Blog Archive

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Siri saves lives, Richard Curtis strikes again, Article 50 Triggered, Quote of the Month

Siri Saves Lives

Have you often wondered whether Siri, Alexa, OK Google and the growing number of virtual assistants can really make a significant difference? The jury may well have still been out on this until the 999 Emergency Services last week released the details of 4 year old boy, Roman, who found his mother unconscious and placed her finger on her iPhone to unlock it and then asked Siri for help. Siri connected him to 999 where he was able to provide his address. The emergency services arrived within 13 minutes and took the woman to hospital where she made a full recovery. It was only at this point that the recordings were released to the press. It is quite possible that she would have died without the Apple technology doing its job so well.

Apple Siri on iPhone

It's hard to argue that AI is not going to play a greater and more significant role in our lives. And rapidly. My Amazon Alexa played April Fool pranks on me today, lets me know the weather, the traffic, my train schedule and full access to Wikipedia (i.e. spoken information about almost anything) and my music. Before long she will be able to manage my diary, my house alarm, heating, lighting, and so on. She can already de-ice and heat up my car for me before I set out in the morning. She is very versatile.

Amazon Alexa

Richard Curtis strikes again for Red Nose day

There was a great deal of criticism in the press around this year's Red Nose day. In case you don't know Red Nose day takes place on the BBC every two years. It is the major event organised by Comic Relief, a British charity founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia. The spoil-sport press have criticised some of the technical glitches (it is a live show), the rude bits before the 9pm watershed, the fact that 'only' £75 million was raised on the night and so on. I actually thought it was the best TV entertainment show I have seen for a long time. The highlight was Richard Curtis' 'sequel' to Love Actually in which he managed to get most of the original stars to play a role, 14 years on from the original film. It was funny, romantic, optimistic and highly topical following the Westminster terror attack 2 days earlier. This piece alone was worth a decent charity donation. Curtis is without a shadow of doubt a genius.

Richard Curtis, writer and director of Love Actually with 2 of the stars 14 years on

Article 50 Triggered

A very sad day for the UK and the EU. Stronger together, weaker apart. At best we will become more insular, less attractive to foreigners and GDP will continue to grow. At worst we will see the break up of the United Kingdom, the demise of the City, the loss of many businesses that will in part re-locate to the EU and lower standards of living for most of us as a result. And as usual it will be the poor who suffer most. We can already see a significant impact and a reduction in living standards from brexit led inflation.

British Ambassador to the EU delivers the letter to Donald Tusk, EU Council President

Already we are seeing drops in foreign student numbers, highly qualified employees leaving the UK or electing not to come in the first place and huge uncertainty from the 3 million EU citizens who live in the UK and on whom we rely in many sectors including restaurants, hotels, the NHS. In the hospitality sector, 24% of employees are from the EU. In hotels it's higher.  I am not optimistic that our government will find solutions and compromises that will keep our Union together and keep our economy buoyant. And whatever the outcome, the next few years will have vast numbers of civil servants dedicating their time and resources to this issue at the expense of other pressing issues that government ought to be resolving.

But my worse fear is that this unnecessary divorce will lead to conflict and even war. The EU was established following the second world war and we have have seen the longest sustained period of peace that Europe has ever known following its creation. I can already see conflict areas building, such as the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - an area which has only seen peace relatively recently - and people have short memories and seem to forget how we used to be at war so often. 

I just hope I am very very wrong.

Quotes of the Month

"We see nothing but good and hope in a richer, freer, more contented European commonality. But we have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not compromised. We are interested and associated but not absorbed."
Winston Churchill 15 February 1930

"We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living."
Winston Churchill 19 September 1946

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