Tom Yam
Tom Yam
Tom Yam is a Hong Kong-based management consultant with a doctorate in electrical engineering and an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He has worked at AT&T, Ernst & Young and IBM. He is also a member of the Citizens Task Force on Land Resources, a group of professionals dedicated to broadening and facilitating the debate on critical issues including sustainable development, the optimal uses of land, and the conservation of resources.

With the proposal for the Lantau project, the Hong Kong government is either misleading the public, or guilty of magical thinking. It seems to believe residents can move in eight years after such a complex project begins.


Not only are the cost and revenue estimates used by the government to argue the case for Lantau Tomorrow dubious under scrutiny, its promise of more affordable housing and better quality of life is also far-fetched.

The rising tide of voices in favour of large-scale reclamation as the only solution to Hong Kong’s housing crisis is based on skewed numbers and represents the interests of the developer and big business lobby that will profit from the scheme.


Many mathematicians, including fellow Nobel laureates, have delved further into the game theory he pioneered at the age of only 22.

Tomorrow, the Legislative Council's Finance Committee faces a crucial vote on whether to fund the Environment Bureau's mega incinerator to be built on Shek Kwu Chau island.

Will we ever again see a Newton, a Darwin or an Einstein - scientists who decoded the laws of nature using nothing more than brainpower and a few simple tools? Or can the human mind no longer make fundamental breakthroughs in science without the aid of supercomputers, space missions and enormous expenditure?

Writing a science and technology column, you tend to get caught up in the newest or Next Big Thing - Big Data, big discoveries, high-speed trains, high-speed trading. And living in Hong Kong in the Pearl River Delta region of mass production and massive infrastructure, you're immersed in the mentality that bigger is better and hi-tech is best.

The irony could not have been more jarring. As the world waited with bated breath while American politicians decided whether to tip the United States into debt default, three American economists were jointly awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics.

China announced its plan to build an express rail network in 2004; three years later, commercial high-speed trains began running on the first line, between Shenyang and Qinhuangdao in the northeast. Construction of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line commenced in April 2008 and commercial service less than three years later.

Edward Snowden's exposé of cavalier cyberspying by the US and Britain is neither explosive nor even surprising. Intelligence-gathering on friend and foe using the most advanced technology of the day to protect national interest or achieve strategic advantage is as old as the Trojan wars. What his whistle-blowing does highlight is how technology in our digital age has changed the scale of the spying, with "big data" becoming "big brother". But we knew that already, didn't we?

No mathematician should ever allow himself to forget that mathematics, more than any art or science, is a young man's game," the British mathematician G.H. Hardy wrote in A Mathematician's Apology. But the older guys are now catching up.

In the rapidly developing technology of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), machines are "hearing" and understanding spoken language, and performing actions on verbal commands.

The accumulation and analysis of zettabytes of data does not lend itself to narrating on a human scale to non-techies (and for non-techies, a zettabyte is 1 followed by 21 zeros).

Will Henry Tang Ying-yen go to jail? The former chief secretary recently resurfaced to talk about the issue that torpedoed his bid to become Hong Kong's chief executive and could land him or his wife in prison: the illegally constructed 2,250 sq ft basement discovered at their home in February last year.