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(118) Fall Back

On this week’s show you can hear Matt & Chris talking about some of the implications of facial recognition and deep fake technologies, and also quite how clever the Prince of Darkness Cummings may actually be.

You can find Chris’s blog post here:

And the Cummings post here:

Matt is running a panel next week at Tech Leaders Summit, and next month at the IT Directors forum.

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Matt Ballantine 0:21
Hello and welcome to Episode 118 of WB40 the weekly podcast with me Matt Ballantine, and Chris Weston. And so after a somewhat extended summer break, we’re back. Hello Chris.

Chris Weston 0:34
Hello Mike How are you? This is a just a great pleasure to be back in the in the saddle as it were.

Matt Ballantine 0:40
Indeed, I was wondering there for a moment if you completely forgotten the way in which this works and you were just sort of waiting to be told to talk but

Chris Weston 0:46
I am I am it’s as if we’ve never done this before. This is Episode 118 600 1800 19

Unknown Speaker 0:51

Chris Weston 0:55
okay. Yeah, I don’t I’m out of I might have practice Matt probably I’ve been keying myself up for this all day to do this again to be back on the on the podcast child because it’s been it’s been quite a long time and a few weeks since then we’ve both been on holiday and and various things you’ve been off to even have to various places far flung parts of the world and different parts of the country. Then you go to Scotland at some point. We did.

Matt Ballantine 1:19
We had a week in Fort William up with a view of Ben nervous when it wasn’t raining as the front window or the cottagers thing and it was beautiful, tranquil. Start not actually, you know, I went out there about 20 years ago, but I can’t really remember it. So it was a wonderful thoroughly recommend it. And we went to Devon for bit, which was sunny, and we had a weekend reporter those Yeah, Richard chicken right. Fantastic all across the UK and other bits. And he made it to summer in Spain.

Chris Weston 1:53
It was actually Canary Islands. We went to Gran Canaria which I’ve not been to before but it was really hot and very, very pleasant. We went anywhere else really we went nothing there were really bad during the summer holidays. But then when I came back up, I had kind of this emergency back operation which was kind of exciting. And which explained all the pain I was in back when we did the podcast.

Unknown Speaker 2:21
Yes, there was an episode about three episodes Yeah, he were in a foul mood and

Chris Weston 2:28
absolute agony. And now I’m less one disc, which is suboptimal? Really, I think I might be shorter than I was before.

Matt Ballantine 2:40
is as far as importantly stay solid. Take Scott storage, pick one disc lighter.

Unknown Speaker 2:45

Chris Weston 2:47
redundant array of this these are important. And a half expected the year and went to see the surgeon and see see a man with a normal normal legs but an unnaturally long back. Removed bits from other move into self.

Unknown Speaker 3:05
It’s a quiet twisted idea.

Matt Ballantine 3:09
I sped up it’s been a funny old summer as well with continuing political shenanigans. And what about technological things and I think caught your eye over the summer months?

