My Gadget Life – James May

The Lego housebuilder and Top Gear host talks to Stuff about self-driving cars, cats falling over on YouTube and the time he shot his mobile phone

We caught up with Top Gear's "Captain Slow" to get his thoughts on gadgets, technology, the internet and – of course – cats. Here, in his own words, James May opens up...

I shot a mobile phone once. It was a long time ago with an early mobile that was particularly irritating and kept going wrong. I think it was an old grey Nokia. I've still got it, still got the charger and it still works. It's bloody well made.

I edited my own Wikipedia entry and my edits were rejected by the moderator. I actually had to write in and say that I was James May and tell them what parts they had got wrong. I've donated to Wikipedia recently because I think it’s the perfect example of a properly useful use of technology. I also like watching videos of people's dogs and cats falling over on YouTube. That's brilliant as well.

My favourite gadget’s my iPad. I bought one fairly early on and at first I thought it was a bit of a gimmick, but it's actually like having an encyclopaedia under your arm all the time. People witter on about people talking rubbish and spreading hatred on the internet, but for every one of those there's a million people pooling their knowledge of bicycle puncture repair or flower arrangement or model railways or the history of the Napoleonic war. It's life changing.

I wouldn't say I'm an apps geek. I've got a few games, one about bird songs, another on plane spotting and one for crosswords, but I tend to be a bit biased towards things like pen knives and tools rather than electronic gadgets. That said, I like Stuff, and not just the magazine. I think PCs are the most brilliant things I've used in my lifetime.

I don't like the noise printers make. When I hear that whirring calibrating noise they make, it makes me want to scream. I hate it.

The trouble with self-driving cars is that there are other unpredictable things like dogs and drunks. Technologists must never underestimate the power of the human brain – I think robotics and AI are a long long way from even what a mouse can do. It's a nice idea but I don't think it's right around the corner. I think all we'll get around the corner is a drunk standing in the middle of the road.

James May is a journalist and TV presenter, best known for his work on Top Gear. His app – James May's Science Stories – is available from the App Store for £1.99

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