The chequered history of Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2020

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The major problem with St Valentine's Day is that nobody is sure who Valentine was or even if a single martyr of that name existed. But for the commercial success of the day, we have neither church nor pope to thank; that honour belongs to Ester Howland.

Posted in: Commentary

The green irony at Davos

January 31, 2020

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It is ironic that the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum has announced that the “transition to a greener and more equal economy is not just possible but imperative for restoring productivity”. Because the members of this private rich boys' club, representatives of the 1% who comprise the apex of the global wealth pyramid, are primarily responsible for the crisis: they are part of the problem, not the solution.

Journalism is more than ‘just a job’

January 22, 2020

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With the explosion of fake news, courtesy of social media, accompanied by mounting attacks, verbal and physical, against journalists, it may be useful to remember what the role of journalists — not bots and trolls — should be and that ethical journalism still survives. In this context, in South Africa, it is worth remembering how journalism (the work of journalists) brought to light the whole disgusting state capture venture.

Posted in: Commentary

Strap in — it’s the rise of the machines

January 21, 2020

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Artificial Intelligence and the technology employing it is not our enemy; it is who controls it and to what end that will determine whether humanity benefits or finds itself in the sort of dystopian world only imagine4d by the most pessimistic speculative fiction writers. The technology now being developed, displaces human labour; it does not (as in previous industrial revolutions) provide machines that make human labour more productive. It has never been more imperative for working people to take democratic control and perhaop liuberate humanity.

2020: Tumult lies ahead — but hope too

January 17, 2020

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Hope for the future lies in placing the massive advances in technology and AI under democratic, accountable and transparent control. Failure to do so could result in a dystopian future that only the most pessimistic of speculative fiction writers have imagined.

Time to stop thinking & acting in silos

December 15, 2019

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If wishes were dinners, the hungry would eat. It's a variation on an old Scottish proverb about beggars and horses, but it seems worth bearing in mind as this year draws quite grimly to a close. Because wishes and hopes are, in themselves, futile at a time when clarity of thought and analysis, followed by appropriate action is called for.

Journalism & the media: time to be afraid, very afraid

December 2, 2019

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Honest, evidence-based journalism is under increasing pressure, especially with so many media outlets compromised or captured. South African provides classic examples and reasons why fulsome support should be given to the fight for continued — and expanded — access to information.