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SA Mathieson

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SA Mathieson is an analyst and journalist, specialising in healthcare IT and management, particularly in the NHS.

Universal basic income is a great idea, which is also why it won't happen

The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) unites a strange mix of people. “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things,” Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said in a speech at Harvard University in May. “And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People …
SA Mathieson, 15 Nov 2017
JET interior photo UKAEA

Hotter than the Sun: JET – Earth’s biggest fusion reactor, in Culham

Geek's Guide to Britain I’m in a room that, in normal circumstances, is not fit for human habitation. It features a number of big red buttons surrounded by illuminated yellow rings – just in case. “Push button to switch off Jet. Press only in case of extreme emergency,” the signs read, informatively. This is the Torus Hall, a 40,000m3 space the size …
SA Mathieson, 25 Sep 2017
Files photo via Shutterstock

Pssst... wanna participate in a Google DeepMind AI pilot? Be careful

Imagine you’re in charge of technology and data for part of the UK’s chronically cash-squeezed National Health Service. A world-famous technology firm offers you a cool new service, either free or for very little money. All it wants in return is access to the patient data that will make the service work. What are you going to do …
SA Mathieson, 23 Aug 2017
Theresa May glass of water photo via Shutterstock

Tech can do a lot, Prime Minister, but it can't save the NHS

Britain has a long-term health problem: Britons are living longer with conditions that would previously have killed them. This is obviously great for the people concerned, but not for the government, which is on the hook for most of the nation’s healthcare costs. This election has seen technology, along with new buildings, …
SA Mathieson, 8 Jun 2017
Conservative Party Facebook

How the Facebook money funnel is shaping British elections

Britons vote for a new government on June 8 and, until recently, election campaigns have been tightly controlled affairs with limits on how much parties can spend per constituency, the requirement to submit detailed accounts and no political advertising on television. But the rules don't cover online advertising – allowing …
SA Mathieson, 30 May 2017
ANPR photo via Shutterstock

Drugs, vodka, Volvo: The Scandinavian answer to Britain's future new border

Most people leaving Kielder forest park in Northumberland go east towards Tyneside, but you can also head north-west on an uncategorised road through open countryside. After a few miles, just past the abandoned Deadwater rail station, a couple of road signs are all that marks the border between England and Scotland. But if …
SA Mathieson, 11 May 2017
Obi wan droids

Trump, Brexit, and Cambridge Analytica – not quite the dystopia you're looking for

According to a story doing the rounds, psychometric big data pushed Britain into Brexit and Trump on to America. The winning sides adopted a method developed at the University of Cambridge to psychometrically profile people by using publicly available data including Facebook "likes". They used these to create devastatingly …
SA Mathieson, 7 Mar 2017
BT Tower photo via Shutterstock

Cut off: Big government IT wallets snap shut on BT's fingers

BT, which until 1984 was part of the UK public sector, is losing its grip on the public purse. Spending with BT by the Department of Health and its organisations appears to have fallen by nearly two-thirds during the current fiscal year, compared with 2015-16. Data unearthed by The Register has found BT is also rapidly …
SA Mathieson, 7 Feb 2017
Zuckberg Facebook wow photo via Shutterstock

Facebook pimping for politicos despite fake news 'purge'

National elections in the UK and US, and Britain's 2016 referendum on membership of the EU demonstrated the growing power of social media to swing views and win votes. Twitter gets a lot of attention due to its use by journalists and politicians – not least president-elect Donald Trump – and its relative openness making it …
SA Mathieson, 17 Jan 2017
Parliament photo by Shutterstock

Big tech's grip loosens on UK.gov IT spend

UK government IT spending is still dominated by a few big suppliers – but they are losing some of their grip, according to publicly released data and Freedom of Information responses covering five of the biggest-spending organisations. Last year, the Cabinet Office said the three biggest IT suppliers across central government …
SA Mathieson, 13 Jan 2017
Donald Trump

Meet the Loughborough 'emo' boffins who predicted Trump's victory

This has not been a good year for opinion pollsters, most of whom failed to predict either Britain’s vote to leave the European Union or the election of Donald Trump as US president. To be fair, both were close races. Wise pollsters offer probabilities rather than certainties: FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, who successfully …
SA Mathieson, 24 Nov 2016
Ransomware, photo via Shutterstock

World-leading heart hospital 'very, very lucky' to dodge ransomware hit

World-leading Papworth Hospital has escaped a full-on zero-day crypto ransomware attack thanks to the "very, very lucky" timing of its daily backup. It's believed that an on-duty nurse at the heart and lung hospital in Cambridgeshire, UK, unwittingly clicked on something in an infected email, activating the attack at about …
SA Mathieson, 4 Nov 2016
Cambridge bikes photo MK Jones via Shutterstock

Turing, Hauser, Sinclair – haunt computing's Cambridge A-team stamping ground

Geek's Guide to Britain King’s Parade in Cambridge looks like the last street on earth to have anything to do with computing. On one side is an absurdly ornate college gatehouse in yellow stone and King’s College Chapel, which combines the barn-like shape of a tiny chapel with the scale and detail of a cathedral. The other side is lined by tall …
SA Mathieson, 26 Sep 2016
Theresa May photo by Frederic Legrand COMEO via Shutterstock

