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"The first thing that's wrong with being a science-fiction writer today is that the present has caught up with the future and surpassed it."
- Peter Watts

No Human Programmers  
  The idea that computers are too complicated and too important to be programmed by human beings.  

This is an early direct reference to this idea.

There are nine people on the Council. I donít know why, though the BC might tell me if I asked, since it nominates and elects Council members. Iíve always fancied itís so in case we ever screw up so totally that the universe does come apart at the seams and all eras coexist, we can field a team in the Never-neverland World Series.

Technically itís called the Programmersí Council. Thatís a polite fiction. They donít do any programming. Computers long ago grew too complex and too accurate to allow a mere human to fuck around with their instructions.

Yet there are qualities no one has ever succeeded in placing into the memory banks.

Donít ask me what they are.

Imagination might be one of them, empathy another. Or I could just be giving the human race credit for more than it deserves. Maybe the BC supports and maintains the Council to keep itself in check, to prevent it from actually becoming God. There is that hazard. Possibly the BC needs an element of fool-hardiness and prejudice and meanness and ornery self-interest to give it perspective. Or maybe, like the rest of us, it just needs a giggle now and then.

From Millenium, by John Varley.
Published by Berkley Books in 1983
Additional resources -

Compare to the City Fathers from Cities in Flight (1950's) by James Blish and Vulcan 3 from Vulcan's Hammer (1960) by Philip K. Dick.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Millenium
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