Friday, December 31, 2010

We're gone

We're done and gone.

Belaboring the obvious loses its appeal, after awhile. So, we'll bid goodbye to Here we go, again and 2010. Not that some comment might not appear, now and then, particular to that subject (actually, probably more in praise than not).

There are many other themes to follow, such as how concerns about proofs lead to testing. But, that discussion has more of a focus on the cyber than on the physical. For real things, we have a shake out period (ought to), yet even during a long production run, there needs to be sampling to see if the process has not gone awry.

Other themes:
  • What is the 'truth' behind business?
  • Did King Alan really let off-the-books operations become the vogue despite the smell?
  • Business cannot be all wrong (even with that pervasive notion of jungle as the metaphor). Can the effects of this notion be enumerated?

07/15/2013 -- A fire late last week bring an opportunity to see what goes into determining whether to do composite repair or to undergo a section replacement.

04/07/2012 -- Flightblogger ends, as least, Jon's watch. Some issues raised five years ago are still apropos. The context may have changed a little, yet, perhaps now is time to re-address the themes which are beyond aviation, only one of a whole bunch of domains.

05/28/2011 -- Lemons problem, dark pools, ... Oh, so much to look at!

04/19/2011 -- Still gone.

02/03/2011 -- This is a place holder, for now, for Lewis' article. The Irish people (where is the rage?) were screwed over even more than the Americans. Now, one could argue oops; but, the truth is that certain minds need much more restraint than they are willing to admit. Unfortunately, other people bear the effects of these idiots (who, by the way, may, in many cases, test well - too bad there is not an effective arse test).

01/06/2011 -- I'm not back, but I have to make some comment on the fact that Jim M was in the group of those who have the gall to tell us, via our representatives, what we ought to do for them. Sheesh. I'll quit, now, before I start to re-look at the faults with this camp of people. Who is perfect? Well, a lot of us do not go about making unreasonable demands upon those who are providing a big part of our paycheck (yes, the taxpayers).

01/01/2011 -- We have four last posts of December under our belt.

01/01/2011 -- When one introduces a sensor in a control sense, that piece of information becomes part of what makes a system work. That is, even if the information is only sampled, it is not ignored.

Modified 07/15/2013

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Here we go again, III

The lessons that can be learned from 2010 are many and wide. As one would expect, the list from 2008 seemed to mostly be about finance (and fiction). Now, we can broaden the view.

Just now, I was looking at some Wikipedia pages on biochemistry, in particular on chirality (note the uses). We would see this as handedness. Well, it seemed that it might be fun to use an analog of optical resolution as an overlay while looking at project (program) management problems. After all, has not this blog berated mis-use of mathematics (Effectiveness, Abstraction, and Computational)? As well, has not the concept of underdetermined come to fore, now and again? But, a new wrinkle, brought on by computation is visualization and the whole notion that some ephemeral digital state is similar enough to the natural (God made?) state to which (or for which) it's being proposed as equivalent (only in certain types of world views) for us to make decisions that are sound.

A white paper asked: Do Sensors "Outresolve" Lenses? Just how does (can) this be applied?

Well, some comments to blogs, such as to the flightblogger, suggest that the 787 program assumed too much of something and allowed things to get out of control by not watching closely. Say what? We'll get to that. Too, from our long experiences with those in power we know this, hubris colors their thinking more than does reality. Except, where that reality has to do with the size of their pockets. How did this come to be? And, does not a good general (military) know that he/she has to get out with the troops to know the truth?

Sensors are an analog for getting information. In any decision, and control, context, one needs feedback. That is, take the driving scandals that were running amok last year, at this time. As mentioned in regard to that, the key discipline would involve cyber-physical studies; as well, sensors become of real epistemological concern.

When a program doesn't have sufficient information, things can go awry. And, bodies may be required. Boeing found that it had to send armies of people out to help determine what was what. Was there some errant notion that computational frameworks could replace expert eye sight and observation?

What about lenses? Well, some of these would be related to sensors. Take eyes and their owner: would not rose-colored glasses influence attempts at accurate reporting? As well, consider that which is between the ears. Are those of the supposed highest order any more than those who have risen far beyond their level of capability (as the adage says)? Of course, we may add another, at some point, to the sensor and lens category, namely the filter.

But, let's stay with those two, for now. Notice in the white paper that mathematics comes into play for both sensors and the lenses. And, it is done in a non-trivial manner. In fact, a lot of the computation requires high-powered artifacts; that is, the class of computation that has been enabled by modern techniques is growing daily and is far out pacing any human parallel.

Except, we do know that people rise for more than their power-holding abilities; insight, to be discussed further, is important. But, that type of knowledge cannot be taught; one problem with science/engineering, it'll be shown, is that the educated intuition was thwarted long ago by certain types of preening intellectualism. That topic is big-T truth, of course,


06/28/2011 -- Have succeeded in getting this far with coming back. Engineering has KBE to keep it honest.

01/01/2011 -- This theme? We're done. Engineering is a shining example of human effort. Finance? Ah, cannot be said by a civilized tongue!

Modified: 06/28/2011

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Here we go again, II

So, now we're hearing some tales, out of school, by Jon at flightblogger. Out of school? Yes, he is quoting anonymous sources at Boeing. Those who know that they ought not talk, yet do. Not real whistle blowers, as that would require them to come out into the light.

Well, before continuing here, the content of Here we go again still apply. What is necessary is an update. That will take some time, but we can look at a couple of issues, for now.

Firstly, from the beginning, I wondered about the leaks (the recent clamor in relation to WikiLeaks is very much apropos to the discussion) that Jon used. Were they ringers? How did he get such good pictures that would obviously belong to Boeing smuggled out? So many questions relate to that theme.

