A New Look at the Future of Covid-19

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It has now been 7 months since the UK was first locked down due to Covid-19. In that time, we have seen dramatic changes across the nation, shaping the way we are responding to the virus. In an ever changing landscape, the Thursday night clap, Sir Tom Moore’s fundraising efforts and the toilet paper shortages seem a long time ago. Where we were once (relatively) happy to effectively close down the country, the population has become fatigued with lockdown restrictions and unclear messaging from the government, which seems to change its mind arbitrarily each week.

In this podcast, Caroline brings her experience working with the NHS team that manages the supply chain for Covid-19 testing kits around the UK to the table; she is joined by Ian and Ahmed with Georgia as our host.

Behavioural science is at the core of today’s conversation. Messaging is vital during the pandemic but simple tricolons such as ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ and ‘hands, face, space’ have given way to more confusing and varied advice. Part of the problem is that the advice is changing each week and the advice given differs between areas. But the key question really is how to avoid the continuation of this confusion and clarify a situation that is becoming increasingly nuanced without over-simplification.

Of course, behavioural science and messaging are just one aspect to managing the spread of the virus. Track and trace must also live up to expectations, particularly when so much of the messaging emphasises its role. Timing is key for all testing and for it to scale effectively in the future, we need more lab techs to manage the workload as well as faster methods.

Which leads us to the implications of short-term and long-term planning. It is now clear for everyone to see that Covid-19 is not a short term problem and it is fair to assume that there will be pandemics in the future. Though the UK was one of the better prepared nations, we have been hit hard by the pandemic and have the third highest number of recorded coronavirus deaths in the world. There has never been a better time to learn from our experiences, be critical about how we have handled this pandemic and create long-term plans for the future of our health.

Here’s the podcast: Mpeg3 download

** Bonus ** Canaries In The Coal Mine

Tech for good live - Black Lives Matter Special, Canaries In The Coal Mine with Ian Forrester

Our podcast this week is a repost of Tech for Good Live Black Lives Matter Special – Canaries In The Coal Mine with Ian Forrester.

It’s a really interesting conversation about the myriad of ways that technology, including AI, facial recognition and algorithms fail people of colour and actually produce a number of microaggressions against them too.

In their discussion, Ade Adewunmi (Data strategist, FastForwardLabs), David Eastman (Software Developer), Ethar Alali (MD, Axelisys), Vimla Appadoo (Co-Founder, Honey Badger) and host, Ian Forrester discuss the ways in which the government has accepted technology that doesn’t work as well for ethnic minorities as well as the ways a lack of regulation and enforcement can quickly seed technologies that create and double down on systemic bias.

One of the key takeaways from this podcast is the way that empathy – or lack of – can influence the way that technology is developed. Who is the room and the power they are given to speak and make changes matters. Development processes and companies shouldn’t wait for things to go wrong before retroactively correcting their mistakes; they should be seeking the diversity required to ensure that their products are accessible and usable for all. In other words, the user should never have to call out a developer.

You might also find the link with these related news stories a good read too. Home Office drops ‘racist’ algorithm from visa decisions and the A Level Algorithm turn around

We hope you enjoy this podcast and let us know what you think!

Podcast and transcript

The Future of the Futurists Part 2: Politics

Fight today for a a better tomorrow
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

After our future of futurists podcast, we had a few comments asking about our political leanings and the potential for the group to become politically biased. We really wanted to address this because, while politics will always come up at the futurists, we have no intention of turning it into a political group. Instead, we want to create a platform where ideas can be discussed safely and intelligently. No matter where a good idea comes from, if it’s a good idea or an interesting idea, we want to know about it!
We have to stress here that we have never asked our speakers for their political viewpoint before asking them to speak and nor do we plan to. The Manchester Futurists intends to continue to be a neutral platform focused on ideas rather than ideologies.
We also wanted to address the role of technology in the future. While we want to broaden out or topics of conversation, like politics, technology will likely always feature in our talks. However, this doesn’t mean that our talks will be purely about what technologies do or how they function. We want to be able to discuss the ethical implications of particular technologies or how they might affect future developments. We understand that not everyone who attends The Manchester Futurists is particularly ‘techie’ and hope that by changing our focus, we can be more inclusive and encourage a broader audience to attend.
In this podcast, Hannah, Ian, Caroline and Ahmed discuss the role of politics in the future and how our own ideas, ethics and political viewpoints vary. We discuss the role of tech in our talks and how we want to bring new perspectives of technology to our talks. We also talk about why it is so important that you, our lovely audience, share your suggestions for speakers and subjects you would like to hear more about.

Listen to our podcast here and direct mp3 download.

Please use the comments below to let us know your thoughts, suggestions and ideas. This is an open and evolving conversation and we want to make sure everyone gets a chance to add their voice!

You can also tweet your thoughts to @mcrfuturists.

Please note that while we try to respond to as many comments as possible, we might not be able to respond to them all!

The Future of Drones: Changing Landscapes and Urban Design

photo of man holding remote control
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery on Pexels.com

When you imagine future cities, you probably picture tall buildings reaching high into the sky with lanes of drones, hover cars and other flying vehicles. Taking to the sky has always been a part of our cultural imagination. Flying cars feature in all kinds of futuristic novels, TV shows and films, from the dystopian landscape of Bladerunner to the utopic Earth Star Trek envisages.

It’s no coincidence that these fictions have such a grip on the way we approach the future. Design fictions are hugely valuable in unpacking our ambitions for the future as well as forming a critical analysis of how those fictions could work in reality. But often, while films and novels interrogate the ethical or moral dilemmas technology might bring, they ignore the more mundane practicalities such as how the drones might move around the space or how they could influence a range of other industries and designs.

In this podcast, Hannah and Ian are joined by Paul Cureton, from Imagination, Lancaster, a design research department that looks at design futures, speculative design and design fictions. One of Paul’s interests is how visions of the future translate into reality, which has led him to write his book, Drone Futures: UAS in Landscape and Urban Design.

We ask what the future could look like with drones, how they could change the landscape and who is most likely to use them. Our conversation takes us from the history of our imagination of flight right through to the idea of being able to drive a drone into your apartment for it to be taken down to a basement parking area by automatic lift and everything in between!

Listen to our podcast here:

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@paulcureton

The Future of Manchester Futurists?

Passion led us here
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

This month’s podcast is quite a different one…

Manchester Futurists has done a great job in highlighting some of the emerging technologies coming over the horizon e.g. CRISPR, AI, VR, IoT, etc

As inspiring as that mission was, we feel that its time to move on and explore new and different boundaries with our audience.

Futurists will always be about future technology and its impact. Still, we would like to pivot and bring in unique perspectives and new thinking about technological developments and hear about the impact from people who are often unheard in technological rush.

There is a world of general discussions about new technology. We feel Futurists will thrive in a new space where we give a platform to those who rarely get one.

That’s our provocation…

Have a listen to the Manchester futurists team, Ahmed, Hannah, Ian, Caroline and Georgia discuss this new and important direction. (direct mp3)