It’s really easy to look at the current political debate and feel depressed. Whichever side of the Brexit debate you sit on, if you’re like me, then your skin probably starts to itch as soon as you switch on the TV.
I had a choice to make this summer: remain in the gilded cage that was Dubai – warm, clean and more importantly, far from Brexit, or return to the UK to start a new business and get involved in the fray. Although I was sorely tempted to stay (and in my darker moments wonder why I didn’t), the choice was clear. I needed to come home and, in my own small way, try to make things better.
Despite Brexit this country still has much going for it. And, despite Brexit again, the world is changing fast. Really fast. However, our political system isn’t keeping up. It wasn’t built for such rapid and fundamental change. It is said that policymaking is frequently five years behind business. Then what happens when even businesses are five years behind technological advancements? How can we even keep up with the pace of change, let alone take advantage of it?
The world is changing in more ways that we can imagine, but we’re still carrying on as usual. We’re still getting up every day and putting on clothes that we’ve bought specially to go to work, to cram onto public transport systems that we pay through the nose for, to get to places of work full of people we apathetic towards. Then we sit all day in front of a screen, which is apparently more deadly than cancer, before squeezing ourselves back into a fast-moving sardine can to get back to a house that we’ve paid to heat all day, quickly eat some supper and then fall asleep so that we can do it all over again the following day. All of this so that we can earn a salary (in order to pay the mortgage, a pension, half a dozen types of insurance, the kids’ school fees, savings, holidays, you name it) which all serves to keep us tied into this slavish system. And our job is probably going to be automated in ten years, so good luck with that.
Does that sound like a good system to you? It doesn’t to me – and it’s not even sustainable. The way we live, learn and work is geared towards how we operated during the second industrial revolution – the mass production and assembly lines that we were developing at the beginning of the 20th Century. We’re now entering what is being called fourth industrial revolution (computers, automation and electronics being the third). This industrial age is all about cyber physical systems, the internet of things, big data and A.I. In short, if you thought the last industrial age was revolutionary, then get ready for the main show. But are we even ready for it? If you’re getting up early and busting your hump commuting into a city every day, then probably not.
Eo925, my start-up company (literally standing for End of 9 to 5), is aiming to change the way that we live and work by connecting real people, real businesses and real technologies, with those in power. Of course, policy makers already speak to business, but they tend to be big business which have vested interests in keeping things the same. The same regulatory frameworks, the same taxation, the same pension schemes, the same working practices. But the world is changing. It is not enough to simply champion and embrace disruption for disruption’s sake, we need to take a long-term view of how our society and economy should be structured and then work towards those goals with practical steps.
Brexit can perhaps be seen as a line in the sand; it affords us the opportunity to fundamentally change how we operate and take full advantage of what is happening around us. Established industries are now being disrupted at an unprecedented rate; just look at what Uber, Airbnb and Amazon have done to the transport, accommodation and retail sectors. But what’s coming next and how do our policy makers legislate, tax and regulate for business models and technologies that they don’t fully understand?
Eo925 is here to start finding the answers to some of the most important, fascinating and fundamental questions that this century is going to throw at us.
We will be launching our agenda in early 2020, initially trying to seek solutions to things that we find interesting; how we reskill our workforce for the 21st century, fibre rollout, remote working, the threats and opportunities of automation and artificial intelligence. As we develop, however, we want our membership to define our agenda, so that we can have more policy discussions that matter to them.
It’s also worth mentioning that although we’re seeking to inform and influence the policy making process, we are a non-political organisation. We believe that ideas should be based on merit rather than political provenance.
If you would be interested in hearing more about our schedule of events, or would like to get involved in the organisation, then please head over to our website – Eo925.uk – let us know your contact information, and we’ll keep in touch.
Exciting times are ahead. We hope you’ll join us in shaping them.