Once upon a time we all lived in houses without toilets and running water. The power came from burning wood or peat or charcoal or coal.

Sensible minds created sewer systems from tax as well as water pumped to our houses. This was Government doing what was necessary and what the private sector initially could not. This model of to your door water and from your door sewage ensured health and hydration for the masses.

When gas and electricity came along the same model of to your home distribution was used. As a consequence massive utility companies now exist across the world (some Government owned and some not) supplying electricity and gas.

This was initially a sensible change – fires in homes for cooking and heating were a major risk to each dwelling and their neighbours in terms of burning down, but also the constant inhalation of smoke cannot have been good for people.

Piped gas for heat, burned in boilers to heat water with heated water pumped around the house is a genius idea. Similarly, electricity generated centrally and wired to our homes was a great idea when electricity first came along and for a long while after.

But, now we have been developing micro generation technologies for some time – solar panels on roofs for example; is there a better way of powering our homes?

Could we move away from centralised power creation (leading to coal burning and nuclear reactors) and head towards a de-centralised system where my home – everybody’s home – generates all the electricity it requires?

I have been pondering this for a while.

There has been a trend over time for home appliances to use less power – washing machines, fridges, etc. So the trend in consumption is downwards. Homes are being built which are much more insulated, so heating needs are also reducing. The development of batteries to store on site generated electricity is also developing (solar generates during the day, but power is required through the night as well).

So, if the technology is not there already, it probably soon will be. Which will lead to the return of the pre industrial revolution model of powering our homes – although it will be much safer than it was back then.

It has been revealed an Apple self-driving car had accident last month.

No one was hurt in the incident, reported on here.

It is not the first self-driving car to have an accident.

What is really telling in the report is that self-driving cars get rear-ended by humans a lot, allegedly because the machines are over cautious.

This Apple car is said to have been moving at 1mph and the human driven vehicle at 15mph.

I have long pondered the biggest challenge for autonomous vehicles would be the years when they share the road with humans.

We are unpredictable and prone to distraction.

In a ground breaking scheme in the UK, robots will dispense medicines for patients.

Full details here.

Feels like I have been saying the robots are coming for an age now (September 2010 was my first blogpost about robots).

And slowly, slowly they are.

In this story, it is keenly stressed 30 human jobs are also being created. Which is an important message when introducing robot labour to the work place.

Read this story about robots looking after children in Metro.

It is a good point and it is news that a futurologist said this.

And for some reason they refer to a 15 plus year old movie about a robot boy.

(Incidentally the only thing in this movie which I recall being in any way ground breaking for cinema was the idea sex robots, in this case Jude Law, would exist for women.)

In mu opinion it would have made more sense to refer to Issac Asimov’s short story Robbie which was the tale of a robot childminder first published in 1940 whom a child becomes attached to.

Exact same concept (AI is more Pinocchio) and 75+ years old.

Enfield Council is to use Artificial Intelligence as part of its customer service, planned to go live in Autumn 2016.
The story is relatively straightforward in terms of innovation and positive customer experience.
But read down to the end and note the quote from the council’s opposition.
UK local authorities are facing huge financial pressure at present, so is there anything in the concerns in this article about reducing the staff numbers?
Is the opposition quote reactionary or prophetic?
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

The Swiss referendum on the basic income was backed by just under a quarter of the country’s population.
So, while it will not be introduced, a large minority of the voters see a need for it as a way of dealing with the rise of automation.

In a recent post I mentioned the concept of basic income. The idea being due to robot labour there will be less work for humans in the future.
Today Switzerland is having a referendum with this idea on the ballot paper.
The article also cites this idea being tested in two other European countries.

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