Fare's response on threads

Lynn H. Maxson lmaxson@pacbell.net
Sat, 16 Sep 2000 22:19:04 -0700 (PDT)

As the designated "moron" of these hallowed chambers it should 
surprise no one that at times I get confused.  In this instance it 
lies with Fare's response to Derek Verlee's inquiry about threads 
within Tunes.  Maybe the phrasing does me in.

I refer to the phrase in question, "...the system must learn to 
dynamically decide for itself; if you think some method is better 
than others in some cases, you may tell the system about it."  You 
see I don't know how any software system discussed here makes any 
decision in any manner except as it is told.  In short it is not 
an option: the system and what is does is not independent of the 
telling thereof.

I do not oppose evolving software-based automata into a sentient 
form.  I simply don't know how to do it, have never seen it done, 
and no one within this group has offered any operational means to 
achieve it.  I know I have question this interpretation of 
"reflexive" before and received assurances that it did not "cross 
the line" (from automata to sentient).

Unless someone believes that you can initiate an automata process 
and with the addition of a "little something" have it crossed the 
line from deterministic to free will (and I doubt anyone even with 
"dynamic expert system optimization ... through monitoring by a 
meta-system" has pulled this one off), any discussion of such a 
system in which the body of tellers appears separate quite frankly 
is false to fact.

Whether you have 100% monitoring or some less extensive sampling 
rate no reflection will occur by the automata on its own.  It 
cannot reflect that which we do not permit.  I may have missed it, 
but so far I have seen no example of software capable of producing 
higher-level abstractions on its own nor of finding reusable 
patterns of logical equivalent objects.  In short such software 
does not "understand" the instruction sequences it executes and 
certainly has no means on its own of constructing (and 
understanding) higher level constructs as we do with the language 
we use in describing such processes.

It is one thing to talk the talk.  It is quite another to walk the 
walk.  The trick lies in taking our talk to where it can walk.  No 
system, no software system ever written, does that trick without 
assistance, without deliberate instruction from the talkers.  That 
includes meta-systems, meta-objects, and meta-programming.  

"I was looking back to see if you were looking back to see if I 
was looking back to see if you were looking back at me" is a human 
activity.  No means except human means exists to transcribe it 
into software.  No software however cleverly written will ever 
"reflect" in any human sense of the verb.  It cannot "understand" 
what it is doing and without that understanding it cannot 
"reflect" on what it is doing.  Reflection however we instill it 
in software remains something of our doing with the software only 
providing the means.

Therefore I must protest any claim or inference that the "system" 
does anything on its own, dynamic or otherwise, without our 
determining it in every detail.  I don't believe that we serve the 
"lofty" goals of Tunes in treating software as if it were 
something of an independent third party, a peer of its 
progenitors.  Whatever it does it does because we told it to do 
so.  In every instance.