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Crossing the boundary: analogue universe, digital worlds
Crossing the boundary: analogue universe, digital worlds

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2.8 The price

But using computers to acquire, store, exchange and manipulate data comes at a price. By this, I don't mean that the technology is expensive, although this may be an issue. Rather it's the fact that the quality of the information computers give us can often be suspect. More worrying still are the questions of privacy, liberty and security that are raised. The computer gives ordinary people unprecedented access to information. But it also gives people that might not wish us well – governments, criminals, terrorists – similar access, including access to information about you and me.

There is also a less obvious penalty for crossing the boundary into the digital world, which I consider in Section 7.1. The fact that we have captured a certain feature of the world into a computer does not mean that we have captured the feature itself. We only have a representation of it, and an imperfect one at that. We would be unwise to place perfect trust in what our computers tell us.