"The Silver Bullet"

In "No Silver Bullet --Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering", author Fred Brooks argues about the inherent unreliability in software, and that there is perhaps no 'silver bullet' that will ever be found to correct the situation.

Louis Savain has something to say about that.

In "The Silver Bullet" he counters by saying:

There Is a Silver Bullet After All The brains of humans and animals are the existence proof that there is a silver bullet. Robustness and reliability are measured in terms of defects vs. complexity. Because of its sheer astronomical complexity, the brain is the most reliable complex system in the world. In fact, the more complex the brain gets (as it learns), the more reliable it becomes. By contrast, the reliability of software gets worse as its complexity increases. Any handcrafted software with the complexity of the brain would be so riddled with bugs as to be unusable. Conversely, given their low relative complexity, any handcrafted software with the reliability of the brain would almost never fail.

This all leads into the description of Louis' brain child: Project COSA. Project COSA is a revolutionary take on software development. It removes the notion of a system of heterogeneous executable binaries, and instead presents a model consisting of a single execution kernel which passes over an entire network of 'cells' taking signals from output plugs and moving them to input sockets on other cells.

Perhaps it could be thought of as programming using software integrated circuits, but in an abstract sense.

If anything, it is certainly a departure from the normal syntax driven, algorithm based languages used now.

While still a work in progress, it is something that all LtUers would be interesting in checking out.

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And those are just the major bugs...

And that list doesn't seem to cover things like dyslexia, faulty memories, freudian slips and other speaking maladies (see GW Bush for further reference), psychological addictions such as addictions to shopping, gambling, and pornography, deja vu, and any of a hundred other things I could probably think of if I really wanted to...


Rebel science

The guy seems to be contradicting himself in his articles. In his "Rebel Science" one he goes on at bashing "voodoo science" like the subject matter of any theorist who deal with concepts such as strong AI, black holes etc; while in his "The Silver Bullet" one and his "COSA" thingy he seems to be doing exactly "voodoo science".

The guy is such disrespectful with physics theorists and is so full of crap its annoying.

Interesting reading though. Who knows? Maybe he turns out to be right in some topics. I was looking through one of his posts on Slashdot, on a topic about search for ET lifeforms where he says "Look at it this way: The singularity already happened and the visible universe is the result". Somehow, reminded of the Matrix... :)

How many things from the past seemed implausible and turned out to be truth? Galileu, anyone? Obviously, the difference is that real scientists do prove the correctness of their arguments via mathematical proofs, while Mr. Savain seemingly doesn't like, or is afraid of, math.

Bark at the moon

There Is a Silver Bullet After All The brains of humans and animals are the existence proof that there is a silver bullet.

I think this is a grave misunderstanding of what Brooks was talking about.

The "Silver Bullet" that is asserted to not exist is the one that will make it EASY or AUTOMATIC to translate requirements into software. Brooks is saying that there is no substition for skill, technique and hard work when it comes to software development.

Whether or not Savain has a brain, or bays at the moon, has no bearing on this problem.

Just what we need...

...computers which take billions and billions of operations to add two numbers, and then only with so-so accuracy.

If I wanted a person, I'd just have a kid. (Well, I already did that, and he is *quite* robust.)

The whole idea of the computer is to do what *no* human brain could do! Determining the stresses of an airplane wing in certain conditions... this *requires* algorithms.

Sure we make mistakes, but the things that we do are so complex, especially the little things that we are oblivious to, that our mistakes pale in comparison to our successes.

That's great, but we don't want that kind of complexity from computers. We want speed and accuracy. Thinking a bridge will hold up to 150mph wind does not make it so. "But that computer finds its way around the city so well, and picks up girls along the way! It's so robust!"

Computer tasks and human tasks are different. They are dumb where we are smart specifically so they can be smart where we are dumb. If you toss this out, why not just have a kid instead? (They're much, much cuter, too.)

Neat idea, but this is a (poor) analogy taken too far.