Wednesday, December 08, 2004

New Band Manifesto

I want to start a band, and I want them to win the Turner Prize next year. And the MTV music awards.

They will be very loud and very fast.

They will be angry and bitter and twisted. They want to kill everybody and their stupid iPods and their offensive lack of courtesy. Having won the MTV award for best new band they will then set fire to the podium with lighter fluid and the stubs of their hand-rolled crack-laced cigarettes.

They’ll be dangerous like James Brown was in the 60s, but white and middle class.

They will rock.

They will probably be called something like THE BLACK ANGLE.

Their first song will be called “I Like to Fuck (You in the Ear)”. It will sound like Death’s own freight train rolling out of your speakers.

Scream of feedback, tumultuous speed-metal drum roll, scream of feedback. Repeat to fade.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Cleaning Lobster

He pushed on down the street. Across the road a policeperson in uniform was talking to a hunched old woman, a careful hand hovering over her shoulder providing a private space for them to converse while not being threatening or over-familiar. A policeperson in uniform, now there’s a novelty. Sake thought that with the exception of traffic cops and security guards pretty much everyone was plain clothes these days, heard but not seen, or whatever the tag-line was.

Always with you.

The woman was pointing up the street, the policeperson’s head lifted, following her fingers.

Forever Close.

The policeperson began to move off in the direction indicated by the woman, she stood watching him.

Silent Securi... to your left

It was the machine’s frantic beeping that snapped him back into his more immediate surroundings. He rocked forward on his toes, almost tipping onto the smooth shape in front of him. Some kind of cleaner. Big, dark dull grey metal (well, metal-look, it was almost certainly plastic). Its two covered brushes becoming the claws of a lobster –like form, a one metre tall, one metre wide art-deco crustacean.

Please move to your left

The same voice he’d heard on train stations, road crossings, at airports.

Please move to your left

The convincingly human voice was comically incongruous with squat, functional looking machine in front of him.

Please move to your left

And its limited vocabulary an indication of its limited intelligence.

Sake stepped to his left. The machines brushes began to whir and with a lurch resumed its forward course.

There are some really intelligent engines about. HUB#01 (his main work-related port-of-call) and its various distributed systems was, in theory, several times more powerful than the human brain but, in real life, this wasn’t really a meaningful comparison. HUB#01 was all about correlation and pattern recognition, tracking car registrations, retina scans, cash-card transactions and then trying to convert this into meaningful data. But it couldn’t judge for itself how useful this output was, that needed another set of engines and several humans to pare it down, to distinguish the patterns from the coincidences.

Between HUB#01 and the curt cleaner there were a range of intelligences, each tailored to the task in hand. Impressions of consciousness were all around, but most didn’t take much stirring to reveal their transistor core.

(Not that engines used transistors anymore)

Across the street the woman stood watching him, from where he was stood he could see her muttering to herself.