Is it the end for humanity?

Can I BEEP help you BEEP?

It had to happen. Somebody somewhere, soon, was going to realise that people -- the blood, the guts -- were a complete waste of time. Have you noticed how we're being phased out? First, the supermarket self-checkouts. Then the trains that don't need drivers. (This has always absolutely terrified me -- how can they possibly work?) Men are ancient history -- as if we need men any more to do anything!? (At this point I could link to about a hundred identikit features all saying something along the lines of: "Men. Pah! Who needs them? Now we can have babies on our own!" Although if said feature is in the Guardian it will be in a sort of "Yeah, rock on!" tone and if it's in the Mail it will be more "Oh, these ghastly modern women".)

Anyway, the point is that this has happened, brought to us by Xinhua in China. She's very lovely-looking, the robot saleswoman, but she doesn't have a soul. A tiny defect in an otherwise perfect answer to how to get round the need for actual human beings.

I'm going to start a campaign to Maintain the Relevance of the Human. Or Keep the People. Any tips gratefully received.

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

Photo: Getty
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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.