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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Chirpsithra Supercomputer  
  An alien race thoughtfully provides mankind with blueprints for the most intelligent computer ever made.  

This terrific short story by Larry Niven gives a somewhat less rosy view of the logical future of computing than you'll read in the typical PC magazine.

The chirpsithra are an alien race who have been around, well, practically forever from a human standpoint. They are regulars at the Draco Tavern, a watering hole (pub) built for humans and aliens right here on Earth. They're not easy to talk to, though, and you're never quite sure what they mean.

One slow afternoon I asked a pair of chirpsithra about intelligent computers.

"Oh yes, we built them," one said. "Long ago."

"You gave up? Why?"

One of the salmon-colored aliens made a chittering sound. The other said, "Reason enough. Machines should be proper servants. They should not talk back. Especially they should not presume to instruct their masters. Still, we did not throw away the knowledge we gained from the machines."

From Niven's Laws, by Larry Niven.
Published by Owlswick Press in 1984
Additional resources -

Gifts, like the blueprints for this computer, are especially suspect. This short quote is from a short story worth reading - it is a 1979 short story called The Schumann Computer, found in the collection cited below. The collection features a number of stories set in the Draco Tavern.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Niven's Laws
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven
  Tech news articles related to Niven's Laws
  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven

Chirpsithra Supercomputer-related news articles:
  - Make Money With Artificial Intelligence

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