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  • Mona Vale truck crash: Cootes Transport funded re-enactment

    Fireball: The tanker crash that claimed two lives in Mona Vale. Photo: Tim Pascoe Mona Vale crash: A driver and a passenger in another vehicle were killed in the explosion and five others were injured. Photo: Ben Rushton
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    Crucial re-enactment evidence in the case of a fatal truck crash on Sydney’s northern beaches was entirely funded by Cootes Transport, the employer of the truck driver facing multiple charges over the crash in which two people were killed.

    Truck driver Shane Day, 47, is facing charges including dangerous driving occasioning death, after the tanker he was driving crashed and exploded in Mona Vale in October, 2013. A driver and a passenger in another vehicle were killed in the huge explosion and five others were injured.

    Mr Day’s committal hearing in the Downing Centre Local Court court was told on Wednesday that, at the time of impact, Mr Day was travelling at 96k/h in a 70km/h zone.

    The officer in charge of investigating the crash, Senior Constable Trent Wheeler, also said that there was evidence that the gear Mr Day was driving in was too high for the steep gradient of the hill he was travelling on when the crash occurred.

    However, while Senior Constable Wheeler was under cross examination by Mr Day’s solicitor, Dennis Moralis, it emerged that a re-enactment of the accident that forms crucial evidence in the case was entirely funded by Cootes Transport, the company which employed Mr Day.

    Cootes was subsequently convicted of hundreds of road safety breaches and fined $500,000. The truck used in the re-enactment of Mr Day’s crash was 8 tonnes lighter than the one involved in the accident, the court heard.

    It also had fewer axles than the vehicle involved in the accident and did not feature worn brakes, as Mr Day’s truck did. “Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the re-enactment to have been conducted by someone unconnected to [the incident]?” Mr Moralis​ asked.

    The solicitor further questioned whether such a test was “objective”. Senior Constable Wheeler said he had been investigating the “driver, not the company”.

    He also agreed that he had been under pressure from more senior officers to arrest and charge Mr Day quickly.

    Later, the court heard that all of the brake drums on Mr Day’s tanker were ready or overdue for service and that a number of the brake shoes on the truck were out of alignment.

    Collision analyst John Ruller told the court that the brake defects would have had a significant impact on Mr Day’s ability to brake as he drove down the steep downward slope immediately before the accident took place.

    Under cross-examination, Mr Ruller​ accepted that this “may” have caused the accident.

    However, he later said that he believed the main causes were “human factors”, most notably the speed with which Mr Day arrived at the slope and his failure to change into a lower gear.

    The hearing continues.

  • NSW Swifts almost at do-or-die stage for clash against Melbourne Vixens

    All smiles: NSW Swifts players have a bit of fun during a press call for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen NSW Swifts players and coach Rob Wright ready for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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    All smiles: NSW Swifts players have a bit of fun during a press call for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

    NSW Swifts players and coach Rob Wright ready for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

    All smiles: NSW Swifts players have a bit of fun during a press call for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

    NSW Swifts players and coach Rob Wright ready for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

    All smiles: NSW Swifts players have a bit of fun during a press call for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

    NSW Swifts players and coach Rob Wright ready for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

    Liz Ellis: Swifts and Vixens in a battle for survival

    NSW Swifts Coach Rob Wright is reluctant to admit it, but English netball hall-of-famer Jade Clarke says her side will be in do-or-die mode when they take on the Melbourne Vixens at Allphones Arena on Sunday afternoon.

    Sitting fourth in the Australian conference, the Swifts are one point below their Melbourne rivals. They are desperate to orchestrate a string of wins and now is an opportune time given they have three home games on the trot.

    In doing so, the Swifts will be attempting to break the record for the largest crowd at an ANZ Championship regular season game – which stands at 10,118 when they played the Adelaide Thunderbirds in round 14 last year.

    Despite having played in front large crowds around the world for over a decade, Clarke, who has played 115 Tests for England, said she could only recall playing in front of a crowd that size against New Zealand in England in 2003.

    “To get that in an international game is amazing, but for a club game it’s just fantastic,” Clarke said. “It’s been a fair few years since I would have played in front of that many, I’m really excited. You just can’t even hear yourself think and it’s like having an extra player, so to be in there is going be really special.”

