A week in mild amusement


The North-East’s own Lee Ridley, AKA Lost Voice Guy, won Britain’s Got Talent. The comedian, whose cerebral palsy affects his ability to speak uses a voice synthesiser to tell his gags. This places him as just the latest on Simon Cowell’s list of acts with electronically aided voices. The comic from Consett will perform in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance. Something the Queen will no doubt be looking forward to. She has experience with electronically generated speech from her meetings with Theresa May every week. In truth, I only brought this up so I could brag about how I’ve done a couple of gigs with Lee and he’s a smashing bloke. So from us at b**p, congrats Lee it’s well deserved!

Giving the hard shoulder

Business as usual now and learner drivers will be allowed to drive on British motorways after a law change. This came about after someone realised the novel concept that motorway driving (something potentially dangerous but very commonplace) could be useful to know about. It’s at least as useful as knowing how to reverse into a parking bay, something I’ve literally never bothered with since. Before my test, I never drove at 70mph. Although that could just be because my battered fiesta simply isn’t capable of that. Despite Britain’s generally safe traffic, collisions remain the second biggest threat to young people. The first presumably being Ant McPartlin.

No patience, no patience, no patience

Television presenter Kirstie Allsop has defended her decision to sit in business class while her two children sit in economy class on flights. I don’t know who I feel more sorry for. The poor fellow-economy class passengers who have to babysit shrill whining children, or the fellow-business class passengers who have to endure shrill whining Kirstie Allsop. She says seating her children in business class would be a waste of money and ‘very spoiling’. Before continuing that the money saved from this endeavour allows her to take her kids on ‘shed loads of holidays’. Which, of course, is not spoiling at all. Last year, Gordon Ramsey revealed that he does the same thing with his kids. Although in that instance that’s a measure taken by his wife. In order to save their innocence, the kids should be kept as far away from their dad as possible at all times.

The butcher the baker, the closed fist shaker

The US supreme court has ruled in favour of baker Jack Phillips who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The conservative Christian cited his religious beliefs as the reason for refusal of service. Similarly, I now refuse to interact with albinos on the basis that I like Harry Potter. Phillips said that to provide a cake would endorse something that ‘directly goes against the bible’. As does, I might point out, trimming his beard- which he does. Owning land, which he does. And holding grudges against people, which he certainly appears to. That’s not very Christian now is it Jack?

AI see dead people

In my favourite story of the week, a team at MIT has created a psychopathic AI by raising it on images on Reddit. The algorithm is trained to interpret images but its source leads to some wonderfully pessimistic results. For instance, where a normal AI would interpret a particular inkblot as ‘a vase of flowers’, this one (nicknamed Norman) sees ‘a man shot dead’. Another inkblot, interpreted by other algorithms as ‘a small bird’, Norman sees as ‘a man pulled into a dough machine’. That one, in particular, made me wonder just which subreddits they had to visit to find that. Hopefully the baker from the previous story. A final inkblot, taken by normal AIs as ‘a person with an umbrella’, Norman sees as ‘a man shot dead in front of his screaming wife’.

If this is the result of raising a robot on Reddit, imagine what it would be like in more sinister corners of the internet. Star Wars fan groups or the Sun’s comments section under a story about Raheem Sterling, for instance.