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London Tech Week: there's never been a better time to work in technology in London

Every month I do a regular paper review for TalkRadio where I dive into the newspapers and pick out the most interesting technology stories for discussion with my former LBC colleague and broadcaster James Max.

When I started doing this nearly a year ago, it could be a challenge to find enough stories to sustain a half hour chat - but increasingly all roads lead to technology.

To coincide with London Tech Week Monday's papers were dominated with tech stories. Not all of it was positive of course.


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Doing my monthly paper review at Talk Radio this morning

In particular the front page of the Telegraph which announces a brand new 'Duty of Care' campaign. The paper have come out fully for greater regulation of the tech giants saying that "social media and online gaming firms should have a statutory 'duty of care' to protect children from mental ill health, abuse and addictive behaviour..."  

In the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal it is hardly surprising that this view is gaining more and more support.

But while in one paper there are calls for greater regulation of the tech giants, the Guardian featured comments from the man whose job it would be to make this happen. Matt Hancock - famous mainly for launching an app titled 'Matt Hancock' - is the Secretary of State for Digital and calls the current tech landscape 'the Wild West.'  He has admitted in the past that far more needs to be done.

However in today's piece by Alex Hern, Hancock says that the way to keep kids safe is to forbid them from having mobile phones - and that his own 11 year old is not allowed one.  "I allow my children to do their homework online, but I don't let them on social media. Why do they need phones, they're children, they're 11?"  He also argues that the French approach, where they have legislation to prevent phones in classrooms would be a step too far.

These tricky issues will continue to define our world. Whether it's the impact on elections, our young people, healthcare and the future of work, technology is now no longer a niche issue covered purely as a subsection - it is becoming the unifying thread through which all of our lives, experiences and relationships are led.

"technology is now no longer a niche issue......it is becoming the unifying thread through which all of our lives, experiences and relationships are led."

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Another story doing the rounds in the tech world - Elon Musk's new offering. Called 'Not a Flamethrower' despite looking and acting just like a flamethrower.

Why does this matter? Well for us at Marlin we are proud to be working with companies we believe are in it for the right reasons. Whether it's Slack making flexible and remote working possible for large teams- or Photobox Group's emotionally intelligent algorithms- it is fascinating to witness first hand as companies grapple with these ethical challenges and opportunities up close.  What fills me with optimism about the future is that in the most part, these firms are full of passionate idealists, simply working to solve everyday problems.

Here in London, as tech week begins once again, that approach is being noticed.  I recently returned from a trip to Silicon Valley to visit some of our clients and they now view London as Europe's number 1 technology destination.

Having covered London news for many years as a journalist I remember when the roundabout where Old Street meets the City Road used to be the extent of our tech offering.  Now we host the world leading artificial intelligence company DeepMind, as well as being the undisputed home of fintech, a sector recently valued by the Treasury as being worth £7bn to the UK economy.

The frenetic pace of life here in London is equally part of the DNA of the tech firms that inhabit it. One of our clients recently likened it trying to rebuild a 747 in flight, because there is no room to stop or slow down or you'll be overtaken.

So while London Tech Week may not see a let up in the pace of innovation - there will no doubt be a moment or two when we can look at how far we've come - before contemplating how much of this journey still lies ahead.

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Date Published

June 11, 2018

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