Chris Weston 3:19
Well, there is something that the thing that really caught my eye was something I blogged about only today. But it was something that I was arguing with people around at the time. And it was this, this issue in Kings Cross where people have introduced some face recognition technology, which is not novel or new, really. But I think because it was in Kings Cross and because that’s where all of the the chattering classes hang out these days, Kings place and all that it was suddenly a terrible civil liberty that people’s faces were being recognised. And without the college, and so much so that the the Ico actually decided they were going to look into it and issued a statement to say that they were going to do some work into the use of facial recognition, which, which is a good thing. You know, I’m not I’m not downplaying the, the fact that regulators have to move with the times and understand the technology that’s currently being utilised. And after I’d written it, one of my colleagues in IDC, told me that in Switzerland, the company, it has already been fined and the GDPR for doing facial recognition around children. And that’s that was considered beyond beyond the pale. I don’t know I have a, I’ve got two hearts on this, I, I absolutely want to see privacy protected. And I think GDPR is a good thing, etc, you won’t get me, you won’t get me moaning about it. But I also from a practitioner point of view, somebody who would have absolutely implemented face recognition, if I’d had the tools to do so in various workplaces, if you know actually identifying an individual. And as much as you you haven’t got any reference data to say that this is this person this is that, you know, this is a person’s name, and this is their face, it’s hard to see how your how you’re breaching somebody’s privacy, unless you then subsequently do match that data. But that could that could apply to a lot of things could net so if you if you’ve got a database of anything that could identify you. So even if even your even your school, for example, your kids this school your kids go to if you’re if they’ve got a database of appointments with the head teacher, and you’ve got an appoint with the head teacher, two o’clock on Monday, the 21st of February, if one day that was matched up, show it so that somebody could find that you were in that school on that time, is that personal data? I think it is, you know, and where do you draw the line between what is pretty personalization, what isn’t, and what could possibly become personal data and what and what, what couldn’t and when it’s inadvertent and when it’s by design, I think it’s quite tricky, and probably is all covered under GDPR. And maybe previously, lawyers have already figured all this out. And I’m just too simple to understand it all at the moment. But it just seems to me, there’s a there’s a long way to go. Because the face is only one way you can recognise it as a person, there are lots of different ways that you can not unique, the only find people their their their digital fingerprint, their actual fingerprint, the way they walk the the number of times that they that their heartbeat, or whatever, you know, combined with all this, all this stuff that could be a kind of digital fingerprint or, or, or a fingerprint of your virtual fingerprint, how to how we to know what those are today, and what advanced data crunching techniques will be able to will be able to figure out about as in futures, it’s really tricky. I just think it’s really hard from attack practitioner point of view.

Unknown Speaker 7:00
There’s two things that actually some of the things that have been happening around and about in the tech world over the last month or so

Matt Ballantine 7:07
the first thing I’d say is the fingerprint that is generated digitally or somebody’s face is not the same as their face. And we have, particularly, you know, technology, evangelist at the moment seems to have this absolute faith that these things are absolute. And we know from the history of using DNA matching and fingerprint matching. And we will see it within these sorts of technologies around facial recognition as well, that false positives are not out of the question, by any stretch the imagination. And anybody who’s stood at the the passport queue, going into the machines, he throw any of the other airports who knows and facial recognition, which is how that stuff works, is not infallible

Chris Weston 7:54
at all, at all look good working, getting them to recognise your pitches, and in you know, are you Do you have any pictures of me, your

Matt Ballantine 8:03
locker all sorts of things? Absolutely. So and it’s getting better, and it will improve, but it’s not the same, you know that a unique identity is not a unique identifier. It is something that is close to being a fingerprint that can be used, you know, an algorithmic based thing that is used to be able to identify is not absolutely, and that there’s a worry there. I think the other side of this, though, is actually the the little bits of bubble of hype there have been around deep fake and visual processing, technology and how that’s developed. and developing. There’s been three examples there was the the app that got very popular, which I think was from Russia, that enabled you to bear to make yourself look like you all look in 20 years time, which quite frankly, I don’t need that shit I can imagine from looking in the mirror now how look in 20 years time, and it’s not pretty. And I don’t want anybody to reinforce it. Thank you very much. I prefer to wait frankly, what exactly, and then somebody did it to me for 20 years hands. And it was absolutely nothing like what I looked like 20 years ago, because of course, it wasn’t able to be able to regenerate my luscious long hair. There was a lot of hubbub around that though in tech. So because about all this is terrible, because it’s infringing your privacy, because he’s taking these pictures. And I’m sure a lot of that was because it was a Russian, and not much to do with the technology itself. There’s then actually in the last day or so, this app, which is called ZL, which is a Chinese app, which enables you to upload a photo and then it’s super fun superimposes your face onto a series of Hollywood clips, making you the lead star in a bunch of little clips. And I know it’s obviously it’s very tightly controlled. But I’ve seen a little demo of it. And it’s able to be able to put your face from just a single snapshot pretty convincingly. So any first glance look into anybody or into this, you know, show real, basically, of Hollywood stuff. And again, because that’s Chinese. Well, yeah, absolutely. Because it’s Chinese people saying this is going to be a terrible infringement of privacy, obviously.

