But Dad, all my mates are playing GTA

GTA Water

I have lots of happy memories playing computer games when I was younger.  I was quite fortunate that my dad used these for work so could bring some home when I was quite young. I remember frogger on an early IBM model PC but the most memorable for me was probably the Apple II.   The Apple II had 5 inch floppy disks (which were actually floppy) and there was one game that sticks out for me… Super Bunny

super-bunny_2

Super Bunny was probably the thing that caused the most rivalry between my sister and I when we were still both quite young.   She was (I hate to admit) slightly better at me on this game – something that frustrated me until I realised that I could pull out the floppy disk whilst it was loading and completely wipe the high scores – which led to her running and screaming about me to mum and dad.   You’ll be pleased to know that my sister has since forgiven me but likes to raise this story when we talk about our childhood years.   If you want to try and beat the high score you can go and play the game at VirtualApple.org.

Other computer memories include networking two PC’s together to play Doom 2 with my friends (which always broke after a while) and playing the original GTA (Grand Theft Auto) when it was realised (age 16).

These days it’s a lot harder to be a parent as far as computer games go.  They are a lot more graphic and any choices that you try and make seem to be undermined by when they go over to their mates house.  We have previously said that our 14 year old is not allowed to play GTA (one of the only games which he is banned from) but find out that he’s played it when he slept over at his friends.   Should we stop him from going over there if his parents have different views?  It’s even got to the point where a group of schools sent home a letter threatening parents they could get reported to the police or social services for neglect.

And then there is the research.   A number of schools mention a piece of research from 2003 (Gentile & Anderson) which states that playing violent games can lead to the child becoming more violent themselves but the latest study I could find 11 years later by Oxford University suggests otherwise.

My case probably isn’t helped by the fact that I play GTA, Call of Duty, Titanfall, Battlefield and other 16/18+ games all the time so they are always sitting on the shelf teasing my children!  More recently I’ve compromised on the GTA thing – my oldest can play some of the online races but not the normal gameplay.  With other games I’ll normally play them a bit myself first and make my own decisions on the level of violence and what is or isn’t acceptable.

Some parents might actually say it’s better to not let them near a computer to play games at all – but scientists have now proved that children who play computer games actually make you smarter… which is obviously what’s helped me so much.

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My biggest fear right now

Terminator

Technology is growing at such an exponential rate and in a way this is great. It has clearly bought a huge amount of benefit to the world.  It’s helped save lives, save money and in general made life a lot easier for us all.

But right now the technology of the future is my greatest fear, if not for me then for my children.

I watched a genuinely fascinating keynote speech at a conference this week by Sri Sharma who has recently graduated from the Singularity University, hosted at NASAs HQ.  The 10 week course delved into the advance tech of the future include AI and VR. Hopefully the video from this keynote will be release online soon and I’m sure when it is you’ll find a link on Sri’s website or his twitter.

So why am I worried?  I guess there are two things that concern me:

The first is the most realistic and practice problem.

Jobs.

Automation is a huge risk for jobs across the world.   A recent report by the World Bank (which everyone should really read) showed that in the UK 35% of all jobs were at risk.   In other countries such as China it was as much as 77%.   In May this year, 60,000 people had their jobs replaced by Robots at just one of many manufacturing businesses.

 

So many jobs are at risk and the educational system has hardly changed since I left school 18 years ago.  Sure – they teach you how to code now but by the time my youngest child is out of school computers will most likely have taught themselves how to code.

How will the benefits system cope when there are 30-40% less jobs around?  Does the government really have a plan for this?   Considering how useless they have been over the Brexit situation, I’m hesitant to guess they don’t.

Referencing Sri again – he has covered this topic on a recent blog post so it’s worth a read.   He suggests that Basic Income could be a solution but if the Swiss referendum is anything to go by I do wonder if there will be a struggle to get something like this in play.

The second thing I worry about is a bit more “out there”.

Skynet.

Whilst Google is trying to reassure us that they are working on a kill switch to stop robots from taking over the world and killing us all, it does still worry me.   We are seeing more and more examples of AI’s growing intelligence and just today there was an article on Engadget about Google’s AI creating it’s own form of encryption which is, in my opinion, genuinely frightening.

One of the worlds leading experts in this field has said that by 2029 Robots will be smarted than humans.   Of course by then we’ll all have chips in our brains and will likely to be able to learn anything at the press of a button.

So yeah.  Not having a job won’t be an issue if Robots take over the world and we’re all killed in a robot apocalypse. Fun times ahead!

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An Introduction

I’m not going to lie to you in my first post. This is actually the second “dad blog” that I’ve setup.   The first one failed in an unspectacular fashion when I stopped posting after around 5 posts.

So what will make this any different?  Probably not a great deal, but I’ve decided to make it a little more anonymous so that when any of my boys (currently aged 14, 11 and 8) vanity search for their name in the future, they won’t (easily) find a post where I am venting about their behaviour.

So with that in mind, here is what I can tell you.

My name is James, I’m 34 years old and had children at a very young age, thinking that it’s better to explore the world and travel when I’m old and have more money to do it (still working on that).  I work in digital marketing where I often work long hours and a few times of the year have to travel out of the country for business, something that often frustrates my wife but I secretly quite enjoy.

 

If you like what you read (or even if you don’t) then you should follow me on the usual social networks.

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