The Prime Minister was however unable to scramble back to Westminster immediately, for he was about to deliver his inaugural address to the United Nations General Assembly – the subject, Artificial Intelligence.
Speaking in a not overly densely populated chamber, Johnson discussed the potential risks of technological advances, while simultaneously hailing London as having "the biggest tech [industry] anywhere in Europe". He stated ominously that while it’s possible to keep secrets from one’s "parents, your children, your doctor, even your personal trainer", it takes “real effort” to conceal one’s thoughts from Google – and said it was uncertain whether AI will create “helpful robots washing and caring for an ageing population” or “pink-eyed terminators sent back from the future to cull the human race”.
Some of the many and varied reactions to Boris Johnson's UN speech pic.twitter.com/3AOc9RUizo— Tara Mulholland (@tara_mulholland) September 25, 2019
"Digital authoritarianism is not, alas, the stuff of dystopian fantasy but of an emerging reality. In the future, voice connectivity will be in every room and almost every object. Your mattress will monitor your nightmares, your fridge will beep for more cheese, your front door will sweep wide the moment you approach, like some silent butler. Your smart meter will go hustling for the cheapest electricity…Every one of them minutely transcribing your every habit in tiny electronic shorthand, stored not in their chips or their innards but a great cloud of data that lours ever-more oppressively over the human race, a giant dark thundercloud waiting to burst. And we have no control over how or when the precipitation will take place,” he warned.
Johnson went on to express concern that “some people today…are actually still anti-science”, citing the widespread anti-vaccination movement as an example – he said they “by their prejudices” were actually endangering the very children they want to protect”, and he totally rejected such “anti-scientific pessimism”.
References to Brexit were virtually non-existent, but Johnson managed to crowbar a reference to both his political struggle at home and personal preoccupation with antiquity when he likened the process of quitting the EU to Greek mythology.
Boris Johnson, in his speech to the UN yesterday.— Andrew Steele (@statto) September 25, 2019
Does he even know what science is? pic.twitter.com/fPWR3QqTH8
"When Prometheus brought fire to mankind...Zeus punished him by chaining him to a Tartarean crag while his liver was pecked out by an eagle, and every time his liver regrew the eagle came back and pecked it again. This went on forever — a bit like the experience of Brexit in the UK, if some of our parliamentarians had their way,” he lamented.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Premier's decision to suspend parliament was unequivocal - the move was “unlawful, void and of no effect", and "had the effect of frustrating or preventing" the UK legislature from carrying out its functions. By voiding the decision, the Court has effectively ruled the suspension of parliament never happened, meaning the Commons remain in session, as if the whole thing had never happened - nonetheless, Johnson maintains he’ll take the UK out of the EU on 31st October, stating he “strongly disagrees” with the ruling.
At the conclusion of his UN speech, Johnson invited attendees to a summit in London in 2020, although it’s unclear which conference the premier was referring to – he may have meant London Tech Week, which launched in 2014 and takes place each June. Neither Downing Street nor the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have been able to provide clarification since.