I just read a terrific a book about the limitation of what computers can really accomplish, Dreaming in Code. That is, those patiently awaiting singularity — the day when computers will become as smart as humans, well, you should just relax for a bit. Someone has got to write that code, don't you know?
This except by the author, Scott Rosenburg caught my attention:
"The Internal Revenue Service…has tried three times in the last four decades to modernize its computer systems, it has had no success to date and still relies on a rickety mainframe system dating back to the 1960s that is held together by the digital equivalent of chewing gum and bailing wire. The first attempt to upgrade IRS systems was abandoned by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s; the second was cancelled by Congress in 1995, after ten years’ labor and $2 billion failed to produce a working upgrade. The most recent effort has suffered massive delays and cost overruns. Fingers point to the usually problems: constant changes and additions to the list of requirements; limited or passive oversight by the IRS, revolving door CIO, unrealistic budgets and schedules."