Friday, 14 February 2014

The end of Windows XP

Microsoft end support for Windows XP on April 8 2014.  The 13 year old operating system, a big success in its day, has reached the end of the road.

If you have any computers running this software, they will still work normally on April 9th.  However, the constant upgrading and patching that goes on in the background will stop.  The end of support is a green light to hackers and virus writers meaning that these computers are practically certain to come under attack and may well quickly become unusable.

This is no small problem.  According to Net Applications, nearly 30% of the world was still using XP at the end of December 2013.

Sadly, there is no option but to upgrade or replace the XP computer, even if it remains perfectly serviceable.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

What's the future of work?

Technological change at a breakneck pace means that many jobs are at risk of being replaced by automation or outsourcing.  A few years ago, driving a car was one task for which it was thought that computers could never replace humans.  Yet Google's driverless cars are now happily cruising the freeways of California, giving taxi drivers and truckers much to worry about.  

So what other jobs might be under threat?  Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of the University of Oxford researched a wide variety of types of work and calculated the likelihood of jobs being lost to automation over the next two decades.  Bad news for shop workers, telemarketers and accountants, where the probability was well over 90%.  Better news for dentists, personal trainers and vicars, where the risk is well below 1%.  (Data from The Economist.)

It seems as though the safest place to be is a profession requiring person-to-person contact, where little standardisation of the work is possible.  There, or in a robot factory.