It is a haphazard business trying to convert an idea into reality. Even for people full of self-confidence, there are often times of doubt and worry – this is normal and to be embraced.

Haphazard Business is developing a new kind of freely accessible public Innovation Hub to raise awareness how AI and other advanced technologies be can lead to better education, jobs, community and society. The hub will provide demonstrations, support and advice for people interested in using AI enhanced technologies to further their career, passion or education.

See below for research behind the hub development and to learn more get in touch here.


Recent Posts

    Our virtual house with its own venue is now operational, and people love it! We are open for viewing. Come and glimpse the future.
    Fourth Portal Lucia House is our virtual house and forms the backbone to the Fourth Portal real-world hybrid venue business.
    Season 3 of the Discussion Festival begins in January 2023 with the theme of developing connections that build meaningful relationships.
    The Mind Room was the unexpected star of the Fourth Portal stage 2 testing. Displayed on the walls were paintings by Kevin Gavaghan. In this 15-minute video, Kevin speaks candidly about his mental health struggles and discusses the relief painting can bring and why visitors engaged as they did with the Mind Room.
    The feedback from people visiting the Fourth Portal in Great Yarmouth has surpassed expectations. This second test stage focused on whether the real-world layout would stimulate conversations on the likelihood of technology improving people’s lives and reducing human impact on the planet.
    Students from The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment, spent four days at the Fourth Portal. Using emotional mapping software, students engage people in Great Yarmouth to gauge body reactions to the built environment when walking around the town.
    The first real-world hybrid live event using the developing Lucia House online platform took place at the Fourth Portal. Four years in development, the event highlighted the challenges of merging virtual and physical spaces. 
    The picture appears bleak for the Future of Work. That’s the impression taken away from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ai. The session involved legislators hearing evidence on the impact of Ai on workers.
    Stage two of the Fourth Portal testing has begun in Great Yarmouth. It will introduce the hybrid LiftPod, developing the provenance system and other technologies. 
    We have now completed our 6-week Fourth Portal popup test in Great Yarmouth. The reaction has been positive despite not completing all the tasks we set ourselves. Testing the business model will extend for two further months over autumn 2022. 
    Week 4 (of 6) at the Fourth Portal Great Yarmouth popup. These weeks are to iron out the wrinkles in the business plan and to reconnect with suppliers and the broader P7 network. Things are going well, and most importantly, it’s fun!
    The Semantic Web (or Web 3.0) is an extension of the World Wide Web (WWW). Whereas the WWW has been built for humans to read, the Semantic Web is for machines to read. The Fourth Portal will be embedding concepts of the Semantic Web into the Fourth Portal.
    Paper making and the printing press have been critical innovations throughout modern human evolution. Paper and printing will form an important aspect of the Fourth Portal. The following blog post is on Norfolk Paper Mills, by Joe Mason, from 2016, following the industrial paper making process in Norfolk. There is … Continue reading PAPER-MILLS IN NORFOLK
    The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring many challenges. As the world goes virtual, the role of public gathering places will need addressing. The Town Square must again become the centre of local discourse. If not, the 4IR may become known as the Period of Polarisation.
    Eivissa, a municipality on the Spanish island of Ibiza, is changing. A seedy, shabby town 25 years ago, it is transforming into a distinctive city. Part 1 of 2. First impressions.
    It is three years since the outbreak of COVID-19. Discussions have turned to what the post-pandemic world may look like. Technology is at the forefront. Lost within the debates has been the importance of public space. As the world goes virtual, real-world gathering places will become the hot issue.
    The lines between privacy, censorship and freedom of speech blurred as the internet evolved. This blurring is where the battle for social media is happening. Only real-world dialogue and understanding will produce a solution fair to all. It‘s unfair accusing governments of abdicating duty around online communication. The issues are … Continue reading CENSORSHIP
    Apple focusing on privacy is proving to be beneficial for customers. Unfortunately, the high cost of products deters many from owning a device. This brings into focus the price of online security. Is it becoming a two-tier internet when it comes to privacy?
    Arriving at the shabby-chic North Norfolk seaside town of Cromer, I was taken aback by how little it resembles Great Yarmouth and spent a very pleasant day strolling the lovely streets and excellent beaches.
    This pictographic post of Great Yarmouth captures the middle and last weekends of the holiday High-Season and indicates the hoped for 2021 Summer Staycation boom was a muted affair, leaving a bleak outlook for the businesses still operating.
    A Great Yarmouth gem and must see museum, the Time and Tide presents an outstanding permanent collection documenting the rich history of the town’s fishing industry and offers a sober reflection on the challenges it continues to face. In addition, there are two marvellous galleries for touring shows, presently housing the terrific Fisherwomen exhibition, by Craig Easton.
