Monday, April 19, 2010

Software genies

Note, the title doesn't say 'genius' as some might expect. There is a lot of hubris that has been generated by systems weenies, what with the exhibited prowess, the accumulated monies, and the wizardry aura.

Guess what, folks? Throughout our times, humans have been foil for peddlers and malfeasance. Nothing wrong with that, capitalism comes out of that realm. Too, our materialistic, and scientific, progress has caused us to ignore the fact that there is a whole lot that we don't control.

For the most part, the systems, including control, people have won the day. Certain operating systems just crash with no warning (and on a massive scale). So we grumble, but to whom can there be a complaint? Too, the web user, many times, runs into some interminable process (hey, peoples, the basic notion here is undecidability). In this case, just redoing the action can overcome the problem.

There are many, many examples. And, OS, and system, crashes have been the direct cause of billions of losses. How much is being bled, malfeasance'd, from our economy with web-assisted means?

Anyone take the blame here? With these types of losses?


Well, in some cases, such as medical computing, we've seen cases where culpability was established and enforced. Too, in flight systems, there is a lot of thought and effort put into safe computing. And, finally, there is going to be an effort at beefing up cyber security.

Ever think the WWW as safe? Of course, that question is directed in the context of mature reason and actual experience. The actions of a whole bunch of unawares seem to indicate that the real problems are not understood. Perhaps, training ought to be better (computing, like other important things, ought to be safe).

Now, did you ever think that computer-related failures would show up in your car? Again, 'computer-related' here subsumes a whole lot, including the systems and the mathematics. Did you think that hubris would allow the spawning of potential 'genies' on the populace on such a large scale (thank goodness, for the older technology)?

But, it has happened and will continue.


It's interesting that Consumer Report did some testing before the fact. One thing to be concerned about is the completeness of those things tested before a car is released to the public. Of course, 'completeness' is used advisedly (think Godel), as we cannot attain such, to the nth degree that the political types would like to have us believe.

No, there will be tradeoffs which will require us to be smart. And, the tradeoff analysis ought to be done in a visible arena.

So, we'll see failures. Is the forum open? No, and, then they 'hack' a solution and cast it out across the waters! I guess we need to make it more apparent that changes, themselves release new 'genies' in a manner that requires extreme care (like making software an industry problem, for example).


One thing to point out is that hubris leads many to think that some entity that is a collection of systems and sensors is equivalent to a real being. Part of the hubris rests on advances that show that control, and convergence, are partly algorithmic. Yet, that success can hide just how close we come to divergence.

The recent test results point to an area that we need to rethink. And, from this blogger's view, it'll end up requiring what might be specified as 'truth' engineering (of course, there may be a better moniker to use as a handle for the subject).


01/23/2015 -- Software? Well, we are talking more than apps (latest craze). We are dealing with fundamental questions which, then, gives rise to normative issues in mathematics (and, by extension, to the computational).

03/09/2013 -- Zeno can be put forth today in other than a facetious sense.

03/23/2012 -- Renewal of the idea (and related energies) via Cooper and CiE.

11/21/2010 -- Three years ago, it was said: Computational foci raise miraculous need. Still applies.

10/07/2010 -- Several principles need to be explored, such as the ergodic one.

09/28/2010 -- It nice to see the IEEE weigh in. Notice: sensors galore, driver in the loop, ...

05/10/2010 -- Out of control, essentially. Commentary, and cartoon, via USA Today is right on.

Modified: 01/23/2015

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