How To Build One Never Crash Machine
My instructor assigned me some articles to read and some videos to watch about computer ethics. One of the video is Kevin Kelly on the next 5000 days change of our web at EG 2007 Conference in Los Angeles, California.
At the beginning of Kelly’s speech, he said we will have only one machine exists in our world. All of personal devices, such as computer, cell phone, etc., are just the terminals of that machine. The machine is more reliable than we have ever met. It never crash. And I suddenly thought something other than his topic about a never crashing machine.
First, is such a machine able be built? As we known, computers are one of the most complex things in the world. Nobody can build even a cheapest personal computer nowadays himself, even Steve Woz. The reason is the present computers are so different than the computers in the Apple II days. An article named “What Is Computer Ethics?” by James H. Moor also discussed the complexity of computer programs. We know some easy part of a program is perfectly correct. But we can’t guarantee the whole program after we assembled each part. That issue of software can also be applied to hardware. Another idea about this is “there doesn’t exist a program without bug”. So we can simply suppose that we can’t build a 100% reliable machine.
So what our goal is to reduce the possibility of the machine crash as hard as we can. How?
You may think a lot of ordinary ideas such as use things like test-driven design, quality control, etc. I can tell you a story of Kai-fu Lee, a vice-president of Google.
According a book named “Follow the Wisdom — Chinese at Microsoft” by Ling Zhijun, when Kai-fu Lee invented a system that can recognize human’s voice and talk with people at Apple Computer in around early 1990s, he was invited to Good Morning America to show his work. That was a big chance to promote Apple’s brand. Kai-fu’s boss don’t want the presentation system crash during the show. So he asked Kai-fu the percentage that the system would be crash. Kai-fu answered 10%. The boss asked him if he can reduce the possibility. Kai-fu said yes.
The boss thought Kai-fu would use lot’s of ordinary ways to archive the goal. But Kai-fu used an unordinary way. His method was to use two system. When one system crashed, there was another one. The possibility of one system crash was 10%, and the possibility of two system crash was 10% * 10% = 1%.
We may get some insight from this story. What we want is to build a never crash machine. To achieve that goal is very difficult. So by Kai-fu’s idea, how about we just use two machine? For continuing reducing the crash possibility, we simply increase the number of machine.
What amusing me is, Kevin Kelly’s goal is to reduce the machines in the world to one never crashed machine and we gain data from that machine; what we get is we increase the number of machine to achieve the goal. And that is like the Internet today. What if what we find followed Kevin Kelly’s road and finally get the result that the future machine is the present machine?
Are we coming to an antinomy?