This line from The Life of Brian by Monty Python sums up the need at the time for people to defer to machines, even when they did not understand what the machine was doing.
There is a lot of hype around AI right now. People have a sudden and strong conviction that on the immediate horizon computers will be able to do anything people can do.
This was summed up for me by a sign outside SpecSavers advertising their “styling technology”. It is not possible for a computer to tell you what glasses suit you, better than a person with a good eye for design.
Why do people want a recommendation from a machine? I think the answer lies in our need for cetainty. A person with a good eye will give you a better result than a machine but they won’t give you the same result as another person with a good eye.
Certainty over rightness is what the “machine that goes ping” sketch was all about.
My friend Dom shared a fun game on Facebook today. A gif flashes through various affirmations that could apply to you. When you take a screenshot it resolves into a single image. It's a really simple way of making a modern fortune teller-type game.
I couldn't remember how to take a screenshot, so I used the snip tool. I decided half-way through that I didn't like the affirmation that had been chosen for me and I stopped snipping immediately in order to try again - half way through selection, as it turned out.
This was the result! How I laughed when I saw it. I'll expect my Shakespeare role in my email inbox soon.
Books such as "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron (the book that got me into acting) talk a lot about synchronicity, which basically means things appearing to go magically right.
Every so often I experience such amazing synchronicity.
Today I went to The Crystal in Docklands. The quickest route was to change at Canning Town onto the DLR to go one stop to Royal Victoria. Imagine my chagrin when I found that my Jubilee Line train stopped one stop prior to Canning Town, at North Greenwich. Grrrr.
Then I looked at the tube map. There is a new line on the tube map connecting... North Greenwich and Royal Victoria. Huh? I looked more closely - it's the new cable car connection. So I hopped off and went on the cable car to work! And once I'd discovered it, I did it on the way back too.
How fantastic! If my train hadn't stopped "too early" I would never have found this out.
I’ve always liked doors. On holiday in Tunisia my holiday snaps were mostly of doors. I did an art project of nine door photos in a square.
When we moved into our current flat, it got personal. Although we are in a one-bed flat, we have a fantastic front door, all of our own, because of the way that the terraced houses were converted.
Every so often I see a better door. Look at this beauty!
Women in “rational dress”
After seeing a reference on Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to the contraceptive diaphragm as designed by Marie Stopes, I realised that I didn’t know much about her and headed off to Wikipedia.
Marie Stopes was rather controversial - she was in favour of birth control as a feminist, but also as a eugenicist. She most believed in birth control to prevent to decline of humanity from over-breeding of the poor.
Even more interesting than Marie is her mother Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, an early feminist. Charlotte campaigned for, among other things, rational dress. Rational dress meant clothes for women that allowed freedom of movement and no medical repercussions - outfits of the time included restrictive corsets that damaged internal organs and heavy skirts that rendered women pretty useless.
Rational dress was resisted by society for tens of years. It only finally took off after women got the vote, in the roaring twenties. A woman wearing bloomers in 1890 might well have despaired that she would ever be accepted as normal. And yet today women take the wearing of jeans and other comfortable clothes for granted.
Counting up the other victories that previously seemed impossible - gay marriage, abortion and a black American president to name a few - perhaps we can take hope when times don’t seem progressive enough. The future is much more likely to resemble an Ursula Le Guin novel, rather than The Handmaid’s Tale.