YouTube has been in the news this past week for two different issues related to its censorship decisions. Firstly the serving of paid for ads alongside material of an extremist persuasion Telegraph article. Secondly the possibly over zealous censorship with the restricted mode version of YouTube ABC News article. I am going to choose not to address these two issues directly and rather elect to consider the problematic situation YouTube finds it self in.

YouTube as a business model relies on large amounts of unpaid content which it sells advertising besides. As a business it is entirely based on scale, huge amounts of scale. Approximately 300 hours of content are uploaded every minute. This quantity creates a mammoth human task of censorship which is argued would be finically impossible to undertake.

This scale issue was arguable the winning feature of YouTube in the online video wars. It was ‘disruptive’ to allow anyone to create content and then distribute it on their behalf while monatizing it but claiming no responsibility.

This disruptive business model has always caused problems. Initially this was a problem of copyright infringing material rather than potentially objectionable but non copyright infringing material that has become the focus of recent disputes.

YouTube and other online platforms continue to offer apologies and excuses thats these ‘errors’ based on the inaccuracies of their current systems. Often such excuses are accompanied by promises of a future with more robust automatic censorship systems. Systems that will prevent these incorrect censorship occurrences from happening again.

However I suspect that such a future is actually impossible to create. No censorship system can ever be accurate. Old media understood this problem and taught the audience to understand the challenge it faced. Individual media outlets had their own defined standards and editors ultimately took responsibility for material published, perhaps even to the point of resignation.

YouTube is not old media is has established another practice, one which the audience most now learn to understand. One which requires the user to understand the lack of editorial relationship inherent to YouTube, the lack of meaningful advertiser content creator relationship and the fact that while it is not the wild, wild west its pretty close.

So on the basis that YouTube will never be able to categories, appropriately censor or filter its content here are my personal rules for YouTubing.

  • Most of YouTube is opinions, opinions are not facts and sometimes the only value is in telling you what something thinks about something.
  • YouTube creators may or may not have product endorsements that they may or may not be telling you about.
  • The suggested videos are unlikely to offer a balance opinion
  • The advertiser has nothing to do with the video and yes ads are annoying
  • YouTube videos get taken down, channels disappear its horrible for research
  • Some YouTube videos are objectionable but freedom of speech and exchange of ideas is more important than my opinion about a video

The SNPs call for another independence referendum was always going to be inevitable following the result of the EU referendum. In the first independence referendum, the argument was propagated that leaving the UK would cause Scotland to also leave the EU. Consequently as the UK government, campaigning to maintain the union, used this argument, it is hardly surprising that the SNP now seek another referendum.

While the UK government may wish to postpone a referendum beyond Brexit I suspect that this will prove impossible. Consequently the fight to maintain the UK as part of IndyRef2 will become the defining of the new post Brexit UK. That is how the next Scottish independence referendum has to be fought. This is therefore an opportunity for the UK government to propose a new frame work for the UK, an exciting vision for what the UK will be post brexit.

Winning a NO again in a second Scottish referendum would allow the UK government to push forward with Brexit knowing that the most hostile region to Brexit has been persuade. A partial mandate for the new look, post brexit UK.

Losing the referendum sees the SNP removed from Westminster which hands the current government a more robust majority which may be of use to complete the brexit process.

Indyref2 was always inevitable, it being called now can be a great opportunity for the entire UK.

Early thoughts on the framework that leaves spooks driving the car.

With the recent WikiLeaks publication of Vault7 we, as the public, have again achieved a glimpse of the ambitions and capabilities of the security services, to keep us safe. If the future of mass automation and the self driving car is to be soon realised how does this future technology integrate with the ambitions of those who seek to keep us safe?

Unless a wild west like experience is to be embraced, law makers will soon need to consider the appropriate regulatory framework of future automated systems. Part of this regulatory framework perhaps will be the fundamental design of software automation systems, architectures and topology that are declared as safe and fit for use. The establishment of these frameworks will provide the fundamental under pinnings of society in the future and will need to be informed by a vast number of multi role stake holders.

Consider for moment the security services within this framework, the automated vehicle poses both a substantial risk and enticing opportunity.

I will choose not to detail the possibilities but opportunities and risks manifest simultaneously as a consequence of the same entry vectors. Essentially it is a matter of appropriate use vs misuse of features. Many suggest that this square can be rounded through the use of stringent security, combined with controlled and intentionally designed back door points of access. However, such an compromise illustrates a decision process that leads to a framework with inherent vulnerabilities.

