Mr Smart Meter takes charge of UK energy policy

What could possibly go wrong?

Back in 2009, when Ed Miliband was Energy Secretary in the closing days of Gordon Brown’s Labour government, he announced Britain’s Smart Metering programme, promising to install smart meters in 26 million homes by 2020.  He stressed that “it’s important we design a system that brings best value to everyone involved”, with projected consumer savings of billions of pounds.  Fifteen years later, it’s still floundering, having cost consumers over £20 billion.  Now Ed’s back as our energy supremo.

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No juggling, no religion.  It’s the Edinburgh Fringe.

The Edinburgh Fringe programme is out and the first task for visitors is to work out what to see.  The Edinburgh Fringe boasts over 3,500 different shows, and expects to sell more than 2.5 million tickets over its three weeks of performances.  That means there’s a decent chunk of data to play with.  You can see (or scrape) all of the shows on the site, or you can pick up a printed programme.  So how do you choose?  It felt that this should be a useful example of seeing how data and AI are being used in the arts community.

It’s almost a year and a half since ChatGPT became public and the world started agonising over the possibility of AI taking over from humans.  This year marks the first real opportunity to see how AI influences the Edinburgh Fringe – the world’s largest arts festival.  Will it be used to write new plays, or to tell audiences what’s hot and what’s not?

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Building Homes for London

London has a housing problem.  Over the last eighty years it has failed to build the one million new homes that its growing population needs.  As a result, prices have sky-rocketed to the point that a first home costs up to fifteen times a joint salary.  On average, it now takes a couple around thirty years to save a deposit to get on the housing ladder.  By the time they’ve saved that, they’ll be in their early fifties, which means they’re unlikely to get a mortgage.  The dream of owning your own home is exactly that – a dream. 

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Bluetooth and Auracast are changing the way microphones are designed

Most people have a view about their speakers, earbuds and headphones.  They’ll happily enthuse about the audio performance, how well the noise cancellation works, their battery life and features like transparency.  But nobody talks about microphones.  The most you’re ever likely to hear is an exasperated “can you hear me” during a phone conversation, or a possibly muted oath about whether they’re muted and how to turn the mute on or off.

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Will 2024 be the year of Apple’s Vision Pro or Bluetooth’s Auracast?

It’s almost wo weeks since Apple shipped its first tranche of Vision Pros to around 100,000 lucky boys and girls (although I suspect the majority were lucky boys).  According to the New York Times, the average cost of a Vision Pro is close to $4,600 by the time you’ve fitted it out with the recommended accessories.  If you’re outside the US, there’s a significant premium on top of that.  So, the first tranche of sales of around 200,000 units will have netted Apple in excess of $1 billion.   That’s a staggering achievement, as is folding all of the tech into the product.  Bringing it to market is an amazing step.  The question is whether it’s going to impinge on very many people? 

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Why politicians fail at energy policy

This week, the UK’s opposition leader, Keir Starmer, outlined his plans for the United Kingdom’s energy policy, delivering his party’s national mission on clean energy.  The key plank of this is to do for oil and gas what Maggie Thatcher did for coal.  Margaret Thatcher had an ulterior motive, which was to try and break the power of the coal unions. Keir Starmer appears to have no ulterior motive, other than a desire for a glib soundbite.  In explaining the policy, he posited that stopping any new North Sea oil and gas exploration licences would let the UK concentrate on more renewables.  Explaining why he thought that was a good idea, he claimed that as renewable energy isn’t subject to global price surges, we would not be held to ransom when global demand causes costs to soar.  Instead, we would have a British energy company making British energy for British people.

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