    The Dickensian living conditions of thousands trapped in Great Yarmouth is tragic. Life is more akin to an open prison surrounded by walls made from poverty. The up-and-coming holiday resort the council is trying to promote is a long way off.
    Hot on the heels of the deprivation and poverty in Great Yarmouth league of crimes against the local people comes the food violence, a bombardment of high salt, high sugar, high fat, low nutrient ready made, mainly processed food wrapped up in expensive marketing packaging that is already causing a major health crisis.
    A series of photo snaps providing the first impression of Great Yarmouth at the mid-point of peak holiday season shows a town still struggling badly, although the rate of decline appears to have slowed and there is a tiny glimmer of potential for recovery. 
    Returning to Great Yarmouth for the first time since moving away in May 2021, this post touches on some of the trepidation of returning to the deprived seaside town and catching up with the Haphazard Business blog posts.
    Seeing Kamala Harris huge happy smile brings me back to what I wrote exactly 4 years ago, as Donald Trump was confirmed US President. Vice-President Harris represents ‘the first flower open[ing] through a crack on the rocky path where only the ignored moss seemingly existed.’
    A series of postcard-esque photographs of attractive locations in Great Yarmouth responding to a new swimming pool building due to blight the seafront from 2022 onwards.
    Photo gallery of the emerging Paget Garden. The garden at the pub had pots of neglected plants. Nurturing them back to health became an idea for a new app game. A fun introduction to AI and other algorithmic technologies.
    The local NHS hospital is named after an inspirational local man named James Paget, who was a pioneer of pathology and the inspiration for a game and garden that will begin introducing AI technologies to the people of Great Yarmouth.
    As an outsider coming into Great Yarmouth, it was essential to find a hook, so linking a local man from the 1800s, James Paget with technology and AI may prove to provide the perfect avenue of engagement.
    Believe in Yarmouth: Catch the Tide is Gillian Harwood’s personal manifesto to turn the fortunes of Great Yarmouth and assist with the transition into becoming a Fourth Industrial Revolution town. Gillian Harwood owns the site of Fourth Portal B and is investing in restoring buildings in the town of Great … Continue reading CATCH THE TIDE
    The Fourth Industrial Revolution is very likely to tear up the rulebook and opening the Fourth Portal in an old alehouse may provide a good real world example of how people react when old rules are overturned.
    Eighteen months after setting off on this Haphazard Business journey, stage one has completed with the opening of the first Innovation Hub today and beginning the next chapter, as I document trying to establish this enterprise in a time of Covid-19 and no live events.
    UK Prime Minister Johnson ululates ‘return to normality’ as pubs in England reopen post lockdown, however things are not returning to pre-2020 normalcy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is only going to further accelerate the process of fundamental change to the way we live.
    The Fourth Portal opens in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in mid-July 2020, the next stage on this Haphazard.Business journey documenting how an idea becomes reality. (2mins)
    The methods used in curating long-term art interventions in public spaces over the past decade is proving useful grounding for developing new economic spaces for these challenging Covid times.
    Photo gallery documenting docks, seafront and wider Great Yarmouth in lockdown as holiday season begins, Easter 2020.
    With Covid-19 ravaging populations and the World trying to come to terms with lockdown, it seems an appropriate moment to reactivate this Platform-7 project from 2013 exploring the trauma that follows on from a sudden shocking change in circumstance.
    Does the name Haphazard Business seem less abstract than two weeks ago? The haphazard response to the Covid-19 epidemic around the world provides a stark reminder how quickly situations can change and the importance of being open and nimble when faced with sudden disruption.
    Starting a business is always somewhat Haphazard, however a gas leak, no water, weeks of storms, and Coronavirus initiating a stock market crash has been a little more than was bargained for … and Brexit is still yet to come! (2min read)
    Introducing the second Haphazard hub, which will open during March 2020 and slowly evolve over the coming 12 months from a traditional old British boozer into an innovation hub fit for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
    In advance of opening two Haphazard hubs, this post documents the struggling retail sector in the English seaside resort of Great Yarmouth, which is experiencing rapid decline, like many provincial towns in the UK. (15mins incl. videos)
  • INTRODUCING StonecutterSpace
    This 5-minute film introduces the new Haphazard hub space, shortly after collecting the keys on Friday 31st January 2020, 12:00pm; recorded live as I walked around for the first time.
    The Innovators by Walter Isaacson provides ample examples how the Information Age is a result of collaboration, with artists, creatives, impresarios and entrepreneurs always being as important as the engineers and scientists; and nurturing spaces a necessity for innovation (2min read).
    In this Opinion piece in the London Financial Times, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), outlines why there is urgent need for regulation of AI, and that ‘companies cannot just build new technology and let market forces decide how it will be used’ (4min read).
    The new haphazard Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) innovation hub will quietly open this month in the English coastal town of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, a location that reflects in microcosm, many of the issues the UK suffers today outside of the big cities. (3min read)
