CONCERN is being expressed by some in the scientific community about the speed of growth of Artificial Intelligence.

This may possibly be based on the over-reliance of decisions based largely on cost-effectiveness, with little regard to other factors which illustrate the important distinction between humankind and machines.

The current Cabinet ministers in Westminster are attempting to deal with the increase in numbers of illegal immigrants and the costs associated with their accommodation. It is possible to visualise a situation of delegating decisions founded on an algorithm and produced by Artificial Intelligence based on cost-effectiveness. The end result could be a solution (or Solution), recognised by those who have lived through recent history. They will recognise the chilling results of decisions founded on such considerations where the human elements of ethics, compassion and morals are not included in the equation.

It is time for politicians to listen to scientists and to others who value humanity, before we open doors more widely to a society as envisaged by George Orwell.

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.

Why DRS is necessary

JOHN F Crawford (Letters, April 1) says the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is a waste of money; that it wouldn’t be popular and that it would jeopardise existing kerbside collections. He asks why this scheme is necessary.

One of the most obvious, and pressing, reasons is the fact that too many cans and bottles are not being recycled at all, mainly because they are discarded by the roadside. Right now, there are stretches of the M74, as well as most other roads in Scotland, that are covered with debris that has been thrown out of vehicle windows.

Motorway signs shout out the message "litter picking costs lives". Gantry signs ask people nicely to take their litter home. Thousands of volunteers in communities up and down the country take time out to pick the tons of litter that thoughtless people have simply thrown away regardless of the ramifications of their actions. Councils spend a fortune on litter picking. The legal threat of large fines has had no effect because there is no effective way of catching the culprits.

The DRS provides a realistic solution – the motivation of money. By paying 20p more for drinks, a large proportion of people will want that back and the only way of getting it is via DRS.

Kerbside collections will still be busy with paper, cardboard and anything else that can’t be recycled via the DRS.

Dennis White, Blackwood.

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Another tax by stealth

THE DRS, which might not increase the number of bottles and containers being returned for recycling, is in fact a stealth tax.

The 20p added to the price of the container is subject to VAT. So 24p is actually being added and only 20p returned. The Scottish Government will thus gain this money plus the amount taken on unreturned containers.

W Thompson, Lenzie.

Read more: It is high time we did away with national exams

Committed to Scots research

IN response to P Davidson (Letters, April 1), I can assure your correspondent that Cancer Research UK has definitely not withdrawn all funding for cancer research in Scotland and Wales. Thanks to the dedication and generosity of our supporters, £24 million was raised for Cancer Research UK in Scotland last year and in that same period, we invested £33m in the high-quality and lifesaving research which is taking place in Scotland.

As well as funding the CRUK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, Cancer Research UK also funds research at universities across Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. This also includes increased funding of £4m to Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh, jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the Little Princess Trust, which deliver clinical trials of new treatments to adults and children in Scotland.

We remain committed to funding the highest-quality research to improve prevention, detection and treatment of cancer across the UK to meet our ambition that everyone can live their lives free from the fear of cancer.

Dr Catherine Elliott, Cancer Research UK, Director of Research, London.

Hail return of classical ballet

THE short run of Swan Lake at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh last week was a long-awaited and welcome return of classical ballet to a Scottish stage. In spite of funding restrictions dance flourishes at grassroots levels in Scotland. In theatres we are seeing interesting modern and contemporary dance. What has been lacking for some years is full-scale classical ballet.

Such work is as important to dance as full live orchestral works are to music. As the recently-appointed director of English National Ballet, Aron Watkin, says: “Classical ballet is the fundamental base of organised dance”.

The ballet staged last week by Birmingham Royal Ballet was co-produced by a former artistic director of Scottish Ballet, Galena Samsova. It is to be hoped that at some time in the future the means and the vision will exist to enable such work to originate within Scotland again.

Dr Brian Mucci, Glasgow.

Ugly sights in A9 lay-bys

WE had the misfortune of having to drive down the A9 from Perth to Stirling late on Sunday afternoon (April 2). Misfortune I say because in three consecutive lay-bys there were groups of men probably, but not certainly, football supporters overtly urinating.

It is appalling that A) they feel the need to do it and B) there are no roadside facilities. The litter by the side of the road is another matter, but don’t get me started.

Steve Barnet, Gargunnock.

Would you talk to the grass?

IT is always a pleasure to share Thelma Edwards’s affinity with nature (Letters, April 1), and I’m sorry that her forest sorties have been curtailed recently.

My own relationship with flora and fauna has also been enjoyable but less intimate, perhaps after seeing the gritty Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon (1969), singing “I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me”. If they won’t listen to tough guy Clint then they sure ain’t going to listen to me.

On the other hand, I’m drawn to Whispering Grass (The Ink Spots, 1940): "Why tell them all your secrets? Who kissed there long ago, Whispering Grass, the trees don’t need to know”.

R Russell Smith, Largs.