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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…
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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…

A Day at The Shard

One of those days in a lifetime to remember.
Today, I had to fly a banner around London’s iconic landmark, The Shard.

The occasion was a marriage ceremony at the top of the building. Sonya and Paul were having their big day, courtesy of the ITV, ‘This Morning’ programme, and I had to cap-it-off with a large programme logo, followed by a ‘Just married’ message with a large red heart, at exactly 12:18. The public and clients really don’t understand what a significant challenge placing an aircraft over central London involves. Why would they? Other than the simple logistics of the aircraft - it has to be a twin-engine - crew and ground crew, one has to gain the permission of NATS at Swanwick, Heathrow, Special Branch and quite possibly even the Archbishop of Westminster. London is now an intense security space and the authorities are somewhat ‘twitchy’ at the thought of any non-scheduled aviation activity inside it’s tightly policed borders. Bringing the plan together, involved borrowing the…

Nothing New Here Folks

“Parliament leaks like a sieve.” - That takes me all the way back to a weblog entry in 2002.

News today that the emails of Members of Parliament may have been compromised, stolen, hacked; you name it, comes as no great surprise. In fifteen years or more since I was invited in to discuss a similar problem with Parliament’s head of security, a former police officer, I somehow doubt very much has changed.

MPs were reportedly informed about the hack on Friday night and later told of difficulties in accessing their emails away from the Westminster estate.

The issue, I think we need to grasp, is that there’s a big difference between the .GSI, the Government Secure Internet and the personal email of Members of Parliament. In my time, one was built to be secure and the other assumed, that much like herding cats, the communications of MPs was intrinsically insecure; much, I discovered, like that of local councillors, during my brief foray into politics.

However, what is likely to be substantive…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …