The Three Wishes and Countess Lovelace

Once upon a time, there was a man who let a fish go, rescued a genii, or freed a wizard from a briar patch…

Or something along those lines.

Anyway, an everyday guy does a good thing and is rewarded with three wishes.  He proceeds to ask for a thing, and then another thing that undoes the first thing, and then, finally, he asks for everything to go back to the way it was.  Almost every time.

Apparently, naughty jinn and computers were built in the same factory.  They’re very literal.  Usually in the ways that you wish they weren’t, like when they’re spewing out 5000 emails a minute to each of your subscribers, when they’re holding open the backdoor to an injection attack because you forgot to lock it with a semicolon, or when they’re attaching a sausage to your wife’s nose.  If you don’t ask for the right thing, at exactly the right time, very specifically, you get garbage back.  Just like the lady said, in note G of her Sketch of the Analytical Engine.

Perhaps there are more cautionary fables that would help enlighten the humans who write the code for the jinns who increasingly hold the fate of our data in their hands… I’d like to think there are.


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