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Not So Smart

Readers of last week’s blog will have discovered, by now, that my Cheltenham Festival intelligence, gathered from a friendly time-traveller, was not quite so valuable as first imagined.

I’m fast beginning to wonder whether the late Professor Stephen Hawking wasn’t right after all – and that the physical transference of the human body through time isn’t possible, or at least not without losing all knowledge of the form-book.

Which means that, not only did I waste the price of a pint of beer on my time-travelling friend, but that we may also have to re-examine other theories put forward by the eminent physicist – not least his warning that Artificial Intelligence could pose one of the greatest threats to the future of mankind.

Hawking’s view is shared by Chi Onwurah, the Shadow Science Minister who recently spoke out about the uncontrolled expansion of the internet-of-things. Onwurah was particularly anxious about the availability of smart sex-toys which, if hacked, could be located by a third-party who could then determine when they were in use and potentially take control.

Now, I’m not particularly well versed in the world of sex-toys, but getting on the wrong side of one sounds like a messy and potentially painful business – particularly if it’s being controlled by a nerdy-nosy-neighbour or, even worse, one that’s developed a mind of its own.

In fact, despite their increasing popularity, I’m reluctant to allow any so called ‘smart-appliances’ into my home, whether they be televisions, fridges, toothbrushes or Amazon’s infamous Alexa – which has apparently taken to laughing eerily at its owners in the middle of the night. Imagine the scenario: “Alexa, could you switch the television over to Racing UK please?”

“Certainly Jonathan. There’s a good meeting at Newbury this weekend.”

“Thank you Alexa. Could you put £2 on Dawson City, this week’s selection in the first race? The normal £2 will do.”

“Are you sure Jonathan? It’s not been working out too well for your tips recently. There was that non-runner on the first day of the Festival and I think your selection for Friday is still running…”

“Thank you Alexa. A bit less attitude please.” This last instruction given whilst pouring myself a nip of my favourite Speyside whisky, a delicate ‘ping’ emitting from the crystal as it connects with the neck of the bottle. Oh, the sound of bliss!

“You may have had enough whisky for now Jonathan. That is your second dram of the evening and your ninth of the week so far. On current rates of consumption, I forecast that the bottle will be empty before the end of the month. Unless you’d like to order a fresh bottle on Amazon?”

No, I say. No, and thrice NO! Stephen Hawking was right; Artificial Intelligence is a threat to our future freedom. If you value the independence of your bet-selections and your drinking habits, you’ll pull the plug on all smart devices now.

Or perhaps leave Alexa and Siri to talk to each other while you go out to enjoy the races at a nearby racecourse (Kelso’s next fixture: Saturday 7th April). Just don’t leave them alone together with one of those smart-sex-toys – who knows what you’d find when you return home.

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