Algorithms that can detect cancers as accurately as trained pathologists; machines that can lay bricks six times faster than humans…. Every week we read how automation is replacing people’s jobs. At the same time, technology is reducing the cost of goods and services; e.g. advances in storage and distribution of solar power will gradually make it near-free. The time frame of all of this is still vague, but my guess is that within 20/30 years, it will be affordable to provide everyone with the essentials for a good life – regardless of whether they work.
But just because this is coming within reach, does not mean it will happen; human history reminds us that the benefits of technological advances tend to be grabbed by the better off – to reinforce their privilege; All our economic and political systems seem quite comfortable with corrosive levels of inequality. Resistance in the United States to the provision of universal healthcare is a good example; does this stem from a deep-down puritanism – an imagined distinction in people’s minds between ‘deserving and undeserving’ citizens; the hesitancy of UK measures to eradicate poverty suggest this same disapproval. I wonder if we all harbour this resistance to ‘equality’.
Within a few generations, universal access to quality services (including a basic income) will depend less on affordability, than on the consideration of human rights and values – society’s view of what’s ‘fair’. Technology can help produce the wealth – but its ‘fair’ distribution is a ‘moral’ issue – much more difficult.
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I watched hours of the House of Commons this week – the discourse so poisoned by anger and arrogance that I see little prospect of preventing a no deal crash-out; any random group of citizens would have a better chance of finding common-sense compromises. We should give serious consideration to the suggestion of two Labour MPs, Lisa Nandy and Stella Creasy – that citizen assemblies should be convened around the country – to explore options and make recommendations to elected MPs. In their daily lives, most citizens make common sense hard choices, without the conflict between party and national interests: time to ask the people. Separately, this piece by Fintan O’Toole helped my understanding of England’s relationship with Continental Europe.
I live a few miles (downwind) from Scotland’s worst polluter – which The Ferret names as the Ineos plant at Grangemouth; the mainstream world all around is driven by the imperative of economic growth at all costs. But, under the radar of the mainstream, there are passionate advocates of different visions for societies – that work for both people and planet. Such is a new book, ‘The Economics of Arrival: ideas for a grown-up economy’. It’s by Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams – who will discuss their book, and its relevance for contemporary Scottish politics, in Edinburgh’s Blackwell’s bookshop on 30th January at 5.30pm.
The outpouring of affection for Andy Murray this week has been remarkable – but easy to understand, because I feel it myself (Kevin McKenna piece). This is a guy who, from childhood, brought himself to the standard of the best in the world – and still behaves with the modesty of the shy guy next door. It’s partly the ‘Scottishness’ in his character which I find irresistible – dour, self-contained, painfully honest disregard for the guff of the media. Scots’ regard for Andy transcends admiration for an exceptional sportsman; he is, and will remain, a powerful role model for aspirational Scotland – and a decent human being.
The National this week published ‘an open love letter to Andy Murray’ by Peter Ross. Unlike myself, Peter has obviously been a lifelong tennis and Andy Murray fan. His letter gives us a glimpse of this.
“What became clear, as you got older, was that you’re not just a great athlete, but a great person. You always seemed a bit wounded, injured at some deep level beyond the reach of physio and surgery. That might be to do with your childhood experience, your survival of the Dunblane horror, or it might just be who you are. Either way, I’d say it gives you empathy, means your emotions aren’t far below your skin… For us in Scotland this has been more than admiration for a sportsman. It has been something like love.”
Last week’s bulletin highlighted some of the initiatives Senscot will be involved in during 2019. One of these will be another Pockets and Prospects Programme. The 2018 programme saw a number of Health SEN and Glasgow SEN (GSEN) members offer a range of diverse activities to community anchor organisations across the city – to help tackle loneliness and social isolation within these respective communities. Over 350 people benefitted from the activities offered – delivered by 7 SEN members – within 6 different Glasgow communities. The programme provided people with an opportunity to leave their homes; meet up with other people; make new connections; become more engaged within their local community; as well as, for many, participate in new activities such as learning a language, kayaking and murder mystery events. For the social enterprises, it gave them the chance to collaborate with other SEs in city; build connections in different communities; raise awareness of their services to a wider audience; generate additional income; and support one another in seeking to become more sustainable. Our objective for this year will be to replicate the success of the 2018 programme. See Pockets and Prospects 2018 Report.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
As we enter the final quarter of 2018/19, a reminder that the SEN Bridging Loan is still open. The fund offers small, bridging loans to SEN members – and has been capitalised by investment from people and organisations across our third sector through the purchase of Community Bonds. Bridging loans are short-term loans that are used to bridge periods when expected income has been delayed for one reason or another. If your organisation could do with this type of support, contact email@example.com for more information.
Last year, Senscot Legal produced its ‘Governance Guiding Principles for Social Enterprise’. These ‘Principles’ were part of the SE Action Plan and were developed to provide practical governance advice and resources to SEs and the wider third sector. To support this work, Senscot Legal offers workshops designed to help organisations put the principles into practice and develop effective, responsible governance. Topics covered include Governance Overview; Duties & Compliance; and Sustainability & Trading. Senscot Legal is delivering one such workshop to the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland later this month – 30th Jan. If you would be interested in a workshop for your own organisation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sport SEN met in Glasgow yesterday with 20 SEN members attending to hear from sportscotland on its Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity programme. Discussion followed on the role of SE in addressing health and wellbeing through social and community activity – the theme of our next Briefing Paper – due out mid-February. It was also great to welcome two new organisations to the Sport SEN – Twist and Hit and AFRICAALBA – who we look forward getting to know better in the months ahead.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new mental health magazine that has been set up to gather and share stories from anyone who has been affected by mental health or who has an interest in taking part in this important and ongoing conversation. Mind Yer Heid was established in May 2018 as an independent, non-profit magazine publishing personal, professional and hybrid stories of mental health. This doesn’t mean you have to have a diagnosis to contribute to the magazine – as they believe that we all have ‘mental health’ that needs to be respected and minded. In addition to the ‘written word’, they also run their Pure Sound Project that allows for stories to be shared via song, comedy, film trailers or the spoken-word.