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AWS presents: Another crass PR stunt exploiting the vulnerable and forgotten to sell cloud services


NewsHubAt 8.45am this morning, I was already lording it over the whole of Westminster on the 29 th floor of the Millbank Tower. Present were the Culture Minister Karen Bradley, many uniformed,be-medalled MoD types, and Amazon Web Services, who were hosting this lovely breakfast shindig.
AWS was launching its “re:Start” skills initiative – a scheme, it said, to supply IT training to many of the UK’s less able IT users to learn, as Bradley added: “basic digital skills to function in society”.
UK and Ireland AWS MD Gavin Jackson opened proceedings by inviting us to gaze out of the window at the London vista below, stating that “if the Monopoly board was designed today, its utilities would include cloud computing”. He spent the next ten minutes reminding the audience how many UK cloud data centres AWS had opened recently. Each slide came complete with data centre-based “Region Launch” branding, just to hammer home that cloud “message”.
MoD CIO Mike Stone followed with a brief mention of the importance of skills, before emphasising – apropos of nothing – that “we need to embrace mobility and the cloud, and the cloud is the force that’s going to allow us to do that. ” Buzzword bingo.
Karen Bradley echoed the already-tired Monopoly sentiment – mentioning cloud again, natch – before bringing up how 12.6 per cent of “adults” (not “young people, as featured in this scheme) don’t know how to use computers to the extent they need to in order live a fulfilled life.
What she didn’t mention was how her government have closed 343 of the UK’s libraries since 2010 – a prime source of IT education for older, disabled or other marginalised folk. I know this first hand because I used to be a librarian, and saw the amazing results. Neither did she mention how continuing, stringent cuts to disability benefits are affecting the opportunities of disabled people to live on a basic level , before they even get near a keyboard.
Then we were treated to a spectacular repackaging of Brexit by the CBI’s deputy director-general Josh Hardie – “We decided it wasn’t right that London has 60 per cent greater productivity than Northern Ireland”.
Did we? I thought we swallowed a bunch of lies on the side of a bus and stopped ‘trusting experts’.

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