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The ethics of service

You remember HAL - short for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. It was the archetypal artificial intelligence that guided spaceship Discovery across the solar system in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Designed to keep the deep space mission running smoothly, HAL performed brilliantly… right up to the moment it lost its silicon marbles and tried to kill everyone on board. Ever since, the war of man against machine has raged on as computers insinuate themselves deeper and deeper into our lives.

But is it really the computers that cause us so much grief, even as they try to make our lives easier? Isn't it rather the designers, the programmers and, most of all, the technical support teams who bear responsibility for perpetuating the love-hate relationship between human beings and our inorganic alter-egos?

Click here to read this week's column.

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