    Much has been made of the Swifts’ three draws this season, which might prove a deciding factor when the finals come around in five games time.  It’s something Clarke says her team have not been dwelling on, but are now under no illusions that they need to win almost every game from now on to be in the mix in May.

    “Yep [it is do-or-die] but that makes it even more exciting and this is why you play,” Clarke said. “We’ve just got to win every game from now on, it’s so important. I think we’ll perform well under that pressure because the heat is on.”

    Her coach is a little more upbeat but Wright was disappointed at not being able to finish off an excellent three and a half quarter display against New Zealand side Central Pulse last Sunday.

    “It’s not quite do-or-die, but it’s getting to that situation,” Wright said. “In reality, we know we need to win four of the five games to make the top three in our conference; that is not going to be an easy challenge. This one is going to be crucial for us.”

    The main players on Wright’s watch list will be “superstar” captain Bianca Chatfield and defender Geva Mentor, among a number of other “world class players” who will set up a salivating interstate rivalry in front of a potential record crowd.  “There’s nothing like playing at home,” Wright said. “Our members and fans are the best in the world and the support at home has just been unbelievable … I’ve never seen anything like it.”

  • Sydney storms get more intense as engineers begin to adjust to climate change

    Flooded areas in Milpera, south of Sydney, last week. Photo: Steven Siewert Torrential ran sweeps an Anzac commemoration. Photo: Jason South
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    Flooded areas in Milpera, south of Sydney, last week. Photo: Steven Siewert

    Flooded areas in Milpera, south of Sydney, last week. Photo: Steven Siewert

    Flooded areas in Milpera, south of Sydney, last week. Photo: Steven Siewert

    More rain to cap wettest April in 26 yearsSydney storm: Lessons and future threatsMore NSW news

    Sydney’s rain is becoming more torrential, particularly during summer, a trend researchers say will increase with further global warming and force engineers to design resilient structures that are able to limit the flood impacts.

    A study of 69 rain gauges in the greater Sydney region from 1966 to 2012 found that the number of short but intense rainfall events increased, while longer-duration deluges decreased, according to research by the University of Adelaide published in Nature Climate Change on Wednesday.

    “We see an increase in extremes in summer and relatively little change in other seasons,” said Seth Westra, a senior lecturer in civil engineering at the university, and one of the authors of the report.

    Dr Westra said extreme rainfall was increasing globally, with shorter events – such as those lasting less than an hour – “the most vulnerable to change”.

    “Flash flooding seems to be the thing that is most driven by atmospheric temperature,” he said. “So, if the atmospheric temperature goes up, you can potentially get a lot more flash-flood-type events.”

    Scientists have long known the atmosphere can hold about 7 per cent more moisture for each degree of warming, although just when and where the rain falls depends on circulation and other factors.

    The prospect that heavy rainfall events may become both more frequent and more intense has been one prompt to revise the Australian Rainfall and Runoff guidelines. First compiled in 1958, the national guidelines are now undergoing their first full revision in 28 years.

    The new report will contain a chapter on climate change for the first time and include work from Dr Westra and his team. Jason Evans, an associate professor at the University of NSW’s climate change centre, is preparing that chapter based on modelling out to 2050.

    “The historical record doesn’t necessarily give us a good picture of what we can expect in coming decades,” he said.

    “We do find that these [rainfall] extremes are increasing in the future, and we do find – in our model – that they increase by more than you’d expect, just based on the trend from the observations,” Professor Evans said.

    As brief rain events may become more extreme, engineers will have to reconsider how storm drains are designed, among other assets. Changes to longer-duration events, such as last week’s east coast low-generated storms in NSW, would have implications for designs of dams, bridges and other larger assets.

    “For the Sydney region, [longer-lasting storms] are expected to increase as well,” Professor Evans said.

    James Ball, an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney’s civil engineering school and chief editor of the new guidelines, said the revised report was scheduled to be finalised by the end of 2015, and would identify where flood risks were likely to increase or decrease around the nation.

    It will also remove antiquated guidelines set up by different councils and even states.

    For instance, the estimated flood exceedance measures used by engineers in Tweed Heads in NSW and Coolangatta in Queensland differ by a factor of two, depending on the location, even though both towns face approximately the same flood risk, Professor Ball said.

