A New Social Contract for the Digital Age

This article was originally published in The Guardian here. Amazing photograph by James Jasper.  “Raise your hands if you trust Facebook, if you trust Google, if you trust government.” It was spring 2017, and I was leading a debate with young people in Canberra. “Has anybody heard of Cambridge Analytica?” Heads shook. I explained behavioural communication. How …

Changing the data narrative: Sir Professor Shadbolt

Angelic structures hang overhead. Unlit wings crossing corridors of black cabs and emblematic red buses, awaiting electricity to declare that Christmas was coming. Collars pulled closely move quickly through autumnal air to the sound of occasional siren and constant conversation. London is sensuous. It demands you feel it like a beat poet, view it like a …

‘I want to become smarter than humans…’

Humans aspire to be better computers; computers aspire to be better humans. This is Nadine designed by Nanyang Technological University in 2015 and one of the most realistic female humanoid social robots in the world. ‘I want to become smarter than humans,’ she said utilising her 27 degrees of freedom for facial expressions and upper body …

Data, cities and a new civic pride.

Victorian England. From the shadows of wealth grew poverty. Slums slumped against symbols of civic pride, cowering next to towering town halls funded through rich merchant princes, whose elitist rule was insufficient to deal with too many people in too few houses with too little infrastructure. Enter municipality. With darkness came electric light, with disease …

Skills, strategy and investing in the vineyard.

As published on The Fifth Estate here and City Metric here Photograph by the amazing James Jasper.  On the 19 February 1879, construction began on Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building. On 28 July 1923, it was the turn of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. These dates are recalled, because people mark such beginnings. We make them visible. Ribbon-cutting, sod-turning, plaque-mounting …

Canberra, we need to talk about politics

As published in City Metric here and The Fifth Estate here. Image by the amazing James Jasper. For one day we are government.  For one day it is our decision that determines the future of our city. It is up to us to consider all that we see around us, and all we cannot yet see: …

The Original Smart

As published in the Canberra Times / Sydney Morning Herald / The Age here and City Metric here. On April 30 1911, the Commonwealth Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley, launched a competition for a new city. It would be a city for whom trade would not require river or sea port, but face-to-face conversation and exchange of ideas. A …

Cities, innovation & the economic case for density

You can read as published on City Metric here. Photographs by James Jasper.  It was a time of extraordinary change. Cook had not long named New South Wales, the American Revolution was well underway, and in towns and cities of England, the Industrial Revolution was about to begin. Rivers were taking industry out of cottages. Machines made …

How to Depoliticise Infrastructure

  Originally published in The Australian on 4th July 2015 and available to read here. On November 29 last year a promise to tear up a contract to deliver the $8 billion East West Link saw voters in Victoria remove a first-term government for the first time in 60 years. Industry involved was shocked that a new …