Why you won’t be buying a driverless car any time soon

A great invention they might be, but excitement won’t buy you a driverless car. As always, the political barriers have been overlooked.

In a time of squeezed living standards where increased government borrowing and privately-funded infrastructure have fallen out of favour, it is likely that revolutionary changes to global infrastructure will be opposed from all quarters. Driverless cars could be run off the road.

But perhaps more importantly, there is a real human dimension to this story, lost behind the giddy squeals of tech nerds:

…driverless cars pose existential questions for several important interest groups. By some accounts, there are 10m Americans employed in industries related to driving…

Consider the introduction of autonomous school buses. It would not be practical to roll out autonomous buses across the board instantly – even in the fastest of revolutions, things can be staggered. So imagine the fear and outrage of those parents whose children go first into the driverless death machine. With nothing less than a well-orchestrated campaign, moments like this could easily spiral out of control, halting the entire process.

It is both frustrating and deeply unsurprising that policy makers have failed to recognise any of these obstacles. But just because Zuckerberg and Musk say it’s cool doesn’t make it good policy.

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Huawei Leading The Way

One clear sign that the world economy is moving eastwards: Huawei…

Founded in the late 1980s as a telecommunications company, Huawei moved into smartphones in the late 2000s. By targeting the lower end of the global market, the company has acquired an 8.3% market share, coming in third behind Apple and Samsung. In the first quarter of 2016, it sold 10 million more units than the year before, as Apple saw decreasing sales.

And the secret to that success?

…some 80,000 employees have a direct stake in the company, receiving stock and dividends. Employees can get a greater stake for hard work, as long as they contribute to the company’s success. In a rare act of entrepreneurial charity, founder Ren Zhengfei has retained only 1.4% of his company.

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Technology Won’t Save the NHS

Chief digital disruptor Google is now sticking its teeth into healthcare:

This week, the Royal Free London Foundation Trust signed a five-year deal with Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence unit, to continue the development of a real-time patient data tracking app. The app promises to drastically reduce the time it takes for doctors to respond to patient illnesses in hospital, saving thousands of lives.

While digital technology has the potential to transform healthcare for the better, there are significant organisational challenges to overcome first.

Exciting though all of this is, technology has a troubled relationships with healthcare. Big IT cockups under New Labour suggest that government should focus on organisational change before it jumps heart and soul into AI

Government should ensure common digital standards are used across the NHS, as the Government Digital Service did with GOV.UK. This could involve building them from scratch, but our research suggests that this should only be done where the market does not provide adequate alternatives. Instead, government should procure technologies which are compatible with IT systems across the 10,000 organisations of the NHS. It should aim to buy single technological solutions and use them everywhere.

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