Self Wright

Tag: computer science

A giant CS/Lisp rant

Read the whole piece here, here’s a flavor:

Why are we not out there to offer a real database system with Common Lisp datatypes instead of the tragic mess that SQL imposes on us in the C-based APIs out there (not to mention that XML calamity)? Why are we not out there building the next planning system for interstate highway updates?

Why are we not building publication solutions that would allow a reversal of the most hostile of all hostile intellectual activities undertaken by mankind in the past 40,000 years – the flooding of innocent people with senseless loads of marketing crap – and building the foundation for pull advertising?

Where the hell did the intelligent agents go, anyway? Where is the grammar- and synonym-sensitive search engine that finds matches for articles with words you did not think of? Where is the dumbing-down service that can take a precisely formulated and primarily correct technical or scientific article and turn it into a meaningful piece of information for the 1000-word-vocabularians? Where is the research on machine representation of contextgoing? Never mind the expert system that learns, I simply want an interface to an encyclopedia or specialized information database that expects me to remember what I read in some other article not all that long ago, so I do not need the full-blown version aimed at the relatively ignorant.

Where is the artificial intelligence that can actually take care of some of the things the human brain sucks at, like precision in its otherwise amazing memory? Where is the active suggestor, as opposed to the passive computer of what-if-scenarios? I want to let the network of company computers run what-if-I-had-thought-of-that-experiments and other Searches for Terrestial Intelligence instead of wasting computrons on SETI. What if people were not so goddamn scared of machine intelligence higher than their own that they would keep computers as stupid as can be? Where are the people working on the future?

Where are the futurists that do the interesting stuff that will hit us all around the next bend? I mean, to hell with some practical extraction and reporting language, I want real progress, and I want it before I go mad with rage over the wastes of human ingenuity, such as it is, that goes into writing yet another spyware “app” for Windows so yet another retard can send his obnoxious, insulting advertising to people who explicitly do not want that kind of information? For that matter, where is the spam filter that does the job of the intelligent, conscientious receptionist I can no longer afford because of the supposed labor-saving office automation that makes an ordinary business letter cost 20 times what it did in 1965 (adjusted for all important economic indicators)?

While I am at it – where is the real savings of the computer revolution? Who took all my money and gave me advertising for life insurance and Viagra?

Djikstra has reportedly said that “Computer Science is as much about computers as Astronomy is about telescopes”, and we can appreciate that in terms of our discipline being much more than just hardware and implementations! but we cannot deny the computer any more than astronomers can deny their telescopes.

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