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James Forsyth

Boris is gone: the leadership contest now begins

In the end, the Prime Minister was damaged irreparably before he resigned on Thursday. The confidence vote wounded him. Then two by-election defeats revealed that people were voting tactically against the Tories. A party that tolerated Boris Johnson because he was a vote-winner now concluded he was an electoral liability: rebellions followed and then (finally)

Why Rishi Sunak quit

On Tuesday, the last cabinet meeting with Sajid Javid as health secretary and Rishi Sunak as chancellor passed without any hint that either was about to resign. The ministers did not co-ordinate their resignations, but they had both been tipped over the edge by growing evidence that No. 10 had misled MPs by declaring Boris

Nick Bostrom: How can we be certain a machine isn’t conscious?

A couple of weeks ago, there was a small sensation in the news pages when a Google AI engineer, Blake Lemoine, released transcripts of a conversation he’d had with one of the company’s AI chatbots called LaMDA. In these conversations, LaMDA claimed to be a conscious being, asked that its rights of personhood be respected

The pernicious creep of the 20mph zone

‘Twenty is plenty’ say the passive-aggressive road signs as you drive very slowly through 20mph zones all over Britain. The slogan is accompanied by a cartoon drawing of a snail. Then you get a frowny-frowny-frowny electronic sign and you slow from 25 to 20 to make it turn into a smiley face. That’s how we’ve

Why aren’t mistresses a secret any more?

I was shocked at a party recently when a woman I hardly know announced to me and another guest that she was the ‘mistress’ of a certain man in the room. I discussed it with my American friend in a local Italian afterwards. Holly took a robust view. ‘Since when does a mistress reveal herself

Notes on...

The twists and turns of ‘desire paths’

Pause in a park or field in summer and look out across the grass and you’ll see a multitude of thin, earthy tracks breaking up the swaths of green like shatters in a pane of glass. These are most commonly known as desire paths – although other names include cow paths, desire lines, pirate paths