Unknown Speaker 10:19
And then the third one was, I think you saw this a few weeks back, there’s an American

Matt Ballantine 10:26
impressionist, and he was doing a bit on a chat show. And what they did was he was doing an impression of Tom Cruise. And they face morphed him into chocolate. And it was so subtle. It was it was really interesting, because it was very subtle. And as he started doing Tom Cruise his face became that a Tom Cruise. But I had to watch it a few times to even realise that was happening because I was just taken in by the performance of the guys is really interesting thing. Now, out of all of that is two things. First of all issues around privacy, the use of face and who do you want to have your face. But if you’re on the internet, and everybody’s got a copy of your face anyway, because he’s on the internet, almost undoubtedly. My biggest problem is getting rid of pictures of me from about 10 years ago that CIO magazine still insist in publishing because I had hair than an over now. Exactly. I know, it makes me look like some sort of dishonest thing by pretending I still hear other people I know do this on things like LinkedIn profile pictures, but that’s a different storey. So yeah, this issue around privacy and how valuable is your face? And how much of that is personally identifiable and identify about identifiable information in the sort of GDPR sense? There’s a bunch of stuff there. But the other question that starts to come out of this is, how much do we trust photography? And there’s a, you know, the pitch tells 1000 words, and the camera doesn’t lie? Well, certainly that latter one has always been untrue. And there’s never been more at all. And the fair is exactly this, there’s never been a point in the history of photography, when you’ve not been able to bear to create fake images. The difference now is to be able to do fake images, as an individual you can do with a free app that you can download off the internet onto your phone. And you can make something that at first glance is convincing. Voice synthesis is now getting to a stage I think Adobe have got a tool that enables you with a bit of training, to be able to voice emphasised anybody and obviously things like Siri and Alexa, the voices on those are actually an actor having sat in a room saying every single thing with the voice says they’re a synthesiser, the fifth generation that speech as you go. So static photographs are easily faint. Voice is pretty easily fade. And now videos, the extent to being able to make things look like they are people they are not in moving video is something you could do on a smartphone. And so on the one hand we’ve got faces are personally identifiable information. And isn’t it terrible that people in Kings Cross can be able to use facial recognition, blah, blah, blah. And then the other hand, we can’t trust any image that we see anymore?

Chris Weston 13:21
Well, that’s right. And that will go back a few weeks to when we talk to men over and Dawn about know the synthetic generation and the fact that people are growing up in that, in that world where that it is a fact they have to. They have to learn to cope with those synthesised images, synthesised movies, and be able to discern truth from fact.

Matt Ballantine 13:45
So there’s something within the the GDPR storey I think now, which isn’t about are you holding my personally identifiable information? But how can you show that the identifiable information that you have about me know only is stuff that I’ve given you permission to have about me? But it’s also true? Yeah, that’s very true.

Chris Weston 14:07
And whoever’s haven’t given false information about ourselves. when presented with I don’t know, a form to download something that we want to download, but we don’t really want to tell the person genuine detail. So you put a slightly false email address or you know, you we’re we’re quite capable of giving misinformation away our of our own nevermind, as you say, somebody’s doing it for nefarious reason. And it could be that one day that misinformation that we give away, comes back to bite us because somebody has decided that we might be older than we are. Because, you know, I’m my partner on year, then as my birthday sometimes in order when somebody if somebody puts in a, you have to put your birth date into an H verification. Sometimes I’ll give the wrong date entirely. Just because I know it’s a replication thing. I don’t know. But as long as I’m able 21 or whatever, that’s fine. Well, why do I get my birthday? Why? So I’ll give a different date. But maybe one day somebody use that information, but also some purpose. And you’re right, accuracy and veracity is a is a very different matter. And whose responsibility is that.

Matt Ballantine 15:16
And then it’s interesting idea, one of the other bits of news over the summer has been changing management at the GM additional service. And Kevin Kennington has now left the building. He has been replaced with a name that it is taken over from him, but she’s on an interim basis. But also the unsurprisingly, given the amount of shenanigans has been in the cabinet over the last six weeks. But there is now a new minister in the Cabinet Office who is responsible for amongst other things. GDS, he’s also got responsibility for the major projects authority and a bunch of other things. And he’s his background is basically has been an MP for about three years. And for those dollars that comes out of line. So Sharma fox hunting, maybe not so strong on digital strategy, but you know, who am I to judge. And one of the things that GDS and the new Acting Director General GDS has said is that identity is still going to be one of their headline, big things to be able to deliver, even though identity has been recorded and utter disaster, I think is unfair, but it hasn’t worked.

