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Computers Only Do

For years I have heard the phrase “computers only do what you tell them to do”. This is usually after someone complains that the computer did something silly and is intended to shift the blame back to the user for asking the wrong question.

While it is true that in many cases, the user did do something wrong, it is definitely not true that the computer only does what you ask it to. Unless you are as strict as the big free software advocats like Richard Stallman, you will inevitably be running proprietary software. You will have code running on your machine that you do not have access to and will possibly be doing things you don’t want it to.

I am not making any value judgements here. It is just an observation. Computers don’t only do what you ask them to, they also do what other people have asked them as well.

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