Business, Life

What is the investment angle on driverless cars?

For the past three years I have been telling everyone that will listen that driverless cars will arrive within our lifetimes, and that my two-year old daughter won’t need a driving licence.  Today, that vision came a step closer, as the British government signalled that driverless cars would be allowed on British roads from 1st January 2015.  I am absolutely convinced that they will be the biggest technological revolution that the world has seen since the microprocessor, if not the internal combustion engine.

There are of course many legal issues to resolve. Will the driverless cars require a passenger who could step in if necessary? Will that passenger have to be a qualified driver? Who (if anyone) is at fault if a driverless car collides with another vehicle, a child in the road, or a tree? And, for the philosophers out there, if a driverless car has insufficient braking distance to stop in time to prevent it hitting three schoolchildren who have run into the road, would an algorithm tell it to mount the pavement and kill the one adult walking there?

However, I’m an optimist. I think these issues will be resolved. I think this technology will benefit everyone. But my real interest is, who will it benefit most and least. In other words, what is the investment angle? Who will be the unexpected beneficiaries of massively reliable, cheap and on-demand transport? Rural pubs? Leisure facilities for older people? And who to short? NCP and Addison Lee? Arriva?

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Politics

Cummings on Whitehall

Dominic Cummings hits the nail on the head with his comment on ministerial civil servants.

“The poor buggers are caught between structural dysfunction and politicians running around who don’t really know what they’re doing all day or what the purpose of their being in power is. Everyone thinks there’s some moment, like in a James Bond movie, where you open the door and that’s where the really good people are, but there is no door.”

I spent the first half of my time as a civil servant in Whitehall wondering where that door was. Thankfully, there are occasionally outbreaks of competence: I would class the ICB, on which I served, as a good example.

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The view from my window

Brussels, Belgium

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Culture, Life, Media consumption

How to live

Having never read Montaigne, I have thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Bakewell’s excellent biographyHow to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. The book discusses the man and his writings in the historical context, but also in the context of those who later picked up and reacted to his ideas. The result is a fantastic overview of various threads of philosophical thought from antiquity to the present. All this Bakewell presents without high-handedness or complexity. Now for the Essays themselves.

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The view from my window

Rome, Italy

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The view from my window

Ljubljana, Slovenia

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