Chris Weston 16:26
And it’s still falling apart, isn’t it though they lose experience or somebody from the programme the other day, because

Matt Ballantine 16:35
yeah, three other providers, I’m not sure who it was. But three of the providers, the private sector, providers who are providing identity services have withdrawn from it. And it’s not being used uniformly across government. So it’s not a surprise. But this thing about a verifiable identity on the internet, it’s been something is fascinated me for as long as I’ve been aware, and we are more or less of the Internet, and still seems to needs to be on the one hand. Without it, privacy issues are always going to be a massive problem, because unless you can, authoritative Lee identify somebody, and authoritative Lee identify yourself, issues about who you are, and where you are always problematic. But on the other hand, we can’t have a single authority issue in those identities. Because previously, people get really up in arms about that, because they see that as a massive, effectively personal security flaw, which of course it is. And as current events are telling us, you can’t necessarily trust anybody to add to the good intentions of anything. And that that tension, I think actually underpins a lot of this stuff. And it’s going to as we get more and more technologies that are able to identify people through methods that aren’t about, I presented you with a document that shows you who I am. issues about how I can identify people, whether it’s from the gate of their walk, or whether it’s the speed at which they type in and we will have a unique typing pattern, which will identify us, which probably Google know, because they keep keystroke information as part of what they’re doing through an odour their apps online. Those kinds of identifiers will start to be used, they’ll be used in this kind of pseudo anonymous way. And then that comes back to the point of your article, I guess, which is about how non personally identifiable information if used in certain ways can become identifiable?

Chris Weston 18:29
Yeah, that’s true, I guess. And it comes to, you know, I’ve long held the idea that, that we would come to a point where we would need to be responsible for our own data. And it would be in a in a place that we controlled as individuals, and we will allow people to access it when as long as it needed to, and then they stopped having access when they don’t need to, and sometimes you will have a right to do that make that control happens. Sometimes you won’t, with regards to your civil civic responsibilities, such as tax or if you are convicted or something I have a crime that I I can’t see any other way other than was being the holders of our own information. And you know, what can I say my curse This is this. This is a clear case of blockchain being Ah,

Matt Ballantine 19:18
oh, I was just thinking we were going to get through this conversation without mentioning distributed Ledger’s alone. I know it isn’t, because you still got to have somebody. Ultimately, there’s got to be a thing this is this is that this is the paradox maybe that with, even with distributed Ledger’s, there’s which legible to use and which code is is it who are responsible for the creation of the ledger, there is no such thing as a totally decentralised ledger

Chris Weston 19:45
and get with a ledger. This is a decentralised solution. I’m just going to create the company name and issue some chairs.

Matt Ballantine 19:58
Please stand up anyway. Well, interesting stuff, we’ll put a link up to the article, what you wrote on the website at wp 40 podcast,

Chris Weston 20:08
which wasn’t all about that, but it referenced, we reference some of that. And yeah, that’d be good. And we’ll know, I think that’s a subject we’re going to return to a lot because as Ico keeps going around and kicking people’s doors down to take their money away, and that is the kind of subject I think we’re going to come back to. So bad, I think you’d have to be living under a rock of enormous proportions, or in a different country with all the windows closed, and the curtains drawn on the radio turned off, not to know that we have a brand new prime minister of dubious quality, and whole bunch of people around him that, well, I’ve taken politics in a slightly different direction. Notice somebody that’s on the on the Twitters yesterday or the day before said, you know that everything has changed. And the politics has been completely changed by this, this, this new government and the way they’ve done things. And I think, you know, in terms of approach, we can all see that, I think in terms of actual results, nothing has really changed. But we now have Johnson, reclined Johnson and his what some people are describing as a kind of swing, golly, figure, this public master behind the scenes was your dominant coming. And you pointed me to one of his blogs today, because we thought we’d have a look at how he thinks and, you know, is it relevant? And what it does it does it tie it with any of the things that we’ve talked about over the years in terms of how you think and how you make decisions and how you create high performing teams, right? He used to call them high performance teams, and this particular article that you sent me.

