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Volume 467

Of the robots, by the robots, for the robots. This week’s coolsh*t is establishing our inalienable non-human rights. We’re also bringing you a meaty maelstrom down under, Ai vs. AI, and the opportunity to stack P’s while catching Z’s.

We the Robots.

The SCOTUS is currently gearing up to adjudicate on whether the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution precludes Donald Trump from running for office due to those charming neurodivergent gentlemen in horned helmets storming the capitol a few years back, and clearly constitution fever has caught on as a result. We’ve got some snake oil for that.

Google Deepmind have been busy publishing a constitution of their own this week, but this one isn’t to enshrine your legal right to shoot your neighbour in the face with an AR-15 if they pinch your morning paper, it’s to lay down the law for humanoid robots.

‘The Robot Constitution’ offers a set of detailed guidelines that instructs intelligent machinery on what they should and shouldn’t do. The rules are based on Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics and are divided into three categories: foundational, safety, and embodiment. For instance, lugging boxes around a warehouse is fine, decapitating your line manager is frowned upon. That one probably applies for humans too, to be fair. That’s actually how I lost my last job. But at least this constitution already has an advantage over the original one in the sense that none of its authors have a mouthful of teeth snatched from other people’s mouths – as far as we’re aware.

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2023 was a big year for fashion trends. We had gorp-core, bloke-core, business-core and even dad-core, to name a mere few. Now, it looks like 2024 could be shaping up to be the year that brings us painter and decorator-core.

Thanks to Samuel Ross’ A-COLD-WALL* x Nike collaboration, there’s a good chance we’re going to see a load of middle-class, streetwear-obsessed Gen Zers cosplaying as plasterers. Absolutely spackletacular news. Do we get to call that cultural appropriation? We probably could do if we were extremely annoying and boring. Stolen valour at least, perhaps. I’m sure the wronged party would agree if they knew what that meant.

At least Big Terry can feel like a trendsetting luminary as he enjoys a thoroughly-earned pint of John Smith’s at the Swan & Ferret on a Friday afternoon while opining on precisely why Meghan Markle is absolutely horrid.

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Meat the Family.

I love Christmas. It presents such a lovely opportunity to argue with family members you haven’t seen for a while. It can also offer a microcosmic representation of just how chasmic the generational gap has become in recent years. Seeing your blue-haired cousin trying to communicate with your Brexiteer uncle without having an aneurism when someone brings up the environment really does remind you how different we are.

A new ad out of Australia has decided to play on some of those intergenerational tropes, but with the positive pay-off that no matter how divided we may feel, we can always be united by… barbecued lamb. Yeah, right – try telling that to my cousin while she tucks into her festive nut roast. Because of course she’s also a vegan.

But maybe these lazy generational generalisations aren’t terribly helpful. Maybe, in an era of rampant cross-gen interconnectivity, human beings can’t be boiled down into clearly-delineated, age-defined boxes. Maybe someone should write a report about it called ‘The Next Agenda: Learn to Time Travel’ and host a breakfast event to reveal their findings on January 23rd. Hang on, that’s what we’re doing. What are the chances? (Email to reserve your place).

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Dream Job.

It’s a fairly pathetic indictment of our societal decadence that one of our most common wishes is to spend more time in bed. Shame on you. Yeah, you. There’s a whole world of opportunities out there. People would kill to be able to ride the Victoria line at stupid o’clock in the morning to go to work, yet you would rather literally be unconscious. People would kill for a cheese sandwich. People have. However, tolerating our differences is de rigueur at the moment, so we’ll play along.

When a recent sleep survey revealed that 30% of participants claimed they’d happily stay in bed all day as a full-time job, Bensons for Beds decided to make that dream a reality by creating the role of ‘Chief Sleep Officer’ for one lucky individual who presumably isn’t held hostage by the little voice in their head wailing into the existential abyss and nagging them into action. Basically you test a couple mattresses and Mr. Benson gives you 10,000 quid. Solid. Earning while you’re sleeping: that’s passive income. And you didn’t even need to attend The Hustler’s University. Proper Top G behaviour.

But for the rest of you, my professional advice is that you get out of bed, drink a stiff glass of Himalayan pink salt water, read some T.S. Eliot, go for a backwards run, down a pot of espresso, mainline an upper decky to the gums, then pop yourself in a cold bath. You’re alive – so live, godmanit, live.

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AI Wars.

We love a pun. And we have a great deal of respect for anyone willing to go to extreme lengths for the sake of making one. AI vs Ai. This idea really wrote itself.

From January 11th to March 31st – a period of 81 days, the same time he spent in a Chinese prison – Ai Weiwei will appear on public screens in London, Seoul, Milan, Lagos, Accra, Nairobi, Abidjan, and Berlin at 8.24pm local time each day to ask a different question addressed to artificial intelligence. Questions include ‘Who owns whom in democratic societies?’, ‘Do human beings long for death?’, and ‘Which people would benefit the most from you in warfare?’. Heavy. It’s like a magic 8-ball but much less fun and probably slightly more important. I’d also quite like to know why my algorithm won’t stop relentlessly serving me ads for bone broth.

‘This is not about freedom of speech,’ Ai said in a statement. ‘This is about freedom of questions. Everybody has the right to ask questions.’ Only a true artist could make such a banal statement sound quite so profound.

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Council-Housed and Vibrant.

It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of cynicism, using coolsh*t to poke fun at societal insanity and consequently passing over genuinely excellent work. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that things done well simply don’t tend to be as amusing, which is a slightly butchered inverse of Sir Norton Knatchbull’s family motto (‘benefactorum recardatio jucudissima est’). But no more. We’re starting the new year with an open heart and an open mind, seeking to see the best in the world rather than the worst. Because does it even count as a new year’s resolution unless there’s absolutely fuck all chance of you sticking to it?

Burberry have been on quite the journey since Daniella Westbrook was labelled ‘chavtastic’ for wearing full head-to-toe Burbs 20 years ago. In the early 2000s the brand experienced a bit of a Nova Check poisoning as public perceptions took a nose-dive, largely due to the proliferation of some ‘unofficial brand ambassadors’ who were deemed undesirable (we’re not going to use the ‘C-word’, but you know what we mean. Oh shit, not that C-word. The other one. Chav. The word’s chav. We’ve said it now. Chav, chav, chav with a juicy couture tracksuit on top. Shame on you for making us do that).

But lately, Burberry have been killing it. And their Lunar New Year campaign touring the city of Chengdu to celebrate the Year of the Dragon is some of the brand’s most striking work to date. We would say more about it, but we used up our word count with all that C-word stuff.

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