Blair’s scattergun plan to rebuild the British state

Whatever the wisdom of individual policy proposals in this new Tony Blair/William Hague (former Conservative Party leader)-helmed report (and I am extremely sceptical of state-issued #DigitalID, having been deeply involved in the disastrous last two 🇬🇧 attempts), its greatest failing to me is that it proposes redesigning the entire British state on an even greater scale than the once-in-two-centuries reforms of the mid-19th century civil service which still largely prevail. In a rather scattergun manner…

One example with which I’m deeply familiar (see my bio): “Ensure that decision-makers and advisors are experts in the areas within which they are operating, as would be the case in a technology company.”

For better or worse, this is the absolute antithesis of the way the 🇬🇧 government and civil service works, and it would take a rebuilding from top to bottom to change this. This type of revolutionary change is just not the way the UK state has been reformed, for many centuries.

The report is full of breathless bullshit, eg “our current revolution is the first in history to automate cognition itself.” 🤦🏻‍♂️ (Blair is the original govtechbro.) It also calls for a 🇬🇧 “Sovereign General-Purpose AI Capability”. Really?! The usefulness, let alone feasibility of this is something for much greater debate 🤖

Hilariously, the authors also seem to want the UK to participate on an equal footing with the USA and EU on shaping global tech standards. (To be fair, neither were Brexiteers).

To try and be more positive and suggest more feasible/evolutionary/focused goals, I’d suggest the next government simply adopts Jerry Fishenden’s new book (and maybe hires him as CTO as a peer of the Cabinet Secretary to implement it)… If they must have digital ID (it is not the panacea Blair thinks) then Britain should work with existing/developing systems (eg why isn’t the UK govt already issuing credentials for the Apple Wallet?) and the EU on #eIDAS 2. It has little hope otherwise of influencing global standards.