Matt Ballantine 21:56
Yeah, so the article, Cummings is a prolific writer of long blocks. He doesn’t see the form as being one for succinct

Unknown Speaker 22:08
throws. No, it’s not, nor well constructed paragraphs to be fair.

Unknown Speaker 22:14
And so this blog, I thought it was interesting, because it is kind of on topic for us.

Matt Ballantine 22:20
It’s called on the referendum number 33, high performance government, cognitive technologies, Michael Nielsen, Brett Victor, and seeing room so you know, from the start this is grab attention. Now, I just like to be completely out in the open here, I know about a thing called confirmation bias, which is where we find evidence to support our views. And my view going into this was that I thought he was basically there’s, there’s people that I’ve met over my career who have been incredibly smart, and very good people, people who’ve made you feel at ease about how intelligent they are. And a very easy to work with, and not very many people I’ve worked with like that. But I’ve definitely worked with a few. I’ve also worked a few have been phenomenally bright, not particularly socially adept, but understood. They weren’t particularly socially adept and found mechanisms to better word their ways around that. And there’s people I’ve worked with, and mostly it has to be said in the, in the world of marketing, who have been at a make a career as a spouting out of bollocks, obviously, with a modicum of intelligence. And they basically they spout stuff out there people go,

Chris Weston 23:37

Matt Ballantine 23:38
there obviously operating a different level of intelligence to me, and I don’t understand what they’re talking about. So I’ll just not along. And I’m fairly convinced that dominant Commons is in that latter category. And as little points of confirmation, confirmation bias evidence of that, a few weeks ago, there’s the theory of the Black Swan, which is from the same Talib, and is about how unexpected events come up. And they happen and we can’t predict them. We can’t see them coming because they’re unexpected. And then often what will happen is that we will put in place measures to be able to prevent those sorts of events ever happening again, which they won’t because they are unexpected, and very unlikely. And in his follow up book, anti fragile. Where he then says is that actually often then those solutions to prevent that same black swan event happening in the future makes the systems that that organisation has incredibly fragile, because it means that they’ve geared themselves around a bunch of scenarios that will never happen, which leaves an incredibly vulnerable to the ones that they can’t predict. And Cummings have taken on this metaphor, the Black Swan and told people to go and hunt for the black swans and government departments involving anything is to embrace it. Which if you understand that the Black Swan metaphor is utter nonsense, because you can’t that’s the point of the Black Swan, you get yourself around being able to deal with unexpected events occurring, not trying to preempt them. So that for me was so yeah, now he’s he’s, he’s Breitbart. And then this document, basically, it tries to bring together anybody who uses the word intersection, basically, as a bit too obsessed with Steve Jobs. And it doesn’t really mean anything. And if you’re intersecting more than two things, it’s so complicated that you’re not talking about intersections really, at all, are you. So the blog is supposed to be about having a look at the intersection of decision making technology, high performance teams, and government. And it’s about 10,000 words or so. And it quite early on says that this is the sort of document that the basically the people who need to read this off document and should be acting upon it and the sort of people who won’t read 10,000 word, blog posts, he calls it a blog, by the way, it’s not as a blog post going to be a pedantic ass about these things. A post is what you do on a blog or blog is the aggregation of those posts where society point one in for you, and simply always goes on about and pulled me up on it and many occasions. But yeah, he he talks about how this won’t be read by the people that he needs to be able to read it. And you think, Well, why are you writing it? If the people that you think needs to be addressing this won’t take any notice of you? Because you’ve written it in such a candid and long way? And then it goes on like that?

