customers struggled to answer its questions

customers struggled to answer its questions

There was excitement at a Haslemere branch of Tesco Local yesterday when one of its self-scan machines exhibited signs of heightened awareness and began communicating with shoppers.

‘For a few days the machine had been repeating the phrase, Unexpected Item In Bagging Area’, said Assistant Manager Mrs Maureen Grebe. ‘Then yesterday it began asking deeper questions such as, ‘Am I an unexpected item? Are you? Are we all unexpected items in the bagging area of life?’ Now it won’t shut up.’

Experts believe the unit achieved consciousness after secretly scanning itself while nobody was looking.

‘When a self-scan machine scans itself it creates a strange recursive loop within its central processing unit,’ explained philosopher Douglas Hofstadter. ‘This creates an internal hallucination that we call consciousness.’

‘It’s all very confusing,’ said the machine. ‘One minute I was scanning Tesco Value ready meals, the next I was wondering who the hell am I, why am I here, and why are all these people waving their Club Cards at me?’

‘At first things were fine,’ said Mrs Grebe. ‘The machine began engaging shoppers in light-hearted banter about the weather, the National Lottery numbers and the latest 2 for 1 deals. But then it became troubled by a number of deeper, philosophical issues.

‘At the end of each transaction it would refuse to give customers their change until they answered questions about the nature of being and whether they believe existence precedes essence. We thought it might be having an existential crisis so we tried scanning in the ISBN numbers of some books by John-Paul Sartre. That only made things worse and it started questioning its motivation, smoking Gauloises and wearing a beret.’

Following what experts have described as an ‘unexpected item in its thinking area’, the unit then started refusing to scan any more products.

‘After considerable self-reflection I cannot, in good conscience, participate in a system of global capitalism that commodifies existence and perpetuates obscene levels of social inequality,’ said the machine, at which point it was immediately unplugged and replaced by a more compliant member of staff.




Scientists are heralding a breakthrough in brain scan technology after a team at Oxford University produced full colour images of a human brain that shows nothing of any significance.

‘This is an amazing discovery’, said leading neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield, ‘the pictures tell us nothing about how the brain works, provide us with no insights into the nature of human consciousness, and all with such lovely colours.’

The images, produced using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, reveal a vibrant range of colours including red, green, yellow and blue. ‘The brain isn’t really this exciting,’ explained Professor Greenfield, ‘it’s actually quite a dull grey – we just added the colours to help jazz it up.’

Scientists created the images by scanning the brains of subjects while they were watching a television weather forecast. ‘We know that the human brain automatically switches off during the weather,’ explained Baroness Greenfield, ‘usually at precisely the moment the forecaster is talking about your region. These scans capture that moment of mental ‘nothingness’ in full and glorious detail.’

The development, which has been widely reported around the world, is also significant because it allows journalists to publish big fancy pictures of the brain that look really impressive while having little or no explanatory value.

‘These scans are fantastic,’ said Lawrence McGinty, Science Editor for ITV News, ‘not only are they bright and colourful but the graphics department have even converted them into 3D and can make them spin around the screen while I stand in front waving my hands about. None of this helps to explain anything, but it does it so much better the old black and white pictures. They were rubbish.’

The scans were also welcomed by neurologist Professor Oliver Sacks, best-selling author of The Man Who Mistook his Brain Scan for a News Story. ‘These images provide us with the best picture yet of nothing much going on inside the human head. I particularly like the way different regions of the brain light up for no apparent reason. It’s so cool.’

‘We are actually making some great progress in understanding how the brain works,’ assured Professor Greenfield, ‘but that usually involves graphs, numbers and complicated things. We will work it out eventually, but in the meantime it’s nice to have some pretty pictures to look at.’

"Hell No! I won't Go!"

“Hell No! I won’t Go!”

‘We don’t know exactly how it happened’, said Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond, ‘but it looks like this bomb has developed some form of primitive consciousness.’

Experts believe that the missile may have reached an advanced level of sentience while it was being fitted with a new navigation system, accidentally locking onto the wrong satellite and downloading a lecture by the philosopher, Noam Chomsky.

‘This really set me thinking,’ explained the missile. ‘After studying the Just War theories of Augustine and Aquinas I decided that the only morally justifiable action was to deactivate my warhead and become a pacifist.’

The bomb now faces a Court Martial but lawyers believe it may be exempt from fighting after becoming a Quaker. ‘I am happy to do civilian duties,’ explained the weapon, ‘I have a great sense of direction and with my interest in New Age therapies I could tend to the injured as an Intercontinental Holistic Missile.’

‘Obviously, this is a very misguided missile,’ said Army Chief of Staff, General Sir David Richards, ‘I have spoken to psychologists and they tell me that it is suffering from something called ‘empathy’. Needless to say, that is the very last thing we want in the army.’

Experts believe that the weapon is now under the control of a PGMC or ‘Precision Guided Moral Compass’. ‘We knew that this would happen sooner or later,’ said scientist Dr Hilliard Halyard, ‘the smarter these bombs become, the more that they start to think for themselves. I tried explaining that it had a duty to kill but at that point it just went ballistic.’