If you didn't look at him too closely, it would be easy to run away with the idea that Chris Grayling is human. But those who have watched the Justice Secretary in action know better. He is, in fact, a highly advanced android.
Once you know the truth, it seems obvious. The vast lumbering bulk; the stiff efficiency of movement; the mechanical monotony of speech; the headlamp glare from the eye sockets. It could only be an android.
Still, its creators deserve credit. The android - or, as they call it at the lab, the Justice 3000 - looks on first glance passably similar to a living, breathing person. The voter might not immediately guess that beneath its skin-like exterior lies a system of circuits, sensors, chips and pistons. Future models may even be able to grow hair.
Today the Justice 3000 delivered a speech in London about the rehabilitation of offenders. It was impressive. Not the content of the speech, obviously - I mean the imitation of normal MP behaviour. The J-3000 had been programmed with all the right phrases ("very real issue", "strain every sinew", "the status quo is not an option"). It was also able to execute rudimentary human actions: blinking, nodding, not opening fire on its audience with the lasers embedded in its wrists, that sort of thing.
So far it still has difficulty pointing to an audience member who wants to ask a question: at present it awkwardly swings its right arm up as if doing a reverse karate chop. The team at the lab are working on it.
The J-3000 was built to appease Conservative backbenchers, who had been demanding the sort of hard-line approach to justice that only a killer android can deliver. But David Cameron is anxious that the J-3000 should come across as convincingly human. Hence today's speech on the soft, liberal subject of rehabilitation, allowing the J-3000 to use words such as "tragedy", "family", "troubled" and "I feel".
The theme was that, in future, reformed criminals will act as mentors to prisoners who have been released after short sentences. So, if you've just completed nine months inside, you'll be met at the prison gates by an ex-con gone straight (a thief, a drug dealer, a mugger, Jeffrey Archer), and he'll help you adjust to life outside. This is "making good use of old lags", intoned the J-3000, as if it were talking about the reuse of plastic shopping bags.
Provided the J-3000 continues to run smoothly, it may solve the Government's reputational problems. All being well, in six months identical models will take charge of any departments that have embarrassed the Prime Minister through human error, such as the Home Office, the Treasury, Environment, Energy, Business, Health, Transport, Education, Defence and all others.
Eventually an android will also be appointed Chief Whip, although the Prime Minister is reluctant to proceed until its ability to interact with humans is more sophisticated. At this early stage in development, there are certain risks.
"Humanoid obstruction detected at Downing Street gate. ELIMINATE!"