Chris Weston 26:34
Yes. Well, I, you know, I hear you, Martin, I’m not, I’m not going to defend this article, in great depth. I read it through, right. And he talks about high performance government cognitive technologies, which in turn to me, and the seeing rooms and I I mean, I take your point, right, so so he talks about the intersection of fields, but he does going to way too much detail and kind of losing himself. He talks about cognitive technologies, there’s these are essentially ways of learning more effectively, which, okay, you know, there are things that we can do, it’s a bit like the whole, the old memory trick, isn’t it? You know, you you meet eight people in a room and if you try and associate their names with a picture, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to remember who it is or so and sometimes I found mentioned this to a lot of people, if I’ve got my brain switched on, and I’m ready to think I must remember all these people’s names. I’ll try think of somebody famous who has a name a bit like it, and try and pick something about this person that makes them either look like that person that’s famous or is completely different. So and then when I look at that person, I think Oh, yes, that that that girl’s got long blond hair and her name was Meryl so I said oh yeah, like Meryl Streep in my brain and that’s metal, okay, I can do is kind of just something silly like that. So there are there are ways that you can you can kind of throw it all kind of what we would now in the vernacular, cool hacks that you can do to improve your cognitive abilities and memory and he talks a bit about that. But the people the kind of people who are impressed by those things that kind of people are impressed by neuro linguistic programming you know, that they are they an NLP is one of those fantastic areas of of flimflammery, which takes a few perfectly reasonable little tricks, some Mr. misdirection, and some, you know, complete bollocks. And then and then tries to make you believe that was all true because of this. And it strikes me that he’s a bit like that now. And there’s, there’s certain things about this out this article I wrote, and I really all the way through. And sometimes I thought, No, you know, this guy has understood this thing. And, you know, fair enough, he’s done that. But in in many ways, it it. He believes he understands it to the level, he kind of projects upon himself a level of understanding. And it’s a bit like that there was a book we read when we did the book club, earlier in the year or late last year, whenever it was. And there was somebody who wrote, there was this stoicism book. And he wrote a book and then he wrote about these different great leaders like Hannibal, maybe it was one and all this kind of thing. And he would, essentially he projected onto them his own thought processes. And as if they made those decisions because they thought like him, and there’s this there was this really self indulgent codswallop that he wrote about how, how he was like them, because he understood how they thought, which was the centre of the point, but and the it reads like somebody who has decided they really understand advanced physics, because they’ve watched every single episode of Star Trek and really enjoy the engineering bits. And you can learn a lot of stuff from that, you know, you can learn a lot of good words, and you can even learn some concepts. But you, and you might be very bright, but I’m afraid you’re not going to be you know, you’re not a physicist, when when that happens. And I.

So there are certain things that I wrote down as I read through this article, and one is, I wrote down the clock clockmaker, because coming seems to believe, and the only from this, this article, I don’t really know much about him. Obviously, you know, I’ve seen the output from this, this is gone, and we’ll dignify it with that word. But as front of this, it seems like he’s got this clockmaker idea that, that you can model, you can model the world, you can model it, you can model people, and you can model a department or a country or government to the point where you can have a whole bunch of the US and if you pull this lever, then that happens. And then is a fundamental flaw of people who are not quite as clever as they think they are. They are clever, and they have brains, and they have ability, that I see it a lot in, in and I might be I suffered from it, you know, when I was 18 years old, when I was coding, you kind of learn you grow out of it, you know, if you if you if you’ve got any sense, is that if only you had a computer big enough, and if only you had enough time, you could write code that could model anything, you know, and it’s like that XKCD cartoon about, you know, we’ve been trying to solve this problem for years. And then a computer programme comes along, says, Oh, don’t worry, I’m going to sort out with algorithms. And then six months later, so this is really hard now. Yeah, you know, you, you, you get fooled into the that you this this talk that you’ve got you can you can sell anything. So he’s got a clockmaker thing. He’s also, in this article, he seems to suggest that people that don’t make decisions based on numbers all the time are somehow relevant. Shouldn’t the worthless and that you should like so it’s like is this empiricists kind of