    “Different states had different procedures,” he said. “We’re trying to remove those inconsistencies from the guidelines.”

  • Nufarm sues federal government over leak of confidential information

    Nufarm’s profits from the sale of herbicide products have fallen since 2013. Photo: Luis AscuiCrop protection manufacturer Nufarm is suing the federal government for negligence after confidential information about two of its weed killer products was handed to its competitors.
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    Nufarm claims it lost sales and profit margin to its key competitors – Malaysian crop protection heavyweight Kenso and local outfits 4Farmers Australia and Conquest Crops – after its secret formulas and proprietary mixing instructions were passed on to its rivals through a product approval process.

    The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) handles that process and is defending the case Nufarm has launched in the Supreme Court of Victoria seeking unspecified damages, compensation, interest and costs. The company has declined to quantify  to Fairfax Media the damages it’s seeking for its loss of sales in the local herbicide market that brought in revenues of more than $400 million in full-year 2014. In recent years, Nufarm has seen the contribution from the sale of herbicide products in its Australian business wither from $417 million in 2013 to $411.9 million in 2014. For the first half of 2015 the company booked $157 million in revenues from its Australian herbicide business. APVMA chief executive Kareena Arthy declined to comment. At no point does Nufarm allege any misconduct or inappropriate behaviour by its competitors. Representatives from Kenso and Conquest declined to comment. Nufarm alleges it spent millions developing new crop products that were able to remove a particularly stubborn and herbicide-resistant rye grass from Australian farms. According to the company, the new product involved a complex mixing process and application process of two existing herbicides – triallate and trifluralin. Nufarm claims that the information it provided to APVMA to obtain a permit for the use and labelling of its new herbicide product was secret at the time. 4Farmers general manager Neil Mortimore said he was perplexed by Nufarm’s application, saying that the concept of mixing the two chemicals was “as old as the hills”. “I’d be really concerned if this case was successful as it could have major ramifications. Watch out Australian farmers your prices for chemicals are about to go up,” Mr Mortimore said. In 2009, Kenso was granted permission by the authority to replicate Nufarm’s mixing instructions on their own product labels, according to Nufarm. Nufarm alleges it raised questions over Kenso’s permit at the time and was assured the APMVA database would be updated to ensure its proprietary information was not passed on to its competitors. However, the authority allegedly failed to inform Nufarm that it had earlier in 2009 approved 4Farmers’s product and labelling, which also relied on Nufarm’s formulas.

    Conquest later allegedly relied on 4Farmers’ permit in its own application for a permit for a similar product.  “The APVMA owed a duty to Nufarm to take reasonable care to protect the protected information and the Nufarm mixing instructions from being exploited by Nufarm’s competitors,” the company said in its statement of claim.  Nufarm also alleges APVMA committed misfeasance in public office claiming it passed on the information with “reckless indifference” and caused the company losses.

  • Jeff Fenech tips Floyd Mayweather to beat Manny Pacquiao

    Floyd Mayweather is tipped by Jeff Fenech to keep his unbeaten record intact. Photo: Isaac BrekkenAustralian boxing legend Jeff Fenech is expecting Floyd Mayweather to remain unbeaten when he fights Manny Pacquiao on Sunday morning.
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    Mayweather has won all 47 of his previous professional career fights, while Pacquiao has 57 wins, five losses and two draws alongside his name.

    Widely regarded as the two best pound-for-pound fighters of the past decade, speculation about a potential fight has been rife since 2009.

    But Fenech believes the time is right now.

    “Someone walked into my house today and said; ‘Jeff, is it five years too late?'” Fenech said on 6PR’s Sports Today program.

    “I said; ‘listen, if it was five years earlier, Floyd would have got 20 million and the other guy would have got 10 million, the timing is perfect.'”

    The fight is expected to gross in the vicinity of US$300 million with tickets selling for as much as US$41,000 and the television pay-per-per-view costing $90 in the USA and $60 in Australia.

    Mayweather, who goes by the moniker of “Money Mayweather”, will recoup 60 per cent of the purse after the fight.

    Triple World Champion Fenech will be ringside at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas when the fight takes place and said Mayweather’s size gave him the upper hand.

    “Floyd is naturally bigger and Floyd is different. Floyd can punch, Floyd is strong,” Fenech said.

