The power of computing, and the thrill of its apparently infinite possibilities, has also long been a source of fear.
Going into a San Francisco second-hand book shop, shortly before a visit to Google’s headquarters in California, I happened upon a copy of Dick Tracy, an old novel based on Chester Gould’s cartoon strip starring America’s favourite detective.
For a 1970 publication, the plot seemed remarkably topical. Dick, and his sidekick Sam Catchem, find themselves battling a sinister character known as “Mr Computer” who wants to control the world. His strange powers enable him to remember everything he hears or sees and recall it instantly. This is a bad guy who can store data, analyse voice patterns and read private thoughts.
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