Monday, 20 April 2015

The Singularity

You might not have heard of The Singularity - nor had I until I happened across a Radio 4 programme that explained all.  It’s got a cracking little website all of its own that you can find here:  

The Singularity - when AI overtakes human intelligence
So why is The Singularity important for #ukhousing? Well, it marks the point in time when, according to experts, Artificial Intelligence will overtake human intelligence and when that happens, everything changes.  Far off?  Science fiction?  Maybe, but there are some very smart people at Google, IBM and elsewhere who are absolutely convinced that super-intelligence that exceeds that of the human is inevitable, because of the exponential rate of increase in computing power.  

BigData & FabLab

At a time when digital headlines in #ukhousing seem characterised only by negativity to tenant tablets and drones and when much of the other digital stuff, such as BigData and the growing FabLab movement is passing us by, it’s not a popular thing to say that digital transformation is a necessary part of any successful housing association business model.  But being unpopular doesn't mean it’s wrong!  And that's not incremental change, but massive, continuous transformational change.  How else are we going to keep pace with the expectations of an increasingly tech-savvy group of customers?  How else will we will be able to bring medical and social care advances to the old, sick and vulnerable who we house?  How else will we help equip tenants for a jobs market in which entry-level jobs have been fully automated?  

If you are more concerned with the present than the future; if regulatory pressure on value for money is the monkey you need to get off your back; if falling rent collection because of welfare reform is threatening your business model; and if the rising cost of bricks and the labour to turn them into buildings is curtailing your ability to develop new homes, the answer still lies in transformation.  In a different world, where no Government is coming over the hill to rescue associations; where tenants are simply going to get more demanding and discerning before they pay their rent; doing what we’ve always done isn’t going to cut it. 

Some of these thoughts and ideas will be topic of the session in London next month where HACT and the northern housing consortium are coming together to discuss “Next Generation Solutions”.  You can find the full programme at and I hope to see you there.

Oh, and in case you wondered, Ray Kurzweil Director of Engineering at Google who is working on machine intelligence and the use of natural language to drive computers and the man credited with coining the concept of the Singularity, projects that it occurs sometime between 2029 and 2045.  Will you be ready?  Will your organisation be ready?