Boris Johnson's Inaugural UN Speech Was a Doozy

'Terrifying limbless chickens,' 'pink-eyed Terminators' covered in dystopian address
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 25, 2019 7:17 AM CDT

If anyone was expecting Boris Johnson to speak substantially on Brexit on Tuesday night in his inaugural United Nations General Assembly speech as prime minister, they would've been disappointed. But Johnson delivered in other ways, just hours after the UK's highest court ruled his suspension of Parliament was unlawful—notably, with what the AP calls "a caffeinated screed about the damage that technology can do if misused, and the glories it can hand humanity if it is delivered properly." Here are some standouts, via the AP, the Independent, and Gizmodo, which called the speech "absolutely bonkers":

  • Johnson's speech was sprinkled with "jokes" on such things as "hangover cures" of the future and the threat of "terrifying limbless chickens."

  • He elaborated on this dystopian future he sees coming, noting, "You may keep secrets from your friends, from your parents, your children, your doctor—even your personal trainer—but it takes real effort to conceal your thoughts from Google. And if that is true today, in [the] future there may be nowhere to hide."
  • More on that: "Can these algorithms be trusted with our lives and hopes? Are we doomed to a cold and hard future where a computer says 'yes' or 'no'? How do you plead with an algorithm? How do you get it to see extenuating circumstances? We need to find the right balance between freedom and control."
  • He's apparently wary of artificial intelligence: "AI—what will it mean? Helpful robots washing and caring for an aging population? Or pink-eyed Terminators sent back from the future to cull the human race?"
  • Household devices also worry Johnson: "A future Alexa will pretend to take orders, but this Alexa will be watching you, clucking her tongue and stamping her foot. ... Your mattress will monitor your nightmares, your fridge will beep for more cheese, your front door will sweep wide the moment you approach, like some silent butler."
  • As for those quick thoughts on Brexit: "When Prometheus brought fire to mankind ... Zeus punished him by chaining him to a Tartarian crag while his liver was pecked out by an eagle. And this went on forever. A bit like the experience of Brexit in the UK, if some of our Parliamentarians had their way."
As Johnson headed to the airport to fly back to the UK after that address (you can watch it here, via the Sun), MPs across the pond prepared to reconvene Wednesday. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Johnson to apologize at the meeting to both the queen and the country in general after the Parliament suspension hubbub, per the Independent. (Read more Boris Johnson stories.)

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