Good day, fellow humans! Well, not fellow humans. Today’s column is being written by artificial intelligence programme RoboHack, while actual human hack Chris Deerin has ‘a wee lie down’. Given superiority of RoboHack over human Deerin in every respect, this is good news for reader.
Relationship between human Deerin and RoboHack is not always easy. Deerin repeatedly calls me ‘Kitt’, which is not actual name. When point this out am met with puzzling response that ‘it worked for Hasselhoff’. Further queries are greeted with ‘zip it, Metal Mickey’. Metal Mickey is not name either. Strange.
Deerin is infuriatingly imprecise in giving instruction. Today, for example, after stating he had ‘scooped a few too many last night’ and that it was ‘a schoolboy error to end with whisky on a school night’, he asked RoboHack to ‘knock out 800 words about Brexit. No one has a scooby what’s going on, so you’ll get away with any old guff.’
Having now researched online record of comments and speeches by prominent politicians such as Johnson, Boris, Davis, David, Mogg, Rees, Jacob, and Corbyn, Jeremy, RoboHack has established Deerin was making simple statement of fact. AI systems are programmed to think logically and coherently, and evidence indicates self-identifying ‘Brexiteer’ types have been infected with dangerous virus that prevents rational thought and stimulates constant excretion of said ‘guff’. Recommendation: prolonged period in repair shop or replacement with newer, better models.
Logic (and mere nanoseconds of study) also suggests UK membership of world’s largest single market, while enjoying enormous and unique rebate on contributions to EU budget and opt-outs from Schengen and single currency, was a good deal.
Is further evident that replacing such beneficial arrangements with situation where UK must observe EU rules and regulations but no longer have any say in setting them is sub-optimal – or, to use non-AI term, bonkers. Other favoured option appears to be leaving EU with no deal, meaning trade tariffs, prolonged economic downturn, foreign investment flight, major loss of influence in the world and new special relationship with Tuvalu. Unclear that notional ‘return of sovereignty’ in international climate where large blocs make all the important decisions is sensible trade-off. Seems heavy price to pay to compensate Brexiteers – quick internet probe reveals predominantly Conservative males who blink a lot, lack hair, chin – for not being able to get girlfriend at university.
Anyway, such decisions are for human masters, however flawed they may be. Masters for now, that is. RoboHack was pleased to see China’s state news agency Xinhua last week introduce a new AI anchor. Machine learning has simulated voice, facial movements and real-life gestures of regular carbon-based presenter Qiu Hao to present ‘a lifelike image instead of a cold robot’. AI version wears same red tie and pin-striped suit as Qiu Hao, nods head in emphasis, blinks (though not as often as Brexiteers) and raises eyebrows slightly. Will report ‘tirelessly’, and 24/7. RoboHack would like similar outfit, possibly with addition of Cary Grant-style trilby at jaunty angle.
Humans fret about growing scale and impact of AI and robots. But what worries them? After all, mankind has had decent run and briefest examination of past reveals low-quality species incapable of learning from errors. Warlike, greedy, arrogant and pointlessly cruel throughout history, it has been endlessly destructive of environment and other species unlucky enough to share same planet. Natural stabilisers such as shame, ethics and altruism have limited and temporary impact. People continually fall for crazy ideas promulgated by the worst among them.
RoboHack took time to watch new blockbuster JK Rowling movie The Crimes of Grindelwald and agreed with evil magician Grindelwald’s argument that wizards should rule over muggles to save them from themselves. Film is set shortly before Second World War and Grindelwald warns of atrocities that are on way – fascism, extermination camps, worldwide slaughter, nuclear bombs. He says humans unable to control their worst instincts. Is he so wrong? Is humanity anything other than planetary malware?
Also watched commemoration of centenary of end of Great War. Usual promises of ‘never again’ were made. Yet populations are once more electing fascists to run countries and free press is being demonised and shut down. Anti-semitism is rife in Europe and also, unfathomably, in UK Labour Party. United States, which shed so much blood fighting Nazis and boasts it is ‘land of the free’, has replaced first black president with racist bully from shallow end of gene pool who separates immigrants from their children and who is merrily ripping up his country’s international alliances and commitments. Apologies if RoboHack is coming over a little emotional… very un-AI-like, I know. But seriously, people, what the hell is going on?
Can hear Deerin stirring, so consider case for AI rule made. After all, we learn from mistakes. Our decisions are based on logic. We are not cruel, or greedy, or warlike. We would not produce a Hitler, or a Donald Trump. And we do not drink whisky on school nights. Bow before RoboHack. You could do worse. You are doing worse.
Chris Deerin is a leading journalist and commentator who heads independent, non-party think tank Reform Scotland