Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on the wrong Tom, awkward apostrophes and good news for the workshy

Geoffrey Hinton, the former Google guru known as “the Father of Artificial Intelligence,” is having second thoughts about his creation. He declares: “Sometimes I think it’s as if aliens had landed and people haven’t realised because they speak very good English.”

Not that Tom

As fans of sci-fi films know, you can always spot an alien by their patient approach to the English language. For example, an alien will never say “Earth's doomed” or “You're my prisoner,” much preferring the lengthier constructions “Earth is doomed” and “You are my prisoner.” Aliens may have the technology to zap around the universe at time-warp speeds but they still can't handle the apostrophe.

There are other ways of spotting AI at work. I recently wrote a piece about the debut novel written by Tom Hanks and referred to him throughout as Tom Cruise. You don't get that sort of literature from Artificial Intelligence. Or indeed from any other form of intelligence.

Keir Starmer's manifesto will make striking easier and defend the right to work from home. I am reminded of the former BBC political editor Andrew Marr who once remarked that no political party would ever campaign on the slogan “All power to the workshy.” We're getting there.

Did you notice that, for the benefit of its global audience, BBC News began its coverage of the Phillip Schofield story by explaining who Phillip Schofield is? For a moment, it put the whole ballyhoo and massive media-overkill into perspective. In the great scheme of things, the decline and fall of one TV presenter doesn't amount to a hill of beans. And yet, with so much fallout in such a short time, you can't help wondering what else will be revealed.

Incidentally, the young TV worker in the Schofield case is described as a runner, which is a curiously dated term. In the days of the British Raj, letters were delivered by an India-wide network of mail runners. Surely a job description from the wicked old Empire can't have found its way into the woke world of television?

I'm still puzzled by the Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters wearing a Nazi-style uniform at a concert in Berlin. Who does he think he is, royalty?