Skip to main content

Posts

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…
Recent posts

A Matter of Drones - Simon Moores for The Guardian

I have a drone on my airfield” – a statement that welcomes passengers to the latest dimension in air-travel disruption. Words of despair from the chief operating officer of Gatwick airport in the busiest travel week of the year. Elsewhere, many thousands of stranded and inconvenienced passengers turned in frustration to social media in an expression of crowd-sourced outrage.

How could this happen? Why is it still happening over 12 hours after Gatwick’s runways were closed to aircraft, why is an intruder drone – or even two of them – suspended in the bright blue sky above the airport, apparently visible to security staff and police who remain quite unable to locate its source of radio control?

Meanwhile, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, overtaken by both the technology and events, is reduced to sending out desperate tweets warning that an airport incursion is a criminal offence and that drone users should follow their new code of conduct. Yet this is not an unforeseen event. It was i…

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…

GDPR - It's Now or Never?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union privacy law which will establish a global standard for both the collection and use of data online. It will ensure that all personal data has to be managed in a safe and secure way, has to be gathered lawfully, is only used for the purposes for which it was collected, and must be accurate and up to date. When the law comes into force in May this year, companies doing business in the 28-member states will have to accommodate rigorous opt-in, privacy and data transparency policies or face fines of up to 4% of their total revenues.
The problem for business with any regulation coming from Europe has always been a compliance burden which many smaller companies struggle to achieve. In a climate of increasing information risk; an area in which I specialise, businesses know that they have a better than 60% chance of a data breach, as high as 80% in some geographies, given the sophistication of the powerful criminal hacking tool…

The Gateway to Space

I was asked to give a talk on the future at Goonhilly Earth Station by Superfast Broadband Cornwall and here are a few clips.

The high point of the day for me, was a tour of the facility and it's control room, controlling a selection of communications satellites whizzing around in earth orbit, hundred of miles above me.

I was equally impressed by the length and quality of the local Cornish beards on display and have been inspired to grow one of my own over the Xmas holiday!

Thanks for the great hospitality and a fascinating day.



Thoughts on Chess and AI

In 1997, Gary Kasparov, one of history’s most gifted chess players, lost to Deep Blue, a $10 million specialized supercomputer programmed by a team from IBM. When I met Gary over dinner one night in London in 2001, I don’t think even he would have predicted how far and how fast the related fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning would develop in the twenty years since that match; moving beyond Chess, to Atari arcade games and finally the greatest board game challenge of them all, the game of Go.

It was Soviet mathematician and computer scientist, Alexander Kronrod’s idea that “chess is the Drosophila of artificial intelligence.” In other words, looking at chess is one way to make sense of the broader picture, just as the humble fruit fly has helped us decipher human genetics.

In today’s big data world, AI and machine learning applications already analyze massive amounts of structured and unstructured data and produce valuable insights in a fraction of the time.  A chess…