A tale of two centuries

Imagine you were asked in 1919 what the narrative might be for the rest of the 20th century in terms of major developments. You might well have said that cars and planes were going to revolutionise transport and change where and how we lived.  You could have anticipated the radio transforming the way we got our news and were entertained. 

Pushing the envelope, you might have added that pictures would accompany sound one day and captured the idea of television. Unless you had extraordinary powers of foresight, you would not have played a scenario of the rise of computers, the internet and cell phones in the

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

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

Final countdown to climate chaos underway

The flags heralding impending climate chaos are up and waving frantically.

The last thing on our minds whilst driving a car, flying between cities or using grid-supplied electricity, is that our actions are contributing to the global phenomenon of climate change. Unfortunately, we may only take climate change seriously once it's escalated to a point of all-out climate chaos, and by then it'll be too late to reverse it. In fact, there are some people, like Mayer Hillman, who believe that our planet's climate may have already passed a "point of no return". In his recent article, 'The climate reality no-one will dare mention', he laments humanity's

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,