• neil

Day 46 (2 May): G to H


In previous ramblings on this blog (Day 33) I mentioned a 2017 McKinsey report which predicted a third of workers in the US would be replaced by automation and robots by 2030. I went on to add that ‘The appeal of robots to employers is obvious - they can work 24/7, 365 days a year, they don’t form unions, take sick leave or get pregnant, and they can work in areas that are deadly for humans such as politics.’

It took me until today to realise what I had stumbled on.

You may well have noticed there have been many different political approaches to the one common threat and whatever your political bent you may have spotted the occasional cavernous gap between the positions of politicians and health experts.

As ever, the link between logic, competence and political advancement is tenuous.

Normally, this doesn’t matter too much and most of us get on with our lives. Normally…

So while showering this morning I asked myself:

“If an advanced alien civilisation were to advise us on governing ourselves would they necessarily say “Stick with what you’ve got. It's spot on.”?

Not content just to ask the question I towelled off and phoned Geoffrey, my friend on planet Zog.

As a test I asked Geoffrey where he would choose to live if he were to come to Earth. Should he have chosen Birmingham U.K., Wuhan or anywhere in California I would have politely thanked him and rung off. But without hesitation Geoff picked Flanders in Belgium, which is where I live, and thus confirmed his good judgement.

I then asked the big question. "What form of government should we put in place at a planetary level to ensure, if not peace and harmony, at least a minimum of competence?

He said we should do what everybody else does - remove the biologicals from the process and go with AI.

I pointed out to Geoffrey that we are many years, if not many decades, away from general artificial intelligence.

He said “Dude, don’t worry. Your starting level is so low you’d do just as well with two cans and a piece of string.”

I said, “Geoff, seriously, what are you advocating here?”

I listened, I took detailed notes, and I built a prototype using what I had to hand: a toaster, two AA batteries, a wind up alarm clock, a 1983 Texas Instruments calculator and a Tamagotchi (Mametchin - by far the brightest of the bunch).

I am relying on the machine learning methodology developed by Deep Mind in the Go experiments. Mametchin seems to be getting to grips with things very quickly and has already defined as mission critical “feed them, water them, change their bedding, football, keep the lights on, beer, wine, pot for those who want it and chocolate”. I’m fighting hard to ensure “Temptation Island” doesn’t get on his list.

As a final touch I have added a classic Mac to the mix because because it has a screen. Jacinda Ahern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, will need this to oversee things.

Oh, I didn’t mention her before? Jacinda will add an undeniable ‘niceness’ to the process and her public service messages are sure to be soothing.

I suspect my only job will be to provide coaching on her vowel sounds, such as how to pronounce six without getting people’s hopes up.

Holidays: "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside” 🎶

You are going to be cross with me for saying this, but here goes:

As confinement eases, freedom of movement will progressively be regained. But I don’t imagine that freedom is going to include long plane trips. Good.

That is excellent news both for the environment and for us. We will rediscover old forgotten, close to home pleasures.

You will pile the kids into the car and head off for Filey on the North Sea Coast (or its equivalent wherever you are). After surviving two hours of “Are we there yet Dad?”

you will warm yourself in the stiff breeze and rain showers by hammering the poles of a canvas windshield into the sand with a wooden mallet. You will at no point get into your swimming togs. You will rediscover the joys of the early 60’s by wearing long, chest high flannel trousers, a woolly pullover and a blazer. You will eat ice cream, go for donkey rides and walk down the pier, if only two remark how dilapidated it is. You will return every evening to a damp and uninspiring guest house. You will eat soggy chips (fries for you others) and drink warm beer.

In short, you rediscover the real reason for taking holidays which is nothing to do with bucket lists, personal growth and, God forbid, enjoying yourself.

The reason for holidays is to experience the relief and happiness of coming home.

Take good care and phone somebody who needs it!



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