Terry Kirton

Oliver Burkeman’s interview with a computer named George made a fascinating read on The Guardian’s front page last Wednesday.

He tried to congratulate George upon winning the annual prize for holding a convincingly human conversation with a real person.

The result was hilarious. “Are you pleased?” George was asked.

“How EVER did you guess,” replied the supercilious little silicon chip.

O:
“Do you feel sad that Cliff Richard may never going record another
song?” (sic – typical Grauniad)n G: “Ahem… depressing at times. Of
course I feel sad about it. Dingbat.”

O: “There’s no need to be rude.”

I
took an instant liking to a computer that can get tetchy! But what also
struck me was how George set his own agenda by answering questions that
had never been asked.

“I am also secretly Dan Brown.

I wrote the Da Vinci Code,” was his response to a question about who might win the German general election.

So I had to join in the fun on jabberwacky.com [the internet home of George].

“Do you find politicians amusing?”

I asked.

G: “Do you find politics boring?”

Me: “Like you, politicians never answer the question, right?”

G: “Could you be a politician?”

I
gave up, convinced George was a junior minister in disguise. By
Saturday I had almost forgotten about my encounter, when I chanced upon
Craig Brown’s Way of the World column in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph.

His spoof “first draft of the LibDem leader’s closing speech at the party conference” repeatedly drifted into surreal rhetoric.

“I
want a Britain which provides our pensioners with youth, and our
youngsters with experience. I want a Britain where old people feel safe
to answer their doors – without the doors answering back.”

So who are funnier, politicians, computers or journalists?

Terry Kirton is a freelance journalist and a lecturer at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts

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