Sean Thomas

Sean Thomas

Sean Thomas is a bestselling author. He tweets from @thomasknox.

Sam Altman is not evil

It’s a classic trajectory. You start as a likeable and geeky tech tyro, you morph into a squillionaire with disagreeable habits, and somewhere on the way you become loathed by large sections of the population.  It happened to Bill Gates – remember when he was an amiable nerd making glitchy but intriguing software? Now he

No tips please, we’re British

I hate tipping, not because I am intrinsically mean but because of the anxiety it induces. You pitch up at some glam hotel, after a gruelling flight, then the guy next to the concierge takes your bags to your room, and, as you go, you fumble in your pockets, searching for the mysterious notes and

AI is coming for artists

It’s a famous theme in science fiction: the idea that, one day, humanity and the thinking machines will somehow go to war. It’s the narrative spine of The Terminator films. It’s implied in 2001, A Space Odyssey. You can find it in Neuromancer, The Hyperian Cantos, Ex Machina, The Creator and I, Robot (the Asimov

Sean Thomas, Kara Kennedy, Philip Hensher, Damian Thompson and Toby Young

35 min listen

On this week’s Spectator Out Loud: Sean Thomas worries that Paris has lost some of its charm (1:21); Kara Kennedy reports on US-style opioids arriving in Britain (8:43); Philip Hensher describes how an affair which ruined one woman would be the making of another (15:32); Damian Thompson reflects on his sobriety and his battle with British

Paris, city of blight

You know that feeling when you haven’t seen someone for several years and when you do, you really notice the changes? Generally it is a melancholy moment: you spot the extra wrinkles, the added pounds. Occasionally it can be positive: gym-toned physique, amusing new green-and-orange hair. Lots of us had these moments as we emerged,

Why we love hideous food

I’m sitting on a stone terrace in the winsome south Breton port of Sainte Marine, which oversees France’s prettiest river (the Odet), and I’m excitedly tucking into a dozen gleaming Morbihan oysters. I am doing this partly because I am writing about travel in Brittany and oysters are very much part of the package here

Why is Latin America so violent?

As locations go, they don’t get more humdrum than the address ‘Carrera 79B, #45D/94’. It is so anonymous it sounds encrypted. Nor, in reality, does it look like anything special: a flat roof, next to a shuttered language school, above a wall of graffiti, in a lower middle-class suburb of another Spanish speaking city. But

The person who edited this will soon be redundant

Whenever I write about AI on The Spectator (which is a lot) I always get comments like ‘Yawn. Wake me up when AI actually does something’. And, to a point, these are fair comments. For all its remarkable feats, its photos of Shakespeare with weird fingers, its videos of dogs typing in spacesuits, the new

Is AI the biggest Brexit benefit?

It’s not easy being a Leaver, right now. For a start, the government that actually delivered Brexit – the present Tory government – is facing a one-sided electoral hammering which will make the Anglo-Zanzibar war of 1896 (duration: 38 minutes) look like a tense, nail-biting score draw. In the same vein, polls consistently show high

William Moore, Sean Thomas, Matt Ridley, Lionel Shriver and Kate Andrews

41 min listen

On this week’s Spectator Out Loud: William Moore questions if the Church of England is about the apologise for Christianity (1:19); Sean Thomas recounts his experience taking ayahuasca in Colombia (8:13); Matt Ridley argues that private landowners make better conservationists (16:40); Lionel Shriver warns against pathological niceness in the debate about immigration (28:37); and, Kate Andrews

Will the Red Wall revolt split the right?

48 min listen

On the podcast this week: is Rishi ready for a Red Wall rebellion?  Lee Anderson’s defection to Reform is an indication of the final collapse of the Tories’ 2019 electoral coalition and the new split in the right, writes Katy Balls in her cover story. For the first time in many years the Tories are

The secret to taking ayahuasca

Antioquia, Colombia If you’ve ever wondered what happened to drug lord Pablo Escobar’s enormous cocaine and occasional execution palace, as featured in the Netflix series Narcos, I can tell you. These days – following the violent death of Escobar in 1993 and the consequent escape of his pet hippos from his private zoo – the

Now AI is coming for musicians

Do you remember those far off misty days of yore, when shocking, startling, amazing, disquieting revelations from the world of Artificial Intelligence only arrived every year or two, or even longer? It was about, ooh, a fortnight ago: a wistful, innocent time of smiling boy scouts, and honey for tea, and vicars in bicycle clips,

Why Cambodia is the best country in the world

Yeah, I know, ridiculous. Cambodia? How can that be the best country in the entire world? For a start, most people can’t place it on a map. This includes close relatives of mine who are studying geography at A Level. They know all about the Marxist topography of urbanism, but Cambodia, err, um, is that

Are we ready for P(doom)?

It’s difficult to remember a time before climate change – a time when our daily discourse, our newspaper front pages, endless movies and TV documentaries, and Al Gore, Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough (Peace Be Upon Him), were not lecturing us, sternly and constantly, about the threat to our planet from the ‘climate emergency’,

AI just exploded. Again

When they come to write the history of the AI revolution, there’s a good chance that the writers will devote many chapters to the early 2020s. Indeed, such is the pace, scale and wildness of the development, it is possible entire books will be devoted to, say, what happened in the last week or so.

Think drug legalisation is a good idea? Visit Fentanyl Land

In 1988, I lived on the backpackery Khaosan Road, Bangkok, in a hotel which offered heroin on room service. It went like this: in the morning, you padded down the teakwood stairs to the little kitchen and you asked the pretty Thai girl for breakfast – scrambled eggs, bacon, ‘extras’. Ten minutes later the same

Is Nato ready for war with Russia?

38 min listen

Welcome to a slightly new format for the Edition podcast! Each week we will be talking about the magazine – as per usual – but trying to give a little more insight into the process behind putting The Spectator to bed each week. On the podcast: TheSpectator’s assistant foreign editor Max Jeffery writes our cover story this week, asking

How to check in to a haunted hotel

The haunted hotel. It’s a definite thing, isn’t it? From Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining to the slightly less classic I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, the hotel with an unwanted and probably long-dead guest is a leitmotif in scary cinema. It can also be found in poems, plays, novels; possibly the first

It’s official: modern music is bad

It’s one of the hoariest cliches in popular culture: that every fading generation must, in flailing anger at its own imminent irrelevance, turn on the next generation and say, ‘your music is dire’. From the crusty judge contemptuously asking ‘who are these Beatles’, to the middle-aged outrage surrounding the spitting and pogoing Sex Pistols, to