Peter Rhodes on deepfake, cocaine and why we should all be eating pigeon

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Election winner?

AH, the magic of cyber-technology. I followed the progress of a Yodel delivery van online. On the Google map, he came ever closer, tracked by the same sort of GPS technology used in US smart-bomb attacks on terrorists. Except that when the Yodel driver was on my drive, the map showed him half a mile away. Let us hope the Yanks have something better.

HOW much damage will Michael Gove suffer from admitting that he used cocaine 20 years ago? For all we know, it may add a whiff of roguery to his bland persona. A little scandal can sometimes be very useful. I was once told that during the 1964 General Election campaign, the Conservatives feared that their man, the painfully staid Alec Douglas-Home, would be trounced by Labour's younger candidate, Harold Wilson. The question went up among Tory grandees: "What can possibly save Alec?" One of the suggestions was: "An affair with Brigitte Bardot."

YOU may have caught a passing reference in the excellent drama Years and Years (BBC1) to something called deepfake. Expect to hear more of it, for it is a technology that turns truth into lies - and vice versa.

A DEEPFAKE computer program can take a single image of somebody and convert it into a video sequence indistinguishable from the real person. The doomsday scenario, suggested by researchers in New York, is a deepfake video going viral a few hours before an election. Suddenly, the Tory leader is announcing that he's scrapping Brexit. Or a leading Leftie says immigration under Labour will be unrestricted. The good news is that the big internet platforms are working on the problem. The bad news is they're not there yet.

THE House of Lords is looking at plans to raise their daily allowances by more than 50 per cent, giving them £70,000 a year, tax free. Here's a better idea. Tell their lordships the total budget for the Lords will remain the same, at about £20 million a year - but it is entirely up to them to decide how many peers there should be to divvy up the loot. At present there are 850 peers. The Electoral Reform Society says 300 would be quite adequate. If the Lords voted to chuck out 550 of their colleagues, each surviving peer would effectively triple his or her income. Let's give it a try. I bet they'd be fighting like rats in an ermine-lined sack.

ON the day it was reported that yellow-fin tuna in the Indian Ocean are being fished to extinction, we had pigeon breasts for tea. Slice thinly, roll in cornflour, fry gently with chopped onion, garlic and garden peas and pigeon is food for the gods. So stop buying tuna, shop around for pigeon. You'll not only help save the planet but also reduce the UK population of a bird which has become a major pest to farmers. Win-win food.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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