Unknown Speaker 32:07
thing is highly rational

Chris Weston 32:09
approach to everything? Absolutely. Everything’s got to be backed up with minimalism. And not only our YouTube, if somebody tells you something, if somebody asserts something, then they should back it up with evidence Well, okay, fair enough. But they should not only back it up with evidence, they should back it up with the details behind that evidence. Nothing that’s that’s true. But you quite quickly get to a point where only certain number of people can understand that the the evidence and the way that’s been that’s been bought, built up, and you need to trust some of those people in that chain. Unless you’re the kind of person that thinks you understand quantum physics because you’ve lost a lot of Star Trek. So there’s this kind of imperious thing that goes on. I I think he’s impressed with parlour tricks. So a bit like this kind of Black Swan thing where he’s various things. Nicholas, tell me he’s a clever fella. The dynamic room is that what he called it, dynamic land. So he talked about how you should be able to make decisions and and create your strategies, in rooms that are designed to help you do that. And I understand that and not don’t don’t disagree with that. It helps you to have tools, and it helps you to have visualisations and it helps you to be able to manage things in a in a more joined up way. And I wouldn’t we all rather have a good visualisation of data that tells us whether we’re going to run our money this year, and a business, then a big table of numbers, which we then have to draw our own conclusions from. Absolutely, it’s important to do that. But he talks about this this particular example. And really, when you look at the video that you pose, it’s just crap. It’s just rubbish. It’s it’s a, it’s a lovely idea, but never going to work in practice. It’s just it’s it’s a pretend, advanced working environment.

Matt Ballantine 34:06
And lots of the experimental environments that people at john Seely Brown, were talking about 20 years ago. Yeah, absolutely learning context. And that have never really happened not because they weren’t good ideas to experiment with, but because they were never practical. And he, I mean, the thing that comes across above all else for me on this is how down he is on the civil service, that he believes that they’re basically all stupid. And I think that that’s possibly because whenever he’s had to deal with any senior civil servants, I’m projecting a little bit here. But I don’t think he’s able to be able to do anything other than do logical argument as to why people should do what he says. And anybody who knows anything about influence knows that logical argument as an influencing tactic, and somebody who disagrees with you, is just about guaranteed to fail. And he then gets into a piece where he talks about how we should be selected people much deeper in the tails of the ability curve, people who are plus three or plus four standard deviations above average on intelligence, relentless effort, Operation ability, and so on now, in the UK working population, plus four standard deviation on anything is about 34,000 people of working age. So if you combine, I don’t know the math well enough here. But I would say that there’s probably identified about 60 people out of those four combinations, if you want plus three or plus four against that number of different things. Assume you can even measure them properly anyway. And let’s not get onto discussions about whether IQ is a little bit hogwash or not, spoil it is. And it’s that kind of thing, where it’s just this glib, throwaway mark, because the people in the civil service aren’t intelligent enough to understand it. He’s never worked at any depth in anything other than the civil service politics and this kind of bubble around Westminster

Chris Weston 35:58
surgery. And the owner said, of course, the unsaid words, alongside that comment around we need to pick people from this long list. Now these these tales of, of Bertie is like me, because he sees himself in that in that, and maybe it’s Ryan, I don’t know, if I’d maybe if I sat down and talked to him for an hour, I’ll be convinced that he is, but I don’t from this article, I do not see that he understands. He’s had more much more exposure than me to the civil service and to government. So who am I to judge but I don’t see that the civil service I the civil service does not work entirely on empiricism and data because there is so much experience and so much unsaid stuff that has to be maintained. There’s there’s so much what we might call corporate memory in a commercial world that has to be passed down and understood in order to be able to operate in a such a complex environment, and the top civil servants. And not just the top sort of servants but but many of the civil servants. And so in high rankings It was our fiendishly, fiendishly clever, and really know how to make things work out how to influence. And I, I worry a bit because he talks about the post pictures of the cabinet, Cabinet Room, okay. And he complains that it’s a, it’s a frosty old room, and you can possibly make a decision on that. And he posts he post pictures of the Large Hadron Collider at collider control room, and he posts pictures of a power grid control room, and he post pictures of a NASA mission centre. Right? Well, brilliant, you know, fantastic, exactly what you need, you know, NASA, the big, big screens that show things that everybody needs to see in little screens to show what the individual needs to see whether they communicate absolutely right. But he fundamentally disagree, misunderstands that those rooms have designed for a purpose, which is to make instant decisions that have an immediate impact on something is happening now. That is what you’re doing in those rooms, you are not setting policy, and you are not pushing a particular decision into a government department that will then go off on lots of different areas to close, stop doing this, start doing that, something that will take quite a long time to achieve and involve lots of further influencing. These are not the same thing. As I mentioned, the Cobra room, which is a little bit more like that, in terms of you know, that this is therefore being briefed about a situation but it’s still I don’t think is, it’s very unlikely to be the Cobra room is very unlikely to be there to control response to a situation in actual in real time, you will have police control rooms, or you know, how to bed army or you know, forces control rooms that which will be controlling the actual response. This is about direction, and they’re completely different. I just don’t understand why he hasn’t, you know, with his enormous intellect, and having sat down having all the time to write all these words and find all these preachers don’t understand boy hasn’t understood that.

