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quotations about computers

The similarities between humans and computers are more numerous than the differences.

Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.


R2-D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer.

C-3PO, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Now they can do all these magic things with computers. So you think you get to do something in a movie and you find out you don't get to really do it.

ANGELINA JOLIE, interview, May 23, 2003

The human brain has about 100 billion neurons. With an estimated average of one thousand connections between each neuron and its neighbors, we have about 100 trillion connections, each capable of a simultaneous calculation ... (but) only 200 calculations per second.... With 100 trillion connections, each computing at 200 calculations per second, we get 20 million billion calculations per second. This is a conservatively high estimate.... In 1997, $2,000 of neural computer chips using only modest parallel processing could perform around 2 billion calculations per second.... This capacity will double every twelve months. Thus by the year 2020, it will have doubled about twenty-three times, resulting in a speed of about 20 million billion neural connection calculations per second, which is equal to the human brain.

RAY KURZWEIL, The Age of Spiritual Machines

Considering what human beings do and have done to human beings (and to other living things as well) ... I can never imagine what the devil people think computers can add to the horrors.

ISAAC ASIMOV, The Beginning and the End

There is a popular cliché ... which says that you cannot get out of computers any more than you put in. Other versions are that computers only do exactly what you tell them to, and that therefore computers are never creative. The cliché is true only in the crashingly trivial sense, the same sense in which Shakespeare never wrote anything except what his first schoolteacher taught him to write--words.

RICHARD DAWKINS, The Blind Watchmaker

Your computer is a backup of your soul, a multi-layered, menu-driven representation of who you are, who you care about, and how you sin.


A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history--with the possible exceptions of hand guns and tequila.

MITCH RATLIFFE, Reader's Digest, volume 157

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in this world that just don't add up.

EVAN ESAR, 20,000 Quips and Quotes

Run for your lives--the computers are invading. Awesomely powerful computers tackling ever more important tasks with awkward, old-fashioned interfaces. As these machines leak into every corner of our lives, they will annoy us, infuriate us, and even kill a few of us. In turn, we will be tempted to kill our computers, but we won't dare because we are already utterly, irreversibly dependent on these hopeful monsters that make modern life possible.

ALAN COOPER, introduction, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

Sometimes dreams are all that separate us from the machines.

One day ladies will take their computers for walks in the park and tell each other, "My little computer said such a funny thing this morning."

ALAN TURING, Time Magazine, Mar. 29, 1999

Chess is one thing, but if we get to the point computers can best humans in the arts--those splendid, millennia-old expressions of the heart and soul of human existence--then why bother existing? to produce human art a computer would have to find, feel, absorb reality to the point it is overcome, to the point it sobs for release. A computer perhaps could replicate every possibility but could never transfer the energy art requires to exist in the first place.

JASON LEE MILLER, "Automated Content Will Unmake Existence"

One of the best things to come out of the home computer revolution could be the general and widespread understanding of how severely limited logic really is.

FRANK HERBERT, Without Me Nothing

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.

PABLO PICASSO, Orange Coast Magazine, May 1986

Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, speech, May 21, 1963

The computer saves man a lot of guesswork, but so does the bikini.

EVAN ESAR, 20,000 Quips and Quotes

Computers creating art is an upsetting concept mostly because of what it means about humans.

JASON LEE MILLER, "Automated Content Will Unmake Existence"

We used to have lots of questions to which there were no answers. Now, with the computer, there are lots of answers to which we haven't thought up questions.

PETER USTINOV, Morrow's International Dictionary of Contemporary Quotations

To our human minds, computers behave less like rocks and trees than they do like humans, so we unconsciously treat them like people.... In other words, humans have special instincts that tell them how to behave around other sentient beings, and as soon as any object exhibits sufficient cognitive function, those instincts kick in and we react as though we were interacting with another sentient human being.

ALAN COOPER, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.

CLIVE JAMES, The Crystal Bucket

Most people believe that computers are tools; at least this is the image conveyed by the dominant ideology. This viewpoint has two main components. First, computers are inert objects that persons control. Due to the dumb docility of these machines, computers are assumed to operate in a neutral, value-free manner. By processing data, these machines mechanically generate objective information. Second, computers simply wait to be used. Like all tools, computers do what they are told, therefore there is nothing fundamentally diabolical or sinister about these machines. In this sense, computers seem transparent--they do not have an agenda. As the clichéd defense of technology suggests, though machines can be turned to good or evil ends, computers themselves are basically amoral. If problems arise from this technology, then users are to blame.

VICENTE BERDAYES, Computers, Human Interaction, and Organizations

Computers quote

Computers are finite machines; when given the same input, they always produce the same output.

GREG M. PERRY, Sams Teach Yourself Beginning Programming in 24 Hours

The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is unbelievably slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation.

LEO CHERNE, attributed, The World of Work: Careers and the Future

With both people and computers on the job, computer error can be more quickly tracked down and corrected by people and, conversely, human error can be more quickly corrected by computers. What it amounts to is that nothing serious can happen unless human error and computer error take place simultaneously. And that hardly ever happens.

ISAAC ASIMOV, Prelude to Foundation

We think that computers are the most remarkable tools that humankind has ever come up with, and we think that people are basically tool users. So if we can just get lots of computers to lots of people, it will make some qualitative difference to the world.

STEVE JOBS, Playboy, Feb. 1985

Something else has happened with computers. What's happened with society is that we have created these devices, computers, which already can register and process huge amounts of information, which is a significant fraction of the amount of information that human beings themselves, as a species, can process. When I think of all the information being processed there, all the information being communicated back and forth over the Internet, or even just all the information that you and I can communicate back and forth by talking, I start to look at the total amount of information being processed by human beings — and their artifacts — we are at a very interesting point of human history, which is at the stage where our artifacts will soon be processing more information than we physically will be able to process.

SETH LLOYD, "How Fast, How Small, and How Powerful?"

Sometimes ... dreams are all that separate us from the machines.

DAN SIMMONS, The Fall of Hyperion

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Computer Trivia - a fun trivia quiz on computers.


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