A lot of old science fiction stories and films featured powerful computers: computers so intelligent that people thought nothing about handing control of the world over to them. Often they were foolish to do so - the computers, lacking a proper human heart, might be exceptional rational thinkers, but they would be callous with regard to human lives. Or maybe they would be better than us in every way and would choose to do away with us to create their own superior civilisation.
Sometimes I wonder about some hypothetical science fiction fan from the fifties, frozen in a time warp. If he or she popped out into the room you are in right now, how would you, reading this on the world wide web, explain that yes, in this day and age we have turned control of the world over to computers - but no, they're not vast rational intelligences, they're dumb, capricious, occasionally spiteful creatures, all connected together and conspiring, like a nest of dimwitted, jealous imps?
In other news, Typepad comments have stopped working for me again. I want to speak, but the imps won't let me.