The near future into which these automated vehicles enter is one likely to be populated by a variety of actors who will seek to exploit such systems for there own nefarious purposes. Consequently, the regulatory framework required will need to be robust enough to secure these system in a hostile space.

Therefore a fundamental requirement of the automated vehicles of the future, regardless of any consequential impediment to other desirable features, must be an impossible to compromise and hack platform. This should be the starting point of the regulatory framework.

Uber, the riding sharing company, has recently under gone a run of bad publicity. Ok so maybe thats a understatement as #DeleteUber continues to trend. But are these perhaps just hallmarks of what is a fundamentally a toxic, but currently profitable, business model?

Efficiency savings, or the pursuit of them, has been the mantra of business and government for many years as a way of creating wealth and value. Uber is just the latest in a long line of companies who have sought to enter and disrupt a sector through delivering such efficiencies.

Uber’s disruption of the market is clearly seen by considering its position with the surrounding business eco system. Uber as an app only service could have been positioned as a user to business to business service. A service that allows the individually to immediately secure a taxi through trusted local taxi services.

However Uber’s sought to go beyond this middle man service and instead created its own driving force, which critically it then seeks to disavow.

The creation of this literal driving force has perhaps been facilitated by a number of external factors,

  • the presence of GPS systems deskilling a trade, local detailed geographically knowledge is no longer required
  • the great depression creating redundancy cheques to facilitate vehicle purchase
  • the great depression creating low interest rate environments again facilitating vehicle ownership
  • the great depression creating labour with reduce wage expectations
  • the prevalence of smartphones and realtime data aware apps

These factors combine to create a large, human driving force who could then be leveraged into a owned market. That of private hire vehicle.

This owned market is then encouraged to manifest into a gig market. This gig market creates the gig economy presenting as easy for individuals to enter into, requiring no ongoing commitment and offering no coherent individual branding opportunities. Critically as the owner of the market they seek to claim no ownership of the labourers within the market which also prevents the bonding of employees into unions. Consequently they then excuse themselves from the typical employer obligations. It is this, that creates the efficiencies and grants Uber a competitive edge.

This model is increasingly prevalent in a number of different industries (food delivery) and typically leverages similar factors. It then typically seeks to create and control a market to then disavow employer responsibility.

As a business model the primary advantage (or efficiency), is through the redefinition of the employee/employer relationship to create cost savings. This new type or employee relationship, non exclusive and non committal, may become the primary method of employment. To suggest it is bad is to simplest. However, I would suggest that it is intrinsically incompatible with the anticipated norm of PAYE, employer national insurance contributions and the identification of on shore profit.

Companies of this model can perhaps be anticipated to pay limited national insurance contributions, limited local and national tax, limited employee benefits and even evade the need to provide sustaining employment, for as long as new entrants can be found.

While Uber is a possible example of this concern, it is clear that Uber intends to move from this model in the future. Human drivers are likely to be replaced by automated self driving cars. Consequently, while concern at the emergence of the gig economy owned markets is valid, the drive of future large scale automation systems perhaps makes such concerns temporary and a distraction from larger existential employment problems.

I think its fair to say that within the UK Tony Blair has become a somewhat reviled character. Many of the supporters would voted for him in the elections he won have since abandoned him and the centralist politics of new labor have certainly been abandon firstly in name of austerity and now in the name of Brexit.

I personally found the New Labour third way concerning due to clear failure to represent the core labour vote throughout its tenure, the sneaky craftiness of the working tax credits redistribution project, the introduction of tuition fees and of course the war in Iraq.

However rational argument does not depend on the individual bur rather the quality of the argument as all people are flawed.

The best of men are but men at best… (J. Flavel The Method of Grace (1681))

However his recent speech (Full text) at Open Britain (Feb 2017) perhaps hints towards the formation of a true resistance towards Brexit and the quality of discourse missing throughout the referendum.

For this I am willing to consider the quality of the argument. I have blogged regarding my support for the EU many times and continue to hold that opinion. I am also of the opinion that the EU Referendum represents a point in time and that we should all feel free to continue to campaign in support of and in opposition of this issue like all others.

In fact my main complaint with the campaigning around the EU Referendum was the lack of positive pro European messaging. The project fear approach, successful in the Scottish Independence vote, offered nothing in response to the wild, unattainable promises of hope that the leave campaign offered. To this end I feel there is still a case to made and test by the public and perhaps such an opportunity will present it self soon. A case for greater European integration, greater unity in Europe and a full participation by the UK in the European project.

Blair conclude his presentation with a call to action,

“This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair; but the time to rise up in defence of what we believe – calmly, patiently, winning the argument by the force of argument; but without fear and with the conviction we act in the true interests of Britain.”