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To err is human, but to make a real mess requires a computer. Whether it is sending out a gas bill for ten million dollars, or sending a letter to the parents of a one-hundred-and-four year-old woman reminding them that she is due to start school, the rise of the computer has certainly opened up new avenues for getting things wrong in a big way.

But really it’s not the computer that gets things wrong. It’s the people that told it what to do. A computer is very good at obeying instructions. The trouble is, being just a collection of electronic circuits, it has no ability to independently check them for sanity first.