Tea, Cakes and the Contrarian Cabbie : Cab Conversations

type - features
category - automation
category - privacy
category - society
sector - luxury
Anybody who ever takes one of London’s fabled black cabs will be familiar with a game we love playing with cabbies – to find a subject that they don’t have an opinion on.

Occasionally, riding with The Future Lab M.II, Marlowe, we even up the anti by challenging our driver to talk for 20 minutes on a chosen subject without deviation, pause, repetition or drawing breath.

True to form, most rise to the challenge, but none rose more brilliantly than cabbie Ian Ellis, who frankly stunned us with his encyclopaedic knowledge of all subjects we threw at him  – from driverless cars (no, don’t get him started on that one) to robotics, genetics, stem-cell technology, chatbots, even the role of race-neutral holographic actors in musicals. We were off to the preview of Hamilton when he hurled that one at us.

So impressed are we with his knowledge of current and future technologies that we’ve now set him his biggest challenge of all: to undertake a series of future-inspired drives around London with four passengers and a luxury afternoon tea, during which we’ll exchange banter with him about the future over cakes and a genetically modified cuppa.


Published by:

26 November 2018

Author: The Corinthia Hotel

Image: Cab Conversations


Cab Conversations

Subjects up for discussion will vary – we don’t want him swotting up too much in advance – but we’ve agreed to give him one or two hints so that he can weave some juicy facts into his equally salacious and salient opinions. So, potentially up for debate (note that word, Ian, potentially) we’ll be chatting about the following:


Date coming soon - Robotics and AI: the end of people as we know them? Ian has VERY strong opinions on this one


: Date coming soon – Frankenfoods or Frank Science: could next-generation GM save the day and food secure the planet? He likes his bacon sarnies, but tells us that he wouldn’t be averse to a bit of in-vitro meat if it came from the right laboratory


: Date coming soon –The Privacy Bump: will we get over it, and start handing over our data to do good and make us better citizens? Privacy and data are tough ones for Ian – he is no Luddite, but he has issues of trust when it comes to data-sharing and data-combining as used by Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon


These are just a few of the in-cab subjects we’re thinking about for our trips around the capital. In the interim, if you would like to join us for tea, talk and a trip in one of  London’s legendary black cabs with fellow futurenaut and cabbie Ian Ellis at the wheel, then email us at contrarian.cabbie@corinthia.com with a key question about the future  you’d like to ask him, and we’ll book you in for the ride – if it sounds like it’s going to stump him.

But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t. This chap truly is a legend among cabbies, and knows more than the combined brainpower of The Future Laboratory’s chief knowall officers.


Our Cab Conversation series runs as part of the year long Futurists-in-Residence collaboration between The Future Laboratory and The Corinthia Hotel : See upcoming events here

Dates to be released soon.

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