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An old science fiction story has come to mind many times over the years - but somehow the memory became muddled - imagine that! The NSA issues in the past week or two once again recalled to mind this story, which dealt with the problems the information age might present.

To my younger readers (ha! I don't really have any...) I would remind you that firms in the 60's used to use hollerith-encoded "punched cards" to record details of transactions. They would sent them out to customers with a stern warning printed on them at the top: "Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate" - any of which actions making the card either useless or error-prone.

In his story "Computers Don't Argue" (1965) Gordon Dickson took the problems with computers and these punched cards to a logical, and horrific conclusion. For years my addled memory was telling me this was an Asimov short story, but I'm delighted to have tracked it down today, by the miracle of the Internet. The full story is downloadable here. I'm hoping this link is with the permission of the copyright holder - I don't encourage the electronic theft of materials. Fingers crossed I don't receive a punched card in the mail...

http://ebookbrowse.com/computers-don-t-argue-by-gordon-dickson-rtf-d282470636

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