methink1The British Health Secretary can’t even be bothered to change his mistakes. He needs a course in mental hygiene.

Bear with me for a short overture here…it should be instructive. Over several weeks now, Jim Rickard’s publicity agents have been asking for my address so I can review his new book, which strikes me as likely to be very interesting.

‘We don’t have your address!’ said the emailshot they sent. They do actually, but that’s not important right now. I sent them my address.

Back bounced my email, with a postmaster message saying their mailbox was full, so it couldn’t be delivered. I was busy, it was Christmas, I was preparing to leave for the UK, and about to greet my new granddaughter into the world. (She’s fine by the way and thanks for asking). I forgot all about the book.

Until yesterday, when another emailshot admonished me, by way of saying they’d had to ‘put shipment on hold’ because they still didn’t have my address. I was obviously the one being remiss here.

So I sent it again, and the back-bouncing thing recurred. When it comes to automation, you see, the past is always a guide to the future.

Under the circumstances, the reply I then sent to the managing editor of the website (having looked him up, and let me tell you this Rickard book just better to up to scratch) was incredibly restrained. I gave him my address and suggested he clip his marketing team round the lughole. This was the reply:


Now, my point is not that automation fucks up, because all automation fucks up sooner or later, it having been programmed in the first place by Homo sapiens, the premier upfucking species on the planet.

My observation is far more basic: if you think that genuine service and help for a customer, client or patient is going to benefit from automation – or as it now seems to dub itself ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) – then you are either cognitively challenged, or another occupant of the Bubble of the Bumptiously Braindead, and quite possibly both.

You seen what I did there, didn’t you? Yes you did. You saw me add the word ‘patient’. And that’s my segue into Jeremy Rhymeing-Slange, our Health Secretary. I can advise readers in advance to file this one under, “What on Earth could go wrong?”

By all means allow the tedious and tiresome tasks of life to be automated: the screwing of nuts onto cylinder-heads, the plonking of car roofs onto door supports, the shaping of the Cussons Imperial Leather soap bar into an aerodynamic form that ensures maximal propulsion out of your grip while under the shower – the cropping of corn with nasal scissors and so forth.

But here’s a tip: if you don’t want customers to wind up hating you, and anxious health patients to kill themselves in frustration, don’t automate – no matter how high its artificial IQ is – the process of providing added-value service to consumers, and diagnosis for sick persons.

The clue’s in the descriptor ‘artificial’. Demanding high net worth punters and ordinary citizens concerned about a propensity to keep falling over in the street are not in need of lifeless help. What they require is five active senses, experience and emotional human intelligence to discern their problem, and provide an answer as best they can – with the added miracle ingredient of Care.

You know – as in, healthcare and customer care, as opposed to couldn’t care less care.

In the Daily Telegraph – where there remain only Charles Moore and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard left of any use, now that Wing Commander Peter Oborne got past the goons to make good his escape last year – the following assertion appeared yesterday:

‘Last month, Jeremy Hunt announced that the NHS will work with three artificial intelligence (AI) companies to deliver health advice over the telephone in London, Yorkshire and the West Midlands. AI is improving to the level that it can understand complex areas such as medical diagnosis as well as humans can.’

Well lawks-a-mercy and put out more flags, we are saved. Complex medical diagnoses over the phone from robots who are improving, and how happy we all are for their steady progress. So much are they improving, they can understand stuff at the level of the patients these days. Whoodathunkit, eh? Medics as bright as patients….what will they come up with next – Meals on wheels from robots? Ah, sorry – I forgot: they already did that.

Here are some examples of many more things I wouldn’t allow AI anywhere near:

  • Nuclear response decisions
  • Middle East Arab-Jew negotiations
  • EU Rule of Law judgements
  • Soccer coaching skills
  • Police work
  • Surveillance cameras.

I suspect all but the AI trolls out there can see the irony of that list. But if you’re in any doubt, here’s a shortlist of things I wouldn’t allow Jeremy Hunt anywhere near:

  • Everything

Jeremy Hunt is abusing the limited supply of oxygen available on the planet. He is an onanist whose career has been based entirely on privilege, nepotism, unelected influence, dissembling, and sharp practice. He shows signs of suffering from frontal lobe cerebro-spinal fluid deprivation. He is an NGO abuser disguised as an entrepreneur. He enjoys a level of emotional intelligence that is, at best, homoaeopathic.

But above all, he is getting in the way of the definitive novel of the 21st Century. My novel. And yes, I’m 13,000 words in and it’s going well, thank you for asking.

John Ward aka The Slog lives in South West France and is battling a fifteen-year addiction to blogging. He is an unaligned commentator on the antics of the Miniscule Antisocial Damned (MAD) and thus dislikes fascists posing as liberals as much as he fears liberals calling Benthamite common sense fascist. He is open to opinions, cheques, adoring praise and offers of relatively normal sex at