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  Opinion   Columnists  02 Jun 2023  Farrukh Dhondy | Threat horizon: Nuclear strikes, climate horrors & AI apocalypse

Farrukh Dhondy | Threat horizon: Nuclear strikes, climate horrors & AI apocalypse

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : Jun 3, 2023, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Jun 3, 2023, 12:00 am IST

Public opinion around the world, gentle reader, says that one can and should do something about climate change or the world is doomed

The terrifying comment comes from those who claim that Putin has terminal cancer and so won’t mind taking Russia and part of the world with him when he dies. (Photo: AP)
 The terrifying comment comes from those who claim that Putin has terminal cancer and so won’t mind taking Russia and part of the world with him when he dies. (Photo: AP)

“Her glances are arrows

Said the theatrical star

I am not their target

But they pierce me from afar

Her eyelashes flutter

The winds of love’s trap

Her neglect of my pleading

Is as tight as a slap…”

From Eh Don’t Be Silly Yaar and Other Verses, by Bachchoo

 

One keeps pace with the threats that confront the world. My London mobile phone screen flashes up news headlines, and today it said: “Kremlin threatens to nuke Uk….”

What?? I switched the phone to the whole article. Ah! The “Uk” in the headline was not UK, but the first two letters of Ukraine. A cause for relief? Over the last year Vladimir Putin has rattled his nuclear capability. Some commentators say that others in the Kremlin would stop him from pressing the button and would probably replace him. Others say that he dare not launch even very limited nuclear attacks as the West would retaliate by obliterating St. Petersburg and Moscow. Russia would cease to exist.

The terrifying comment comes from those who claim that Putin has terminal cancer and so won’t mind taking Russia and part of the world with him when he dies. Keeping pace with this threat is not reassuring as one can do nothing about it.

Public opinion around the world, gentle reader, says that one can and should do something about climate change or the world is doomed. Scientists confirm this as a distinct possibility, even though the doom may take a century or so to finally sweep away the world as we know it. One cares for one’s descendants and so one acts, say the protesters who are active in the Stop Oil brigade of Britain.

I have in my time, gentle reader, been an agitator in what I thought of as good causes. Yes, there’s many a sit-in and street-blocking demonstration in which I have participated and have been arrested by the police as a consequence. I must shamefacedly confess that I have not yet joined a Stop Oil protest. They are very vigorous and bold in their tactics. They intrude on national games and spread orange powder on snooker tables and on the football fields. They glue themselves to posts and the road to stop the traffic.

Now, I must admit, I have contemplated gluing myself to something or other to cause a nuisance, but can’t quite figure out how it’s done. I occasionally buy tubes of superglue to stick back broken crockery or my garden’s clay statue of Lord Ganesh which the strong breeze toppled and shattered.

My experience with superglue is that once you squeeze the tube and do what’s to be done and screw the top of it back, that’s the end. The next time you try and use the tube, the glue has hardened within and I can’t even get the cap off. So, the prospect of using a hundred of these tubes to glue myself to a lamppost or a police van is really forbidding. Even the effort of squeezing a hundred tubes onto my skin is daunting. Perhaps I won’t. Spreading orange powder on the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Company, when a white actor blacks up and plays Othello, and consequently being arrested, is more my thing. Of course, the days when

white actors black up and play Othello are done. Still, watch this space!

And the third worrying threat to all employment and existence, which commentators have recently started to panic about, is Artificial Intelligence. I was persuaded by a good friend to try it out before I read the apocalyptic predictions of it wiping out all need for the activities of consciousness. We can read about the disastrous consequences of its spread, probably composed by AI itself.

The friend who persuaded me to download the app and pay the monthly fee said that it could write my columns for me, so we asked it to write a Cabbages and Kings column in the style of myself and specified a current topic… (Hah! You’ve unwittingly confessed? So, you’ve been getting AI to write these wretched columns? --Ed! No Saar, please bear with me and

read the next few sentences. I am humble current affairs-walla! –fd) … In a few seconds it churned out some generalised rubbish with no insight into the current state of UK politics which we had demanded. It still believed that Boris Johnson was the PM. Then my friend discovered that AI can’t access developments of the last two years. So, no possibility of cheating on this column.

But then I was inspired to fool around with the Chatbot, or whatever it’s called, and asked it to write a poem by Bachchoo to a lady love. Here’s what it produced:

“In every note of Bachchoo’s rhyme

I find the words to express my love divine

For thou art the moon to my tide

A constant presence, by my side

No matter the challenge we face,

Our love will withstand any race,

For it is the melody of our hearts,

That shall never be played apart

So, let us dance to the rhythm of our love

With Bachchoo’s words as our guide above….”

Would Bachchoo ever rhyme “rhyme” with “divine”? Or resort to cliches like moons and tides?

I think we are, at present, on the evidence, safe from death by AI.

Tags: london, vladimir putin, ukraine, kremlin, st. petersburg