The War on General Purpose Computers is the difference between utopia and dystopia
The general-purpose computer is one of the crowning achievements of industrial society. Prior to its invention, electronic calculating engines were each hardwired to do just one thing, like calculate ballistics tables. John von Neumann’s “von Neumann architecture” and Alan Turing’s “Turing-complete computer” provided the theoretical basis for building a calculating engine that could run any program that could be expressed in symbolic language. That breakthrough still ripples through society, revolutionizing every corner of our world. When everything is made of computers, an improvement in computers makes everything better.
But there’s a terrible corollary to that virtuous cycle: Any law or regulation that undermines computers’ utility or security also ripples through all the systems that have been colonized by the general-purpose computer. And therein lies the potential for untold trouble and mischief.
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