General Incompetence: Series 2

General Incompetence: Series 2

‘Modelling’, now there’s a word to conjure with. Call me old-fashioned, but didn’t it used to mean beautiful people sashaying up and down a catwalk, or small toddlers mashing plasticine into what is supposed to be a cat or a frog? But those days are long gone. ‘Modelling’ now means basically spending a lot of time and money and Big Brains predicting the bleedin’ obvious. (Pace, scientists everywhere.)

A huge problem

For instance, I should have thought even a primary school child, given the right information, could conclude that Virus + people = problem… Or bigger problem, or absolutely huge problem. Those incomprehensible graphs that we saw on the BBC on Saturday – that were cut off at the margins, so they could have been depicting Marcus Rashford’s goal-scoring average last season for all I know – compared a variety of different models (not of the Gigi Hadid variety obviously) and all… Pay attention, because this is most uncommon… came to THE SAME CONCLUSION. Which, at the risk of being boring, amounts to: Virus + people = Huge problem. The aforementioned bleedin’ obvious.

 Covid Modelling


Ed Ball’s salsa

I’m not a Luddite. I love my computer and my phone – mostly. My life as a writer has been greatly enhanced by whatever algorithm it is that facilitates how I write/edit/rewrite my books – not being a pen and ink or carbon paper/typewriter-ribbon sort of girl. And my phone has gone from being sneered at to an annoyingly essential in my life. But algorithms are not people – thank goodness. So, how much scientists can mimic human behaviour with an algorithm obviously hangs on a good few variables: the quality of the data, the interpretation, the design of the model, the size of the Big Brain etc. One false move and the result is as scary as Ed Balls’s salsa. ‘We’re all going to die,’ Or, conversely, ‘Calm down, dear, it’s only a commercial.’

Ed Balls

Endangered species

On Saturday, the model scientists came down definitively on the side of the ‘We’re all going to die’ scenario. But I, for one, will do everything in my power to resist this conclusion. I hope you will too. It would be so sad to see a world reduced to algorithms and models (not Gigi, as previously stated), the human race relegated to a graph on a dodgy government slide show. So, cheers to the human race, virus-ridden but preferably not extinct.

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