Fox Bytes 11 – the weapons issue

The Game: Strait shooters

If oil is the lifeblood of the Middle East, the Strait of Hormuz is a tourniquet. It is a 3km stretch of water between Iran and the UAE through which most of the Middle East’s sea-transported oil travels every day.  This past week, Iran’s rather tetchy Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) made the Strait their ‘hood, launching a major naval exercise there. IRGC naval exercises in the Strait are nothing new, but they are normally held much later in the year, following a clear announcement beforehand.  As an unwritten rule of the game, other countries bring their navies to

The end of us: A Generation Z scenario

Could humanity end with Generation Z?

One of the first things that we teach pupils on our Growing Foxes programme at schools is that to look forward into the future, you must first look back into the past. You must trace your destiny line from the beginning to the present in order to provide a context for judgements about the future. An old Irish saying agrees with this approach: if you want to find out how to get from A to B, you must first discover where A is. So our opening question to pupils on the course is to consider the three greatest drivers for change that they

Fox Bytes 10 – th€ mon€¥ talk$ i$$u€

The Game: Gas frenemies

Within the portfolio of fossil fuels, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the least contentious form, so there’s a soaring demand for it.  That’s good for Egypt and its former foe, Israel. Earlier this year, Egypt agreed to buy gas from Israel. It made sense because Egypt has liquefaction facilities, Israel does not.  It was also contentious, given their decades of bitter rivalry; not to mention, Egypt has its own reserves of gas. But it was a smart move.  Egypt wants to become a Mediterranean “gas hub”. For that to happen it not only needs to produce, consume, and export gas,

Fox Bytes 9 – the blood and guts issue

The Game: Start up, knocked down

Investment in digital technology is a dangerous game; it is littered with the corpses of startups that stumbled into the ‘kill zone’. For venture capitalists (VCs) who provide the seed funding for high-risk startup tech companies, taking risks is in their blood. The rewards when a startup strikes big are worth it; think Uber and Airbnb. But even seasoned VCs are wary of anything that may be a threat or an opportunity for tech’s dominant players. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, collectively called FAANGs, have both the muscle and mindset to crush or absorb any startup with an

A good break

Technology reminds us that sometimes rules are made to be broken.

The recent appearance of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before the European Parliament reminds us of the company’s founding motto: “Move fast and break things”. It has since become something of a mantra for tech entrepreneurs who believe disruption is key to innovation. Normally, innovation within an industry is incremental; and that industry evolves accordingly. Disruption, on the other hand, unsettles that industry by replacing a defining characteristic with something completely new and more efficient. So, it is both creative and destructive. In a way, disruption is evolution through revolution. The ride-hailing apps Uber, Lyft and Didi

“Not my job”

Sometimes working together is not the right option.

It’s probably fair to say most people don’t like being put on the spot. It demands a prompt awareness of a situation with limited intelligence at hand, being able to synthesise that quickly whilst analysing all the available options, and then displaying confident decision-making. Whereas foxes think like that all the time, because they have to, non-foxes are more comfortable with certainty. It’s why most people put on the spot will simply wing it, hoping no-one will catch them out. But what if winging it could have disastrous consequences for their career? They’d need another option, one that

Noisy wheel

If politics is bare-knuckle boxing, South Africa has a heavyweight champion.

In the game of politics, those fighting for an advantage see anonymity as an enemy - it suggests inactivity or indifference to the needs of the populace. This is especially the case for any leader - they need to be seen to be considered in command. In South Africa, few politicians know this better than Julius Malema, disruptive leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters. It’s fair to say that outside the president, no other politician is a more prominent player in the news. There are reasons for that. Firstly, he is interesting. While

Plug it in, baby!

A corner has been turned in both the transportation and energy games.

Glance back over the history of science fiction and you will find a recurring dream many writers had for the future: flying cars. While vessels packed with people speeding overhead is still an illusion - and that’s probably a good thing - another dream for the daily commute is very real: electric vehicles. And they’ve just turned an important corner, thanks to a large degree by the Chinese dislike for face masks. Pollution is a major problem in Chinese cities, and without the trifles of democratic bureaucracy, the government’s answer has been both swift

AI, Robot?

Robots won’t take over the world while their brains still sit in a box.

At Google’s annual developer conference earlier this month, crowds gasped in awe at an audio recording of someone booking a hair appointment. Now, nerds may make good foxes but they’re hardly slaves to fashion; so why the OMG! with a phone call? The caller was a computer. The demonstration was the unveiling of Google’s latest development in digital assistants - Duplex. An extension to the Google Assistant smartphone app, Duplex provides the app with the ability to call, say, a restaurant, salon, or vehicle repair centre,

Oh, Jerusalem

When a move is more than a move.

Embassies are funny things. Firstly, technically-speaking, they’re not buildings, they’re people. An ‘embassy’ is a permanent official diplomatic delegation, not the building in which they operate. Secondly, the size and seniority of an embassy reflect the importance it places on a foreign country. Thirdly, where an embassy is based speaks volumes. That’s why they’re invariably based in a foreign country’s capital. Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital, although Jerusalem is the spiritual home to the Jewish nation. However, the eastern part of Jerusalem is also home to sites sacred to Christians and Muslims. Read More