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18-19 March

Tomorrow’s world

The tech wizards courting disaster

In 2022, says Ezra Klein in The New York Times, AI experts were asked how likely it was that people would lose control of future advanced AI systems, causing “human extinction or similarly permanent and severe disempowerment of the human species”. The median reply was 10%. It may be “hard to fathom” why so many bright sparks are slogging away to create something they think has a 10% chance of wiping out humanity. But I regularly spend time with these geeks, and “I don’t know that I can convey just how weird that culture is”. It is a community living with an “altered sense of time and consequence”. They are “creating a power they do not understand at a pace they often cannot believe”.

Love etc

When Peter O’Toole and co were in the desert filming the 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia, says Stephanie Bridger-Linning in Tatler, the young King of Jordan – only in his twenties – used to pop by occasionally to visit the set. Kitted out as a pirate at a fancy dress party, King Hussein met Toni Gardiner, the 19-year-old daughter of a British army officer from Suffolk, who was working as a secretarial assistant on the film. The costume, she said, “makes you look rather scruffy, Your Majesty”. “For the first time in my life,” he wrote later, “here was a girl who took an interest in me as a human being.” They married the next year and their son, Abdullah, is now king.


Quoted Chuck 18.3.23

“When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?”

American novelist Chuck Palahniuk


The attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981 was made all the more dramatic by the characters and dialogue involved, say Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland on The Rest Is History. The two doctors apparently looked as if someone had “called Central Casting and said, ‘Send me two guys who are really nice blokes and look like they may be surgeons’”. When Reagan quipped to one “I hope you’re a Republican”, the doctor replied: “Today, sir, we are all Republicans.” Democrat House Speaker Tip O’Neill lay prostrate next to the president’s bed reciting Psalm 23. One nurse, however, was a little more light-hearted, telling the notoriously chatty Reagan: “Mr President, in the most polite way I can tell you, when I put this face cloth over your eyes it means I want you to shut up.”

Staying young

A morning coffee might be irresistible after a bad night’s sleep, says Inside Hook, but it’s actually better to wait a few hours before getting your caffeine fix. It’s because the stress hormone cortisol peaks in the early morning, promoting “wakefulness” and helping you get out of bed, before decreasing steadily throughout the day. The key for optimum energy levels is to “ride out your natural boost” as long as you can, then have a coffee just before midday when the cortisol has more or less worn off. Time it right, and you should avoid the dreaded mid-afternoon crash.


The castle

Stowe Castle is a Grade II listed property dating back to 1741, located around three miles north of Buckingham. The 4,000 sq ft living space includes five bedrooms and bathrooms, a spacious kitchen with a central island, and a wealth of period features, including solid oak doors, an ornate marble fireplace and flagstone flooring. The home is set within 1.8 acres of landscaped grounds, complete with a colonnade pergola, courtyard and helipad. Milton Keynes station, around 20 minutes away, has trains to London Euston in 32 minutes. £4.5m.

The apartment

This light-filled, two-bedroom flat overlooks Pearson’s Park in Rotherhithe, southeast London. It has an open-plan living space, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a private balcony set off the master bedroom. The Thames Clipper is less than five minutes away, and Rotherhithe Overground station is a 20-minute walk. £795,000.



Quoted Hubbard 18.3.23

“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.”

American cartoonist Kin Hubbard