The Battle of Britain

I’m off tonight to London and then Oxford, where Erik and I have kindly been invited to participate in Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford, an annual event that’s part of Silicon Valley Comes to the UK. I’m looking forward to many things, including catching up with maven Sherry Coutu, former student Adam Nash, dissertation chair David Upton, Dean Peter Tufano, and lots of other folk I haven’t seen in too long. We’ll also get to tour the Bodleian Library and see a lot of the kinds of old British things that make Americans swoon. I’ll try to not say “Gee, Whiz!” or otherwise show my innate hick-ness too often or too obviously.

The highlight of the trip, though, will certainly be participating in a debate at the Oxford Union. The motion we’ll be debating is

This House believes that the average worker is being left behind by advances in technology

It’s inspired directly by Race Against the Machine, and in fact is an almost verbatim quote from the book. So Erik and I will be on the proposing team, along with Patrick Chung and the legendary Reid Hoffman (recently called “Tech’s Go-To Guy“).

I’d feel sorry for the opposing team if it were also not composed of heavy hitters: Kim Polese, Padmasree Warrior (how’s that for a debater’s last name?), Tom Hayes, and Kal Patel.

But come to think of it, I feel sorry for them anyway. The theory and evidence are just so clearly on our side that they’re in big trouble. They’ll have to resort to every possible trick and technique —  pandering to the audience, resorting to ad hominem attacks, twisting our words, pointing out that Erik and I come from Cambridge, and so on — in order to even have any hope.

Which means, of course, that the evening will be a massive amount of fun, after which we’ll all go upstairs in the Union and toast each other while waiting for the results to come in.

I’ll post my debate wrap-up / victory lap after it’s over. I don’t think the it’ll be streamed live, but it will be filmed and made available later; I’ll let you know where and when.

Wish us luck!