    “I definitely believe that Pacquiao will be aggressive, but I think if Floyd stands there and trades with him that might be the downfall of Pacquiao.

    “I believe he will keep the perfect record.”

    The fight will take place at welterweight – 147 pounds or 66.7 kilograms – meaning both fighters will have to weigh in below that the day before the fight.

    Pacquiao is the smaller fighter at 169 centimetres and started his career flyweight.

    Mayweather is four centimetres taller with a reach advantage of almost 13 centimetres and began his career at junior lightweight, eight kilograms heavier than his opponent.

    Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao

  • WWI in the Herald: April 26, 1915

    WWI in the Herald: Archive
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    MONDAY 26 APRIL 1915

    OUR SYDNEY LETTER. THE NATION IN ARMS. THE ROUTE MARCH THROUGH SYDNEY.

    IN THE DARDANELLES. DECISIVE ACTION. ALLIES LANDING TROOPS.

    FAREWELL TO TROOPS. A GREAT DEMONSTRATION. IN SYDNEY.

    LOOTING AT RABAUL. INQUIRY TO BE THOROUGH.

    WALLSEND AND PLATTSBURG. WALLSEND RED CROSS SOCIETY. COMFORTS SENT TO NEWCASTLE DEPOT.

    (From Embarkation Rolls)

    Private William Thomas Alder, Newcastle, 18th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

    Private Francis Samuel Atkinson, Wallsend, 3rd Infantry Battalion, 6th Reinforcements

    Private Albert Charles Bray, Hamilton, 17th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

    Sapper Alexander Chalmers, Wallsend, 1st Field Company Engineers, 8th Reinforcements

    Staff Nurse Kathleen Lillie Doyle, Gouldsville, 3rd Australian General Hospital

    Private Alan Leonard Gibson, Plattsburg, 3rd Australian General Hospital

    Private John Stewart Godfrey, East Maitland, 25th Infantry Battalion

    Staff Nurse Emily Beryl Henson, Mayfield, 3rd Australian General Hospital

    Private Victor Harold Pascoe, Dungog, 3rd Infantry Battalion, 6th Reinforcements

    Private John Aloysius Power, West Maitland, 20th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements

    Private Graham John Protheroe, Newcastle, 7th Australian Light Horse Regiment , 5th Reinforcements

    Staff Nurse Edith Danson Rush, Nelson Bay, 3rd Australian General Hospital

    Private William Sephton, Wallsend, 19th Infantry Battalion

    Staff Nurse Emily Beatrice Taylor, West Maitland, 3rd Australian General Hospital

    Private Edward Cyril Bird, Singleton, 2nd Infantry Battalion

    Private Arthur Ernest Keppie, Paterson, 4th Infantry Battalion

    Private Norman Marvyn Rushforth, Murrurundi, 15th Infantry Battalion

    Private James Howe Sharp, West Wallsend, 4th Infantry Battalion

    Private Ferner Smith, Bungwahl, 4th Infantry Battalion

  • Colin Hay: Back on home soil

    Former Men At Work frontman Colin Hay.DESPITE having written plenty of amazing and iconic songs, Colin Hay still finds songwriting incredibly difficult.
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    ‘‘I struggle a lot with writing songs,’’ the former Men At Work frontman said.

    ‘‘Sometimes when they pop out of the air, you think ‘phew, I’m glad that popped out’ but generally that’s the exception.

    ‘‘It’s not a struggle coming up with ideas, ideas are easy, there’s plenty of them.

    ‘‘But finishing a song, that’s the tricky part.

    ‘‘On my last album, Gathering Mercury, the title track … I had the music for that for … probably 10 years.

    ‘‘It was a cool piece, but I could never come up with the best idea lyrically, but what I ended up with I was really happy with.

    ‘‘There are songs that I still might record where the original idea came to me in 1976. I’ve still got a few of those hanging around.’’

    Digging back into those old ideas is one of the only times Hay consciously examines his past, but he doesn’t mind conceding that his four decades in the music industry have been an interesting ride.

    He began playing guitar as a teenager, but took it more seriously from 1967 when his family moved to Melbourne and Hay immersed himself in the music community.

    He and his Men At Work band mates spent two years writing and performing before landing a deal to release the breakthrough debut album, Business as Usual, in 1981.

