Photo by Forest Katsch on Unsplash

The Last Long Night

It was winter solstice, the longest night of 2019. The growing days, the new sun, would rise on a world being radically reshaped by a pandemic. That night we banged pots and pans, not in appreciation of NHS workers — that would come later — but standing huddled close around an apple tree in the community orchard. We passed round a communal bowl full of warm cider, oblivious to the contagion risk, and spilled some of it at the roots of the tree. …

The Anthropocene: the world in which we, humans, are the shapers. Or, the world in which the planetary systems seek to rebalance, to preserve, and in doing so combat our exertions. It could be the era in which the planet goes from background to protagonist (or antagonist). It has played this part before, the difference this time is our role in summoning it to the stage.

The Neolithic revolution turned foragers into farmers. Cereals, legumes and then animals were domesticated. Nutrition improved, infant mortality decreased, villages appeared. People built places for symbolic or religious use. Population grew. …

Photo by Joe McDaniel on Unsplash

If propaganda preys on our despair at the complexity of the world, as sociologist Jacques Ellul suggests, artificial intelligence might further prime us for its messages and calls to action.

AI will allow us to solve radically more complex problems, but the way it affects how we build collective models of the world risks leaving us in the dark about the mechanisms behind the solutions. …

Photo by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash

At the intersection of neuroscience and computer science the metaphor of mind as machine is in full swing.

On the one hand we are conceiving of our mind as algorithms and on the other we are building intelligent machines based on the way the mind seems to work.

As part of the understanding of how to build intelligent machines, and protecting themselves from those machines, people are developing ways of tricking algorithms into categorisation errors. The process involved in this deception is known as an adversarial attack, and it may tell us something about how propaganda works on us.


Despite all my fears about data ownership, privacy, algorhythmic addiction, there is one reason I haven’t left facebook: they have my identity. To the extent that who I am is a node in a network, that who I am is revealed through my relationships and connections, who I am is controlled by Facebook. My identity is captured.

If I leave I will loose access to, and the ability to interact with a few organisations whose only channel is facebook and some people who I only connect with through the platform. I will cease to exist to them, they will cease…

Navigating Fake News

I would suggest that to be effective at achieving their outcomes, all groups at some point, need to devise strategies that are based on a truth that closely tracks what is actually happening.

Some fake news is spread as a means of creating coherence within group — allies and group members participate in spreading a particular narrative. But when it comes to coordinating action, all groups have an interest in best approximating reality.

The trick then to navigate this world is to find groups or individuals of a particular viewpoint that are carrying out the coordination…

Millions of years of evolution and a squish ant app fools the frog’s truth detection. photo: PapJeff

(For those who are are interested in discussion, elaboration, and action around these ideas, check out the Facebook Group: Rally Point Alpha and the subreddit: Rally Point Bravo.)

Truth is a useful guide to action and coordination. As an accurate enough reflection of reality, truth provides us with the information necessary to make decisions and take actions that contribute to the achievement of our goals. It is also the basis upon which our cooperation and collaboration with others can take place — we need a shared understanding before we can progress jointly.

But truth, and our connection to this external…

Talk big on nuclear bombs, this is a reality you need to be comfortable with.

Jeremy Corbyn was attacked for not wanting to launch a nuclear attack. When would you launch one?

The trial of Jeremy

Watching the question time with Jeremy Corbyn there were moments that I thought that he had matured immensely as a politician during his bruising stint as party leader.

Then the audience went Nuclear

Corbyn went on the back foot, trying to bat away the question. His accidental rope-a-dope revealed a blood thirsty streak in Conservative voters, but I couldn’t help but feel there is a better answer. So I thought of a better question.

When do you drop the…

This is not democracy . It is Amber Rudd pushing a note to the vicar who is chairing the Hastings and Rye hustings to get him to silence a candidate.

Independent candidate Nicholas Wilson was questioning first her support for the Saudi regime and then for Conservative proposals to abolish the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). This is not democracy.

The SFO is investigating the company of Conservative donor Ayman Asfari — who is big oil lobby (his Petrofac company has been downgraded to junk by Moody’s since investigation began).

Asfari gave £90,000 in December and 5 months later the Conservative…

Hydra Campaign — image

The Conservative party has learned from the last two populist upsets and is deploying a campaign designed to be as noncommital and unaccountable as possible. And, as that backfires, could be preparing to wriggle around democratic principle by readying a rapid leadership replacement.

The Trump and Brexit experiences deployed new kinds of campaign.

Both campaigns understood that what moves people is not numbers and facts, but sentiments, identity, story. Make America Great Again. Take Control. Those ideas resonated deeply with people who felt out of control, people who felt their country was no longer great, no longer sovereign.

While Trump…


Running with bees and youth @thegoldenco .

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store