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A design for the first robot health minister

Dear Sir in charge of healthcare,

Tis the season to be jolly! No it isn’t! Tis the season of open letters apparently.

I enjoy writing letters, but strangely enough this is the first letter I’ve been able to post. Each and every other time my wife has accidentally soaked them in petrol and torched them in the back-garden. The odds against this happening are huge but personally I blame her thyroid gland.

You’ve talked a lot in the past about how GPs can be easily replaced with computers. And I totally get you!

If a computer can be trusted with something as complex, as nuanced, as noble and as infinitely subtle as medicine, then why not with politics. Which is where I come in.

You’ve talked a lot in the past about how GPs can be easily replaced with computers. And I totally get you!

I’m not just come kind of crazy ’shed-based’ amateur.   Back in Moscow I studied neural networks and AI under the great Lobeshevsky; indeed I was his right hand man, well I was until the incident with the piano and the poison tipped umbrella.

But the culmination of years of research is the Jezza-2000. A fully automated health minister of the highest order.

Granted he’s had his teething problems. Last year, amidst great excitement, I invited the whole street to his grand unveiling. I rented a dry ice machine and a DJ to play the theme tune to a 2001 Space Odyssey. No expense was spared.

But unfortunately, as he was just about to emerge from his shed, he got stuck, his wheels span round, his optical circuits got all confused and to cut a very long and chaotic story short he went absolutely berserk. There was coronation chicken and trifle  everywhere and he even tried to strangle Mrs Gibson from number 34 with a string of bunting.

But lessons were learned. Important lessons. Since then I have nurtured him and furnished his little mechanical mind with the finer things in life. I have read poetry to him, taught him how to play a drum kit and how to assemble IKEA furniture (Mrs S does enjoy their range of attractive yet economical storage options).  

In fact he’s just like my own son. Except sadly he will never give me grandchildren. At least I hope not!

He now knows everything he needs to know about polite society, the political process, government legislature and the murky world of medical politics. He even knows how to use a spoon.

So finally, after all this time, after all of these setbacks and failures, after all of that time spent in the court-room explaining that I had not programmed and never would programme my robot to kill Mrs Gibson, he is finally in a position to replace you as health minister. He will be the first robot health minister in the world! I hope you’re as excited as I am. If you give me your address I can pack him off to you next Tuesday.  Oh I’ve also included a drawing of him because he’s a bit camera shy.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Strugatsky

PS I forgot to mention that every year he needs

1) A minimum of 3 months in the unadulterated sunshine of Barbados

2) An occasional trip on a luxury yacht paid for by a multi-millionaire media mogul

3) A family-sized suitcase stuffed with claim forms

4) A pipe

5) A peerage

Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Edinburgh