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Seriously: if there is a way to stuff up, it seems as if FinTech giant PayPal is working hard to implement it. Here's the "Virtual Agent." Remember: this is, at its heart, a tech company.

In his Newbury and Hobbes series of novels, author George Mann writes fantastical stories about where the Victorians' obsession with developing new technologies might go. They provide a bleak and terrifying future where automatons are available to pretty much anyone with money to spare and a will to kill. There are no benevolent butlers, no automated beauties as Hollywood portrays - only clunky machines with the single purpose of destruction - some with a worrying tendency to act alone once given instructions. Set 100 years ago, they are a parable for what some now want to ban. But the tech is only part of the problem. What about the people?

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