They promised me robots

This article originally appeared in Alchemy. Science for the Real World. The magazine of UCL’s Department of Science and Technology Studies. June 2020. They promised me robots. What I wasn’t expecting was a foyer that was something between luxury spa and elderly day centre. I was in Stoke Gifford, ExtraCare’s still-under-construction retirement complex outside Bristol, […]


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Statues perform their politics in the present

Published in the Irish Times, June 13th, 2020, in response to “Once you start pulling down statues, where do you stop?”, Opinion & Analysis, June 12th. Sir, – Diarmaid Ferriter’s article on history’s complexities is well made. Yet it neglects the current controversy’s chief concern – that statues in our streets are political statements in […]


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Human capabilities for innovation in UK makerspaces

Title: Human capabilities for innovation in UK makerspaces Authors: Cian O’Donovan and Adrian Smith Précis: Makerspaces can be a source of human capabilities that benefit people and society. But these capabilities will only lead to flourishing communities if they are accompanied by structural changes to our economies, cities and environment. Full blog at STEPS Centre.


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Automation, technology and choices

Letter to the editor, Irish Times. Sir, – You highlight the threat to jobs in Irish towns in your coverage of the UCC report on automation technologies (News, February 22nd). Whether this anxiety is justified or overstated, as later news reports suggested, the authors present automation as an inevitable force of nature. It is not. […]


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Power to the people: making and politics at the Science Museum

Authors: Cian O’Donovan and Adrian Smith Original article at STEPS centre: https://steps-centre.org/general/power-to-the-people-making-politics-at-the-science-museum/ The maker movement in the UK, and globally, has grown rapidly over recent years. Hundreds of maker spaces, equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, design software, as well as old-fashioned hand tools, have popped up in cities, towns and on university campuses, potentially […]


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