# What is the name of a short story where a computer insists 2+2 is 5?

Many years ago in a US middle school, in an honors literature class we read a short story in English that has stuck with me since and I haven't been able to find it.

Roughly:

• someone creates a computer (called an automaton or something?
• "as is tradition" the creator and someone he is showing it off to ask it a simple math problem (like what is 2+2)
• The computer gives the wrong result, saying 2+2=5 or something
• The creator corrects them, but the computer doubles down
• Eventually the computer gets angry, rips itself out of the building, and chases them
• The computer insists 2+2=5 until eventually they kill it (with water?).

I think it was written in the first half of the 1900s, I want to say 1920s-30s. All I remember was reading it on some photocopied sheets the teacher handed out - so it may have been an excerpt.

I may be wrong about the exact numbers here (and may be why I can't find it via google).

The takeaway I remember was it being a warning about authoritarianism insisting on things that are incorrect, and how things like this can get away from even well-intentioned creators.

• Meanwhile in 2023, we have ChatGPT insisting that it's 2022 and telling users who disagree that they are "wrong, confused and rude": reddit.com/r/bing/comments/110eagl/… Commented May 5, 2023 at 9:48
• @MichaelBorgwardt It can't count either (ask for 5 examples, get a list of 4-6, etc.), so I thought the question would've been about AI from the title.
– Mast
Commented May 5, 2023 at 11:16
• The story Trurl’s machine is available as part of a collection at: archive.org/details/utopiastudentlit0000unse Commented May 5, 2023 at 21:31