    Producing the band’s classic Down Under and Who Could It Be Now?, the album went five-times platinum within the first year, won a Grammy and sold more than 10 million copies.

    The follow-up, Cargo, went gold and shifted another five million copies, but disputes within the band put an end to the original line-up.

    A final album recorded by Hay and saxophonist/keyboardist Greg Ham, Two Hearts, was released in 1985 before they went their separate ways.

    ‘‘Men At Work was a very powerful thing but it only lasted … about 4 years and then it was done, so I’ve been on my own for 32 years and that’s a long time.

    ‘‘The movement forward since Men At Work has been quite gradual in a way, with strong punctuation marks, like [my appearances on television show] Scrubs and things that give you a high level of prosperity.

    ‘‘But I’m almost 62. I could fall over any time. No one knows when that’s going to happen.

    ‘‘In that light I’m more concerned about [focusing on] things happening now and into the future.’’

    Los Angeles-based Hay is back on home soil for a 13-date tour, including two shows at Lizotte’s Newcastle on May 7 and 8.

    That will be followed by two months touring the US alongside Violent Femmes and Barenaked Ladies to promote his new album Next Year People.

    ‘‘The thing is I just always try to write a better one than the one before. That’s really the only brief I give myself,’’ Hay said of the album, which is his 12th solo release.

    ‘‘I just try to keep people coming to shows … and make people have a good time for a few hours.

    ‘‘It’s a good thing to do. I’m happy with my life, all things considered.’’

    Since going it alone after Men At Work split in 1985, Hay has developed a reputation as an engaging storyteller, sharing anecdotes between songs about his colourful life.

    Hay credits his father – and mother, too – for giving him his ‘‘musical DNA’’.

    Born and raised in Scotland before moving to Australia with his family aged 14, Hay’s life was surrounded by music. His father, a singing and dancing stage performer as a teen, worked as a piano tuner and ran a music store with his wife in Glasgow, selling records and instruments.

    Hay now realises how much his childhood in that shop shaped his own path as a musician.

    ‘‘You didn’t really think of that when you’re in the middle of it because you just think ‘Oh well, my mum and dad have got a record shop, but maybe everyone has record shops’,’’ he said.

    ‘‘It was a dream come true for a kid, though I think my interest in music had more to do with the DNA. The fact my father could sing well and my mother could sing too had a lot to do with it.’’

    Colin Hay performs at Lizotte’s Newcastle on May 7 and 8. Bookings online at lizottesm.au.

  • Horse lovers’ paradise in Motto Farm

    Rainbird Lodge at 8 Rainbird Close Motto FarmMOTTO FARM
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    Around $2.4 million

    Address: 8 Rainbird Close.

    House: Double brick and tile on 9.59 hectares.

    Inspect: By appointment.

    Agent: Bill Quirk, Borrelli Quirk Real Estate, 0402957 055.

    TUCKED in behind the Pacific Highway and offering easy access routes north and south, as well as to Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, this house is set on 23.7 acres of level land.

    With four self-irrigated, fenced paddocks, two of which are post and rail, the property could suit anyone looking for a place to pursue equestrian activities and has had horses on the land previously.

    The home of Graham and Joanne Gamer, of Gamer Motor Auctions at Cardiff, since 1983, it is a hidden oasis.

    “Every time someone comes here, they are amazed. Once you are inside the gates, the outlook takes your breath away,” Joanne Gamer said.

    The executive family residence is surrounded by picturesque and manicured gardens with features such as a stone labyrinth, a large covered entertainment area and a solar-heated, in-ground swimming pool. Raised vegetable beds and a state-of-the-art chookhouse are additional delightful features to the garden, which has participated in the Australia’s Open Garden Scheme a few times.

    A rear deck has spectacular views over pastoral land to the saltwater Hunter River, which can be reached via the rear of the property.

    Cleverly designed for living large and entertaining, the double brick and terracotta tile house is airconditioned and offers space and single-level comfort.

    There are four bedrooms, including the master with an en suite, a main family bathroom, open-plan living areas and a chef’s kitchen.

    Dressed in double brick with slate floors and granite benchtops, Gaggenhau appliances include an induction cooktop and barbecue and there is a custom-built rangehood and a dishwasher.

    The two large lounges have fireplaces and the formal dining room and family room both have cathedral ceilings.

