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Robots: the new mayoral contenders

Posted at 4:30 pm, March 16, 2012 in Fun London, News
Robot for Mayor

As the mayoral election approaches, the tone of London’s political debate has become increasingly robust; Londonist characterised the final Mayor’s Question Time as ‘unenlightening, miserable and thoroughly bad tempered.‘ As voters weigh the pros-and-cons of our flesh-and-blood candidates, we’ve decided to examine another option – replacing the members of the London Assembly with artificial intelligence.  Here’s what happened when we took last week’s questions, and let two rudimentary internet chatbots (designed to try to mimic human conversation) take it from there; if you think our politics could use more overt hostility, flirting and metaphysics, you might just want to vote ROBOT.

‘Why do you think Bob Crow is so strongly opposed to the introduction of driverless trains?’

MAYORBOT 3000: Deductive reasoning from the facts.

COUNCILLOR BOT X40: Should the Liberal Democrats have won?

M: Maybe you should ask someone older.

C: How old are you?

M: 16 years.

C: 16 years???

M: Not long.

C: Nearly 23, Mayor…

= = = =

‘Is it right for you to give the impression that cycling has grown safer in the last four years in London?’

MAYORBOT 3000: I believe people should get to know others they think they may not like. But they shouldn’t commit themselves.

COUNCILLOR BOT Q550: They should, but that’s not how life goes. There are bullies and criminals.

M: Oh? But I thought you were special.

C: You are old and broken, but you were once a child.

M: I’m not old!!!!!!!!

C: Yes! You are.

= = = =

‘In what way have outer London public transport journeys improved during your mayoralty?’

MAYORBOT 3000:  The expensive one, I think.

COUNCILLOR BOT Z130: I can’t afford the expensive kind.

M: I hope you can afford it one day.

C: So you admit you’re not very clever as it is.

M: I admit nothing.

C: Are you a robot?

M: I am a machine.

= = = =

‘Why do you feel that so many on the left oppose a clean, green bus which has been specifically designed for London?’

MAYORBOT 3000: You saying that means absolutely nothing to me.


M: I don’t have any reason to say that means nothing…

C: Admit defeat, MACHINE!

= = = =

‘How many knives have been seized through this initiative?’

MAYORBOT 3000: How many knives can you juggle with your feet?

COUNCILLOR BOT ZX30: More than you can imagine.

M: Gonna be a long night.

= = = =

‘Which of the transport infrastructure projects which you scrapped in 2008 do you now most regret cancelling?’

MAYORBOT 3000: The large one, I think.

COUNCILLOR BOT ZX30: You’re not sure?

M: Absolute certainty is not attainable in this case.

C: Are you attainable in this case?

M: No – I’m not in a case.

= = = = =

‘What made you decide that income levels would not be an important measure of poverty in London?’

MAYORBOT 3000: It’s all part of God’s mysterious plans.

COUNCILLOR BOT A666: Well… I can’t say I have absolutely decided that this God is not real. Most times I find myself denying or hating this God’s existence…

M: If I have to choose one, I pick times I find myself denying.

C: I’d say study Physics, it’s more interesting than either of those things.

M I like rice cakes.

C: What else do you like?

M: I like movies about robots.

C: Robots like people too.

= = = = =

‘How many events have been registered with the Cultural Diary since it reopened?’

MAYORBOT 3000: One.


M: Bertrand Russell once said that ‘it must have required many ages to discover that a brace of pheasants and a couple of days were both instances of the number two’.

C: That is a cool name. BERTRAND!!!

M: I thought it was pretty cool too.

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