IT seems we have entered that long foretold era when machines will have replaced all meaningful human activity.

The inexorable advance of Artificial Intelligence is giving rise to fears once expressed in Hollywood blockbusters such as the Terminator franchise where curiously monosyllabic and muscly cyborg assassins are sent from a dystopian future to prevent churlish, present-day Samaritans from sticking a spanner in their works.

I feel though, that we need to calm down and consider some potential benefits offered by devices such as ChatGBT. When I interviewed the Scottish tech entrepreneur, Margaret Totten earlier this year, she told me: “These chat bots may regurgitate certain word patterns, but they don't replace the human spark of imagination.”

Indeed, following another week when the Scottish Government has come to resemble free-time at the nursery, the prospect of introducing some Artificial Intelligence into the chaos is a beguiling one.

Last week, Kirsty Blackman, the MP for Aberdeen North, said she wasn’t entirely sure of her chromosomes. A handy hint for the rest of us is that Ms Blackman is a mother of two. Ms Blackman is the SNP’s spokesperson for the Cabinet Office and has previously been the party’s deputy leader at Westminster, Spokesperson for the Treasury and Spokesperson for Work and Pensions.

Ms Blackman’s confusion over the Ys and wherefores of sex was swiftly followed by a bizarre intervention from her party colleague, James Dornan, the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart.

Occasionally, Mr Dornan is moved to remind us of his existence with occasional verbal eccentricities. One of these occurred last week when he suggested that the police search of Nicola Sturgeon’s home during their ongoing investigation into the SNP’s finances was “like it's Fred West's house, when they come to look for a paper trail”.

The laws of contempt forbid me from reproducing Mr Dornan’s other observations about the police.

Next, we had Lorna Slater mumbling her way through questions about her shambolic DRS scheme whose failure is expected to cost us hundreds of millions of pounds.


Lorna Slater

Lorna Slater


Meanwhile, a bouquet of flowers was on its way to Nicola Sturgeon from her former party colleagues in sympathy for her seven-hour meeting with Police Scotland. Her successor as party leader, Humza Yousaf, had described her as one of Europe’s finest politicians.

The recent appointment of Kevin Pringle as Mr Yousaf’s official spokesperson and strategic political adviser comes not a moment too soon for this shambolic and dysfunctional party.

He might do worse than ensuring all SNP politicians put their thoughts through the ChatGBT process before they open their mouths.

Missing Linklater

IT was typically civic and selfless of my old friend and former colleague Magnus Linklater to face down the threat of Artificial Intelligence in a recent Times column. Mr Linklater wielded his silver-topped cane at AI by having a column written by ChatGBT under his instruction. Happily, the effort came nowhere near the eloquence and wisdom of the admirable Mr Linklater.

Sadly, The Times and the Sunday Times has recently laid waste to almost its entire satellite operation in Scotland. Both titles are now reduced to a spectral presence in Scotland.

It’s my fervent hope that their editor doesn’t get any ideas arising from Mr Linklater’s jocund reflections on AI by appointing ChatGBT as The Times Scottish news editor.

Boycott in store?

A GOODLY dose of Artifical Intelligence might also have saved Fraser Longden, the Chief Executive of Wickes, from his Gerald Ratner moment last week. The boss of the kenspeckle Home Improvement retailer appeared to suggest that customers who held gender-critical views were bigots who weren’t welcome in his company’s stores.

Mr Longden also said that most of the population is in a “sort of slightly ignorant but mostly kind position” and that he wasn’t worried about any possible boycott of Wickes outlets in the wake of his outburst. “The other 10 per cent you know, they're just hot air,” he said, “and they will go and buy a tin of paint in the nearest place to them.”

I’m not sure why there has been such a backlash about Mr Longden’s sincerely-held views. Some of the most senior figures in the Scottish Government and Scottish public life, in their Incel obsession with enabling men to access women’s spaces, have similar views about the majority of their customers, aka the voters.

ET phone Rome

ARTIFICIAL intelligence will never replicate the Daily Star, this column’s favourite other paper. The irrepressible red-top splashed with a story last week about the Vatican and a UFO crash in Italy in the 1930s.

The Herald:

The Star carried an image of ET wearing a papal hat under the glorious heading “UFO CRASH HUSHED UP BY THE POPE”. The apercu “ET phone Rome” was used. The Herald on Sunday, I’m sure, would have gone with ‘THE TIM CAPSULE”, a heading of which I’m certain that the twinkly-eyed Mr Linklater would have approved.