    The first Haphazard innovation hub will open in January 2020, following ten months of assessing various locations, attending numerous events and conducting intensive research on the likely future impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Read more … (2mins read)
    Elements of AI is a FREE online course from the University of Helsinki for everyone interested in learning what AI is, what is possible (and not possible) with AI, and how it affects our lives – with no complicated math or programming required. (1min read)
    In this FT podcast, the director of UCL’s new AI institute, Prof. David Barber discusses the importance of interdisciplinarity, need for innovation and having a wider public conversation about AI and potential impact, as this technology begins touching all our lives. (Read 1min | Listen 32min)
    In Finland, there are ongoing trials teaching prisoners the basics of AI and algorithms. It is part of a wider programme by the University of Helsinki “to reach out beyond the highly educated and tech-savvy audiences of typical online courses.”
    Amazon is considering licensing its Go supermarket technology to other retailers. The impact on jobs and the broader economy could be significant. Low-skill supermarket workers the algorithms replace may struggle to find alternative employment.
    The Haphazard Business blog post Ambitious Gateway has made the local Mercury newspaper, discussing the radical idea of moving the 140 years-old Winter Gardens to become the welcome beacon of Great Yarmouth. (1min read)
  • WHAT IS 4IR?
    As we head towards opening Britain’s first 4IR public hub portal, it is probably a good time to reflect on what 4IR otherwise known as Fourth Industrial Revolution may actually mean. (3min read)
    Responding to the Ambitious Idea of moving the 140 years-old Winter Gardens to the site of the Greater Anglia train station in Great Yarmouth, retired city planner, David Pigram* responds to why and how this might work. (3min read)
    Could a radical idea of moving the last seaside Victorian cast iron and glass Winter Gardens in the world become the inspiration for a faded Edwardian seaside resort, and a beacon for entrepreneurs seeking to advance the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
    In this Royal Society paper, the authors argue that, while there is no shortage of sound ethical principles in robotics and AI, there is little evidence that those principles have yet translated into practice, i.e. effective and transparent ethical governance. Ethical practice starts with the individual, and emerging professional codes of ethical conduct. As a starting point for discussion they propose five pillars of good ethical governance.
    In a world that’s increasingly litigious over intellectual property (IP), the challenge for entrepreneurs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution may well be how to adapt hardware and software to local needs without being issued with a Cease and Desist notice from an overeager law firm.
    University College London (UCL) AI vision ‘AI for people and planet’ seeks to position AI (Artificial Intelligence) as a force for good in the world. Members of the public are engaging increasingly with machine learning algorithms each day, often with little idea that a machine is responding on a chat … Continue reading ADDRESSING AI CONCERNS
    The Coded Gaze is the term used by technologist and poet, Joy Buolamwini to cleverly describe, in a fascinating 8-min TED talk, the bias that exists within many machine algorithms and risks this poses to society. (1min read)
    Start-ups are creating a large proportion of new jobs, which is why global cities are vying to attract nimble young companies. Yet, these same cities are creating barriers for those wishing to set up business and this provides opportunity for smaller towns to become MicroHubs. (5min read) Job Creation It … Continue reading TOWNS AS MICROHUBS
    With the EU classifying ‘consumers’ in general as ‘vulnerable’, the need to diversify the workforce creating Ai-enabled technology is becoming ever more urgent if we are to stop the risks from unintended biases. (3mins read)
    How will local needs and demands be met by small-scale entrepreneurs in an Ai-enabled world where machines have few moving parts and much of the software is proprietary? (2min read)
    The Innovation Hub will be an environment where the public and entrepreneurs come together to learn more about the latest advances in technology being developed inside companies and university labs (2min read).
  • AI HUB
    With Ai embedded technologies pervading life in general, whether wanted or not, an objective of the Innovation Hub will be to raise awareness of what is already available and the opportunities these innovations offer to improve people’s lives (5min read).
    Not all hubs need a physical space; many form around a dynamic charismatic individual who creates a unique community that becomes like an orchestra, making a greater impact collectively than any individual player could achieve alone (5min read).
    Margate needs a leader to take it to the next stage to becoming a Creative Industries Hub, until then it is down to Turner Contemporary and Dreamland to lead the way (4min read).
    Discovering a small retail park with a host of excellent independent businesses in rural England, creating a perfect commercial hub, was a particularly fine surprise (2min read)
    The Haphazard trip has prematurely ended due to an issue with Brook the camper van’s engine. (1min read).
    Cliftonville in Kent has many of the ingredients to becoming an east Kent hub for the creative industries, particularly design and small tech start ups, if only the powers embrace the area. (10mins read).
    Potential for Herne Bay in Kent to reinvent itself as a forward-looking dynamic, economically vibrant town is stifled by nostalgia for a faded golden period. (3mins read)