Nul points: PM May's post-Brexit EU immigration options

Comment After a summer of vagueness, prime minister Theresa May is starting to define Brexit, with controlling immigration at the top of her list. That is likely to mean ending the freedom of European nationals* to work in Britain on the same basis as the locals – which will have a major impact on the many British IT employers who draw …
SA Mathieson, 5 Sep 2016
Robot on road photo via Shutterstock

Ireland's govt IT: Recession and job cuts forced us to adapt

Ireland was hit hard by the global financial crunch of 2007 and 2008. It was the first of the EU member states to slip into recession immediately following the bursting of the economic bubble. As the economy contracted, banks faced default and government debt increased, with Ireland eventually taking an €67.5bn loan from the …
SA Mathieson, 23 Aug 2016
Plan b, image via Shutterstock

What's Brexit? How Tech UK tore up its plans after June 23

Leaders of many British tech firms were less than thrilled to hear that the UK had voted to leave the European Union. “I was shocked and horrified,” says Kate Craig-Wood, managing director of hosting firm Memset, who we spoke before the June 23 vote. Her comments were echoed by others. Mike Laven, chief executive of fintech …
SA Mathieson, 25 Jul 2016
Girl and computer, photo via Shutterstock

UK's education system blamed for IT jobs going to non-Brits

Immigration is an issue swaying electorates around the world, including Britons, who will next week decide whether to leave the European Union and Americans, who will soon decide whether to vote for Donald Trump as president in November. While this is generally assumed to affect low-pay, low-skilled jobs, it can affect those in …
SA Mathieson, 17 Jun 2016
Electric Mountain under construction, photo by First Hydro Company

Inside Electric Mountain: Britain's biggest rechargeable battery

From the outside, Elidir Mountain looks like an old industrial site that has returned to nature. The slopes facing the Llyn Peris reservoir have been hacked into terraces by slate quarrying – this was once the second-biggest quarry in the world, with 3,000 workers – but they are now peaceful. Only a few buildings at ground …
SA Mathieson, 16 May 2016
Trump poster, image via Shutterstock

US work visas for international tech talent? 'If Donald Trump is elected all bets are off'

Apart from marrying an American, the best known route for foreign techies wanting to (legally) share their expertise for a fee in the US is a work visa. But this route is overcrowded, increasingly expensive and, should Donald Trump become America’s 45th president, it'll likely slam shut for many hoping to work in Silicon …
SA Mathieson, 13 May 2016
Bike jumper, image Christian Bertrand courtesy Shutterstock

Ireland's tech sector fears fallout of Brexit 'Yes' vote

The Republic of Ireland’s IT industry would be damaged if its second-biggest trading partner Britain left the European Union. Firms are concerned about the impact on exports - particularly if the British economy and sterling hit the skids. Some think Ireland could benefit from international firms wanting an English-speaking …
SA Mathieson, 29 Apr 2016
Empty office space, image vIa Shutterstock

Tech biz bosses tell El Reg a Brexit will lead to a UK Techxit

Analysis Immigration is one of the main concerns for advocates of Brexit. Some IT firms from Britain and abroad who we spoke to share this concern – but in the other direction. One UK tech firm has told The Register it could be forced to leave the country if Britain votes to leave the European Union on June 23 – a Techxit, if you will …
SA Mathieson, 11 Mar 2016
Snooping image via Shutterstock

Investigatory Powers Bill: Spooks willingly entering the light?

IPB The redrafted Investigatory Powers bill is about to return to Parliament, accompanied by complaints that the government is trying to rush it through, threats of Conservative backbench rebellions and a withdrawal of Labour support. It could almost be the European Union referendum. Arguments over process and party splits are not …
SA Mathieson, 1 Mar 2016

Higher US Fed interest rates will hit startups over the head

The US Federal Reserve’s decision in December to increase the target range for the interest rate it pays banks by one-quarter of one per cent, to 0.25-0.5 per cent, didn't seem like an Earth-shaking event at the time. But it was the first time the world’s most powerful central bank had changed its rate target since 2008, and …
SA Mathieson, 15 Feb 2016
Ada Lovelace, credit 2D Goggles

Lovelace at 200: Celebrating the High Priestess to Babbage's machines

A few of computing’s most vivid characters have become cultural icons. Most are from the last few decades, such as Steve Jobs and Alan Turing, but last month the University of Oxford held an academic symposium to mark the 200th birthday of one of the first: Ada, Countess of Lovelace, born on 10 December, 1815. Her …
SA Mathieson, 8 Jan 2016
Banksy protester image 1000 words via Shutterstock

Brits learning from the Continent? Authority, digi gov wheezes and the Autumn Statement

Analysis Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne included several uses of technology in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review. As part of a major expansion, the Government Digital Service will develop a common payment system on gov.uk, so that by 2020 citizens will have the option of paying online for every central …
SA Mathieson, 26 Nov 2015

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