is how the masses use the technology. Is there an informed decision made on how to use the technology, or do people just go along with the utility that is advertised the most?
Whatever the case, I breathe a sigh of relief as the ‘Crackberry’ epidemic seems to have come to an end. No more saving babies from getting run over in their stroller as their parents get distracted by a very important ping. No more waiting for some guy to finish crossing the street, after he stopped in the middle of his crossing over to ping back. What has become of them? Did they go back to listening to music on their Ego-phones?
As I compare the possibilities of the technology to how it is being used, I cannot but come to the conclusion that it is only the technology that advances. In other words, I suspect that people are not advancing at all. I have a sinking feeling that society as a whole is not progressing, but regressing. The people at the top might be the only part progressing, while the people designed to be the bottom could not regress fast enough to their liking.
The current ‘chosen ones’ have chosen themselves after progressing into design, as the previous chosen ones started regressing into chaos. All they had to do is band together, and plan the further regression of their previous masters. The schools are programmed to do the first dividing of their perceived enemies through mind-numbing indoctrination. The children get taught to read and write, but it comes with a heavy price. They have to pay for it with their minds. It turns out to be very easy to turn sharp minds dull, but to turn any dull mind sharp is a mammoth job.
All is not hopeless. The school system can be used for good or evil. It does not matter what it is designed to do. As long as everyone goes along with the limiting curriculum, the children will come to be the adults that further regress. Instead, if more and more people start to teach the mandatory curriculum as far as is needed, and add back to the schooling what is missing from it, then the schooling system will not be able to block the progression of the children. The children can be taught to look beyond false authority, and to develop their own minds instead.
So, if the schools do not teach our children to be in control of their own minds, then that leaves the rest of us to do so. That means that we have to free ourselves from our fool-school state of mind first. We simply educate ourselves, and in doing so, we can educate our children. We can all rise above our schooling.