More on the original outline of the Haphazard trip

There was no fixed route or direction of travel. The journey was dictated by events, recommendations, invitations, weather, roadworks, and just randomly stopping. The intention was to mimic the sense of haphazardness often felt when starting a business, developing a useful product or creating an artwork.

The menu (hamburger top left corner) contains blog posts, photos, recordings and short videos of places visited, interviews and discussions on how ideas emerge, creating stimulating discussion and debate.

Feel free to comment or write a guest blog post. Welcome along…


This is a self-funded project, any donations to Haphazard Business are very welcome. Thanks John M


John M

5 thoughts on “UPDATE SEP 2019

  1. In my view, if anything the world is becoming less predictable and forecasting is guess work. If you have an objective in mind then you need to ensure that your approach is agile and that you can adapt what you are doing by comparing where you are with where you want to be. Planning years ahead and expecting to achieve the end goal without adapting won’t usually get you where you want ot be although Universities such as the one I work at do take such an approach.

    1. Thanks for comment Carol, there are other comments along similar lines appearing in regards the need for agility. Karl Richter mentions the need of coping mechanisms for the ‘current mega trends re increasing uncertainty and unpredictability’ (Haphazard Routine) and Prof. John Wood touches on the idea ‘auspicious combinations’ (Abundant Choice), which can create a synergy from two or more perceived negatives.

      The question this poses is how much agility can a person/organisation build into a plan? With such rapid improvement in technology and the unstable political situation likely to continue for a long period, is the risk decision makers just sit on their hands?
      John M

  2. survival of the fittest, those that adapt will survive, the Kodak’s of this world won’t. If your plan does not have a mechanism for feedback and acting on it like many public secotr organisations it wil eventually fail. People who manage more established businesses are probably at the highest risk and the most likely to sit on their hands till it is too late.

    1. Your response prompted me to look up Kodak to see what it is up to these days. I became friends with an ex-Kodak exec who gives a fantastic talk on the Kodak collapse, and highlights some of the things you mention here. This Kodak video from 2014 , https://youtu.be/Dmy167ABd3E discusses the journey of their new SONORA system, and clearly feedback is front and centre in the General Manager’s mind and how they have been expanding the business. This might be a good case study for later in this project. Thanks, John M

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