    Outside there is a three-car garage and parking for six more vehicles, as well as a shed, and automated speer groundwater systems connected to paddock troughs.

  • WWI in the Herald: May 1, 1915

    WWI in the Herald: Archive
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    SATURDAY 1 MAY 1915

    London, Friday.

    “The Times,” in a leading article, regarding the Government’s congratulations to the Commonwealth, states that the Australians’ gallantry is very grateful news to the British people.

    Nothing moved the mother country more than the devotion of daughter nations. She sees in it the best auguries for the lofty ideals and spiritual traditions of the race.

    “Britishers,” it says, “want to know why news available in Melbourne and Wellington is not announced in London.”

    “The Daily Mail” complains that Britain is not yet allowed to hear anything about the Australians’ and New Zealanders’ magnificent services in the Dardanelles.

    The newspapers generally, complain that they are not allowed to know the details of the gallantry of the Australians and New Zealand troops in the Dardanelles, which they state have been published in Australia.

    MELBOURNE, Friday.

    When the House of Representatives met today, Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister, said the following cable message had been received by the Government from His Majesty the King:-

    “Hearty congratulations to you on the splendid conduct and bravery displayed by the Australian troops in the operations at the Dardanelles, who have indeed proven themselves worthy sons of the Empire.” In reply to the King’s message, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, the Governor-General today sent the following cable gram:-

    “The Governor-General, with his humble duty to your Majesty, and on behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth, offers thanks for the gracious message of congratulations. Australia is proud to know that her troops have earned such high commendation from their King. The people of the Commonwealth continue steadfast in their resolve to place all their resources at your Majesty’s disposal to maintain unity and safeguard the welfare of the Empire.”

    (From Embarkation Rolls)

    Staff Sgt Myles Burnett Connor, Newcastle, Siege Arty Bde

    Pte John Nicholas Cooke, The Junction, 7th Reinfts 5th Inf Bn

    Pte Frank Jackson Dooley, Merewether, 19th Inf Bn

    Pte Sydney Levien Hooke, Newcastle, 13th Coy ASC Field Bakery

    Pte William Alexander Petherbridge, East Maitland, 18th Inf Bn

    Pte William James Thompson, Ladysmith, 2nd Reinfts 22nd Inf Bn

    Pte Eric Stanley Wright, Merewether, 30th Inf Bn

    L/Sgt Lafayette Aloaso Sherburne, Newcastle, 4th Inf Bn

    Pte James Glendenning Logan, Newcastle, 1st Inf Bn

  • Ex Machina: Frankenstein for thesearch-engine era

    Ex Machina is a thriller about artificial intelligence.IN his novels The Beach and The Tesseract, in his screenplays Sunshine and 28 Days Later, and even in his adaptations of other people’s work, like Never Let Me Go and Dredd, Alex Garland wrestles with similarly knotty themes: the corruption of utopian ideals, the intersection where science and human behaviour collide, the possibility that technology can go wrong.
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    In his directing debut, the riveting sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, Garland bundles those concepts to explore how consciousness and free will factor into the equation.

    A billionaire tech titan has developed a sentient machine and invites one of his brainy programmers to spend a week testing her – her name is Ava – to see whether she represents true artificial intelligence, a thinking, feeling entity.

    Oscar Isaac stars as the search-engine-era Dr Frankenstein, Domhnall Gleeson is the young techie, and Alicia Vikander, part Swedish actress, part prosthetics, part visual effects, is the robot creature.

    What does Garland see happening in the future?

    Is the sort of independent-thinking, emotionally attuned machine Vikander represents in his movie going to happen in the real world?

    ‘‘It’s impossible to know. It’s got a lot of parallels with the cure for cancer, in as much as there may be breakthroughs in AI and then what those breakthroughs do is they demonstrate how hard the job is – and the goalposts shift away from where they were perceived to be previously,’’ he said.

    ‘‘That said, do I think there will be AIs one day that are strong AIs and that have sentience? If I had to bet, I’d bet yes, just in the way that I would bet that there will be a cure for cancer despite all the complexities of cancer.

    ‘‘But one of the pleasures of working on this film is that I’ve got to meet people who are involved at a very high level of current AI research, and you pretty much get the same message from all of them, which is that it will happen, but it’s not about to happen.’’

    TNS