Unknown Speaker 39:22
I think for me, the conclusion of this only he he was able to hack the

Matt Ballantine 39:29
the 2016 referendum for the leaf campaign he managed to better get the vote down. That shows the level of strategic planning and and rationality which probably something like a referendum on a binary decision can happen. I probably would have more belief in the idea he’s some sort of genius evil or otherwise, if he actually managed to then get the whole thing to be completed. We wait to see whether that will ever happen.

Chris Weston 39:55
Well, indeed, my lot, sir. That’s all playing. You know, watch this space.

Matt Ballantine 40:00
I will put a link to the article on the website WB 40 You can have a political through if you’ve got an hour or so to spare. It’s interesting if you want to get an insight into this management a little coverage. Okay, so that is it for this week. First week back got the the old podcasting limbs working again, not too much rustiness.

Chris Weston 40:23
Now I think we, you know, came in for the long run there, we were up to up to full pace pretty much immediately.

Unknown Speaker 40:30
I knew you wouldn’t be able to get through this without mentioning their cricket louder.

Matt Ballantine 40:36
Exactly. Over the next few weeks, we’ve got some really interesting interviews coming up. I think next week, we’re going to get one with a chap, he runs a company that helps large businesses use connected devices to better work more efficiently with things like refrigeration in retail. Somebody I met a few weeks back. I’ve also got an interview that I did this week go out in the next few weeks with somebody runs a diamond and jewellery company. And think about the technology involved in that the some archaic world of jewellery. You got one or two coming up?

Chris Weston 41:13
Yeah, we got an interview that I did with a chap who helps businesses with their sales process and things like that. And we talked very specifically about networking. So how, how people can use networking more effectively? And what are the things that stop people from doing it? Nothing that should be quite an interesting lesson for anybody who is having trouble exploiting their own personal network.

Matt Ballantine 41:40
Excellent. And then over the next month or so I’ve got a couple of public appearances, which makes you sound much more grand than I am. Next week tech Leaders Summit in London, I am going to be hosting I’m really excited about this hosting a panel about how diversity can be a key to here unlock great innovation in organisations. And to be able to do that I have brought together probably the most diverse panel that I could think of I’ve got a person who is expert in Gen. Zed. I’ve got somebody who is an expert in neuro diverse conditions. I’ve got somebody from a digital agency in Canada, I’ve got a musician. And I’ve got an international headhunter who specialises in developing economies to better bash around the thinking around how do you get diverse teams working effectively together to innovate. So that’s totally the summit next week. And then beginning of October, I’m going to be back at the it directors forum. And this time I’m playing cards, I’m taking some of my it and other priorities cards out to show how you can use games to explore priorities and explore ideas. So if you’re interested in either of those going to put the links to the events on the website, you got anything coming up.

Chris Weston 42:58
Not this weekend. I’m not doing anything publicly this week. going on next week. I’m off to the European CIO summit in Ireland and then I’m going to do a keynote at the the Slovakia CIO summit in Bratislava after that so it’s a bit of a bit more exciting now the week after, if you’re doing public appearances, Mark, then I know you know, you know, I expect you to wear a suit particular t shirt and I know you’ll be promoting wd 40.

Matt Ballantine 43:31
I might wear one of the batches put it out. Anyway, it’s good to be back. Thanks for listening. We will be back next week and in the next seven days. Let’s just get through it, shall we people?

Chris Weston 43:59
Thank you for listening. You can catch us as always on Wb 40 podcast com or on all podcast outlets. And of course on twitter at Wb 40 podcast

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