Ed Felten reports:
I was at a conference in Washington, DC on Friday and Saturday. Participants included some people who are reasonably plugged in to the Washington political process. I was stunned to hear one of these folks sum up the Washington conventional wisdom like this:
"The political dialog today is that the general purpose computer is a threat, not only to copyright but to our entire future."
(It's worth noting that he was repeating the views of others rather than offering his own opinion -- and that he had a general-purpose computer open on the table in front of him as he said this!)
If I could take just one concept from computer science and magically implant it into the heads of everybody in Washington -- I mean really implant it, so that they understood the idea and its importance in the same way that computer scientists do -- it would be the role of the general-purpose computer. I would want them to understand, most of all, why there is no such thing as an almost-general-purpose computer.
This is downright scary. I know I talked about Hollings outlawing Turing machines, but to hear that this is received wisdom is chilling.