This page organises various blogs, articles, and papers into some categories.
Unrecognised simplicities of effective action
Complexity, prediction, and politics
Complexity, ‘fog and moonlight’, prediction, and politics II: controlled skids and immune systems (September 2014). Why is the world so hard to predict? Nonlinearity and Bismarck. How to humans adapt? The difference between science and political predictions. Feedback and emergent properties. Decentralised problem-solving in the immune system and ant colonies. Some of the problems with political decision-making and institutions overlap with The Hollow Men II, below.
Complexity, ‘fog and moonlight’, prediction, and politics III: von Neumann and economics as a science (September 2014). This examines von Neumann’s views on the proper role of mathematics in economics and some history of game theory.
Complexity, ‘fog and moonlight’, prediction, and politics IV: The birth of computational thinking (September 2014). Leibniz and computational thinking. The first computers. Punched cards. Optical data networks. Wireless. The state of the field by the time of Turing’s 1936 paper… These sketches may help in trying to understand 1) contemporary discussions about complex systems in general, 2) new tools that are being developed, and 3) contemporary debates concerning scientific, technological, economic, and political issues which depend on computers – from algorithmic high frequency trading to ‘agent based models’, machine intelligence, and military robots.
Future trends in science and technology
‘Standin’ by the window, where the light is strong’: de-extinction, machine intelligence, the search for extra-solar life, autonomous drone swarms bombing Parliament, genetics & IQ, science & politics, and much more @ SciFoo 2014 (August 2014). In August 2014 I was invited to ‘SciFoo’, an annual meeting at Google’s HQ hosted by Larry Page. This blog summarises some of the discussions I saw.
Short blog on the rows over IQ and genetics, touching on misunderstandings of my essay in Prospect (November 2014).
Politics, international relations, political economy
Review of Allison’s book on US/China & nuclear destruction, and some connected thoughts on technology, the EU, and space (2017). What should America’s strategy towards China be?
My report for Business for Britain on the dynamics of the debate over the EU, and a small but telling process point on the EU (June 2014). This report explores swing voter opinion on the arguments for and against the EU. It also touches on perceptions of the parties and the leaders. It describes what I regard as a frequent error among the commentariat concerning the psychology of ‘swing voters’. This blog also has a Times op-ed on Europe attached at the bottom.
The Hollow Men I: Gesture without motion from the hollow men in the bubble (June 2014). This considers a long view of elite British decision-making from the 1860s to now.
The Hollow Men II: Some reflections on Westminster and Whitehall dysfunction (September 2014). This considers the main problems with the selection, education, and training of politicians and officials; the failure of the modern civil service and the reasons for it.
UK politics only
Wargame predictions from 2010 – how well did the Cameroons do? (July 2014). This one page PDF summarises a wargame that was played in autumn 2010 to explore some possible political dynamics. How well did the Cameroons do?
Babble in the Bubble: UFSM, Clegg’s lies, and the general dysfunction of the British state (May 2014). The backstory to the Universal Free School Meals announcement and what it shows about how decisions are made and how Whitehall works. Clegg’s lies.
A few thoughts on free school meals, Ofsted, and an answer to Simon Jenkins (March 2014). Simon Jenkins wrote an awful piece which prompted me to answer.
Also see below (June 2014): my Times interview, The Hollow Men.
Specialist maths schools — some facts (2017). Why was King’s maths school set up? What are ‘Kolmogorov schools’?
Bureaucratic cancer and the sabotage of A Level reform (February 2015). The DfE’s abandonment of the process for involving university academics in an annual review of A Level papers badly damages the process of A Level reform.
A series on Standards in English Schools. Part 0: Introduction (26 January 2015). Part I: The introduction of the National Curriculum & GCSEs (27 January).
International GCSEs and the DfE ban – was there a better path? (16 January, 2015). Short blog on the decision by the DfE to stop international GCSEs appearing in the DfE league tables.
Times op-ed: The Gove reforms (1 September). What were the main post-2010 school reforms?
UPDATE DOC – Open Policy Experiment 1: School Direct and Initial Teacher Training (August 2014). This summarises the responses to the experiment below. DfE officials said they would change some things. We’ll see…
Open Policy Experiment 1: School Direct and Initial Teacher Training (July 2014). I tried an experiment – to see what interested people could suggest regarding what is wrong with teacher training and how to improve it. There were a lot of interesting responses.
Response to various people concerning my Times interview (June 2014). In an interview in The Times on 16 June, I described some of the problems we had in the DfE and with No10. I described Cameron as ‘a sphinx without a riddle’ and explained why. Here I answer some of the commentary on it.
This email from me to various senior people in the DfE concerning the severe problems with Ofsted (‘getting worse and worse’) was sent 23 October 2013, reported by the Guardian 9 October 2014. It advocates a total rethink of Ofsted with ‘a blank sheet of paper’.
Interesting things I’ve read / essay updates
Some interesting things I’ve read recently (March 2014).
Some interesting things I’ve read recently (February 2014).