The Scexit Files: New Scientist, April 2025
“Nothing escapes The Eye,” grins Dr Dave Bowman.
His lab at Heriot Watt has just unveiled the latest big data computer project that will revolutionise political campaigning. With cutting edge artificial intelligence, The Eye aims to win – and win big.
“Remember how Dominic Cummings scribbled for hours to come up with ‘Take Back Control’,” Bowman says. “Now, The Eye can pump out a killer slogan in 0.03 seconds, with 250 other ones to spare.”
Rumours abound that the SNP has already signed a contract in preparation for Indy Ref 2. “You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment,” Bowman says, blushing about the neck.
But he’s not coy about its capabilities. “Once we feed in data about the timing and rules of the referendum, we can generate slogans for any eventuality.”
“‘Yes, Scotland’ was pretty effective in 2014,” he admits. “I just love its positive negativity.” The concept seems contradictory, but Bowman stands by it. “It’s crucial to rubbish your opponent by calling them negative – even if calling them negative is just as negative. But no one notices that. It’s genius!”
When it comes to a second referendum, Dr Bowman insists The Eye is a game changer. “Absolutely! We can even produce messages for different segments of the electorate.”
He turns and types like a tap dancer on tippy-toe. The program has no flashing lights: just a simple output, this time for the Scottish green voter. In less than a nano-second – hey presto – ‘It’s Scotland’s Soil!’
Bowman smiles with pride. “Pure organic nationalism!”
Of course, a key test is whether The Eye can tailor a message to the hard core apathetic voter. The uncommitted punter – bogged down by ‘neverendum’ – is notoriously hard to reach.
He hits ‘Enter’ and there it is: ‘Get Scexit Done.’ If you’re surprised at its unoriginality, Bowman is unrepentant: “Never underestimate the power of boredom. People just want it to go away.”
But Bowman is still perfecting his search. Like splitting the political atom, The Eye is looking for a killer phrase that will cleave the whole country apart, once and for all.
His assistant, Frank, loads up his latest dataset. There’s everything here – from campaign pronouncements to treasury spreadsheets to social media intelligence. Terabytes of input have been trawled from the internet. “The Eye knows more than God does.”
It all takes a little longer to process, but the result will distil the Independence campaign to its purest. The two men wait impassively till the data is sifted and digested. Six minutes and twenty-five seconds later, Bowman jolts bolt upright as the result flashes up on screen. The stark message cuts to the core as they blink in disbelief.
‘Make England Foreign Again.’
“It can’t be,” says Frank. “… it just can’t …”
Bowman sits stone-faced. “The Eye has seen the truth.”
The 3D printer whirrs into action, instantly lasering its slogan upon the Indy campaign hat.
And if the cap fits – wear it.
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