Robert Skidelsky revisits the Luddites’ claim that automation depresses real wages. [project-syndicate.org]
The Luddites’ rampage was at its height in 1811-12. An alarmed government sent in more troops to garrison the disturbed areas than were then available to Wellington in the Peninsular War against Napoleon. More than a hundred Luddites were hanged or transported to Australia. These measures restored peace. The machines won: the Luddites are a footnote in the history of the Industrial Revolution.
Historians tell us that the Luddites were victims of a temporary conjuncture of rising prices and falling wages that threatened them with starvation in a society with minimal welfare provision. The Luddites, however, blamed their misfortune on the machines themselves.
This week, new research number crunching millions of bits of data on breast cancer has allowed scientists to reclassify the disease into 10 different subtypes. They say this is a huge break though which will lead to new treatments and improve outcomes for women with the disease. The lead author of the Cancer Research UK study Carlos Caldas explains its impact.
The maths of politics. Stand up Mathematician Matt Parker and professor of theoretical physics Andrea Rapisarda look at the role mathematics plays in elections and the way politicians behave. Andrea argues political decisions would be improved if politicians were selected at random rather than elected, but Matt sees the mathematical flaw in electoral systems, which he likens to rolling a dice – one where the voters hardly ever get the outcome they wish for.
Its 40 years since British scientist Godfrey Hounsfield invented the CT scan. This multilayered use of x ray imagery has revolutionised the diagnosis of internal health problems and is used worldwide. We speak to Liz Beckmann, one of Godfrey Hounsfield’s former colleagues and the co author of a new book on his life and work, out this week; ‘Godfrey Hounsfield: Intuitive Genius of CT’