Who controls the future of Britain? Ben Rubin spent 18 years transforming how companies operate, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. It didn’t take long for him to realise that the Western system is corrupt and needs replacing. In his first UK Column interview with David Scott, he discussed The Rise of Big Data in Healthcare. Ben is the founder of Rise UK and of Pattern.
On Tuesday 18 July 2023, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change hosted its 2023 conference, entitled The Future of Britain. Not many appeared to know about it. However, tucked away in a corner of Sir Tony’s website was an invitation to attend; and with free tickets to view online, Ben and Debi signed up. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer was their logic.
Who is controlling Britain? Who has the blueprint of the master plan for Britain; who, indeed, is the master of puppets? The familiar three-word phrase we have all become so used to Build Back Better, has been abandoned for a new model: Build More, Faster.
Is the population of the (not very) United Kingdom being governed by a shadow government controlled by a secret premier? Ben and Debi conduct a post mortem of the Blair event: a day where the future of Britain was revealed to the few personally invited, or those observant enough to sign up to watch.
Sir Tony’s vision for Britain (building upon the vision of the New Class which he espoused in his first term as Prime Minister, a quarter of a century ago) is a fully vaccinated population, under constant surveillance, with state-of-the-art technology to record our every move. It revolves around the Green Clean agenda, that isn’t green or clean at all. How does data figure in the future? Data is the new oil—and the UK is rich in it, thanks to each and every one of us, and to ‘our’ National Health Service out of which we cannot opt. Sir Tony’s vision is a Britain without borders; a Britain that will welcome everyone and anyone with anything to offer, regardless of age, status, past achievements or nationality—but at whose cost?
The day was littered with a feast of unlikely guests, including President Macron, the outgoing Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and the outgoing Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. There was also the Rockefeller Institute, which recently informed that it worked directly on pandemic issues with the UK Government; celebrity chef Jamie Oliver; Dragon Deborah Meadon; and even a slowly-spoken Dr Henry Kissinger, now a centenarian. However, most of the speakers proffering their vision for Britain were not from Britain. Does the UK not have any young and talented innovators, or are we to accept that those not from our shores know what is good for our country better than we do?
It would appear so. Sir Tony interviewed Sir Keir Starmer, his fellow Labour Party member and the likely next Prime Minister, about his vision for the future; but what vision is still unclear. As Sir Tony’s eyes began to glaze over, it was apparent to those watching that this episode in the day was just making a show of back-patting and a warning that what was to come would be grim. The future of Britain under such policymakers certainly can’t get better. The middle-aged and above will remember the Blair government’s campaign anthem Things Can Only Get Better—but we now have an economy in freefall, a health service that is too sick to heal anyone and an admission that ‘Britain is indeed broken’.
Is this the Britain you want for your children, your grandchildren? What can we do to change Sir Tony’s direction of travel for our beautiful country; can we stop the tech monster gobbling us all up and dumping us on some cloud somewhere, lost forever?
We are told our youngsters want more technology, more Artificial Intelligence, more Metaverse, more apps and more technology. Far from distancing themselves from their phones and tablets, they actively ask for more, without any thought to the long-term consequences. How do we persuade youngsters to go cold turkey from their comforters, those black mirrors, in favour of something else? What else can we offer them, and is there a way to encourage them to seek a better way, where technology can be used for the good and not for nefarious ends? Ben Rubin describes his vision for the future and explains that it can be done. Not all is lost, there are answers to every problem, and the people just need to get behind them.
Has the United Kingdom de-facto become the fifty-first state of the United States? Can Britain be fixed, can the public be reassured, or will the public ever trust any politician again? We can all make a difference—but are you ready to? Tough decisions, hard choices and honest, difficult conversations need to be had.
A sequel to this discussion has now been released.