Along the same vein, there is the whole issue of how a company can manipulate information in order to influence investors. Of course, the legal positions on the subject continue to flux, yet that we're dealing with a near-zero game (which could be seen as patently illegal in other contexts) seems to never take any appreciable awareness in our collective minds. Many comments to Jon's blog posts have wondered about this.

Secondly, a grand and world-wide system is hugely appealing. But, it is so for different reasons for different folks. We can enumerate but will defer that to a later date. Let's look at three of those folks, for now. 1) We have the engineers and others who can do. Yes, the WWW (thanks to DOD for letting this little genie out of the bottle - I'm still amazed that we let loose that US taxpayer funded technology for the idiots to exploit) portends a whole lot of things that even scifi hasn't fully described. However, the old issue of map-territory (plus, being seduced by the allure of the abstract; the so intriguing notions related to computational ubiquity (to the limit of the universal computing device - why else the wizardry related to mathematics?); and a whole lot more). More power (pun, for the IEEE folks) to these pioneers, from whom has arisen all the marvels around us.

2) We have poor people who would like to better their situation. Unfortunately, for more than is necessary, many get trapped into unconscionable exploitation by the next group. Imagine: being tied into something so atrociously bad that is related to Apple (sheesh, Steve) and its new products, that one kills oneself (the solution was to wire, and make inaccessible, the jump points?). We'll be going into discussing the people, and not from a classist view either, at large.

3) Now, for the real as***es of the world. Yes, the best and brightest. Now, these types (can't live without them) are in 787 program, to boot; we'll not name names. They want to out-house (no apologies needed for the use) in order to exploit group number 2 while putting it to group number 1 who have been a pain in their rears. Yes. Just look at Wichita. Harry (yes, guy, I have your number) wanted it gone since the workers dared to boo him at a meeting where he and lil Jefe offered pop (as in soda - oh yes, it was iced) and the opportunity for them to tell the workers why they didn't need the union. This is another story to tell. Basically, when the opportunity arose, black-booted thuggery was let loose for several months that terrorized a whole bunch of workers. One has to wonder what would be the state of the program if Wichita was till within the folds of the company.

But, that's minor. Who the heck cares about a little city in the middle of the US? What is more of a concern is that there were many good talkers, using all sorts of lures, who pulled sane people into an untenable position that was more risky than not. But, hey, did we not just see the financial folks do the same thing? Despite recent mania (read Dow, et al -- on the backs of the savers, thanks Ben, big guy), there is more hurt than not (big bonuses for the fat cats does not cover up the crap).

What went wrong here? The plane did fly and for a long while. Now, ought there have been those pre-production crafts sitting there as if wishes were reality? Would one not think that the better method may have been to test the thing first and then work production? Cart before horse?


So much to look at. We'll continue to plod along. But, the basics need some attention: how do we know?, who the h*l tells the truth? (see Remarks, 'truth wears off' indeed), why CEOs? (as in, my ancestors did not come here, away from those arses, for me to have to continue the kissing mode), and much more.


07/15/2013 -- A fire late last week bring an opportunity to see what goes into determining whether to do composite repair or to undergo a section replacement.

03/11/2011 -- Wired asks, ought we care? About I-Phone suicides

.01/01/2011 -- This theme? We're done. Engineering is a shining example of human effort. Finance? Ah, cannot be said by a civilized tongue!

Modified: 07/15/2013

Friday, December 17, 2010

How do we know?

The question pertains to both the before and after of any situation. Several things are of concern here, such as believability, trust, and more.

Let's take the 'after' part first, as we have said before that we do not have 20-20 hindsight, in many cases, though our 'ex post facto' state may be wiser (not necessarily, to which any thoughtful human will attest). This New Yorker article ought to help understand some of the issues. The Atlantic had a similar one (Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science), recently.

Now, on the before side, it's not easy either. The qualification, frame, ramification triad and undecidability apply, for the most part.


Now, we have another thing to ponder, especially when putting our seats on an airplane. But, as with all things technical, worrying about some of these things is just too difficult. Full speed ahead (paraphrase, as the context also demanded to ignore the torpedoes).

But, is this not true: any successful, democratic society requires a knowledgeable populace? Of course, there is the issue that we cannot let paralysis come from analysis.


So, in this case, we'll look at the issues from several sides even though one player says that it's of no concern. Expect the discussion here to continue, in a supportive role, while the video is analyzed.


12/20/2010 -- Not only do we need to ask who tells the truth, we need consider what 'truth' might be. A recent New Yorker article is of essence: The truth wears off. The few sentences of the article says this: "Just because an idea is true doesn't mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn't mean that it's true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe". I might add, whom to believe. A similar article appeared earlier in The Atlantic.

Then, that same issue of the New Yorker has an article about the hypocritical mantras of 'free markets' that we're subjected to (Enter the dragon).

12/18/2010 -- On the finance side, Martin Weiss reminds us that Big Ben has grown the money supply by 1.2T the past couple of years. Then, he lowered the cost (interest) while giving bunches of money to the banks. These guys then loaned the money to us at a high rate of interest. And, pulled in the bucks. Of course, Ben had taken 1T of toxic assets off of their hand and put it on our backs. Finally, those jerks are getting paid big bonuses this year. We should have nationalized, yes, indeed.

Modified: 12/20/2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Knowledge and compilation

As mentioned last time, we need to continue to discuss what motivates this blog in a constructive manner. Three years ago, a post looked at 'oops, loops, and oops. To belabor the obvious (nod to the Devil's DP Dictionary description of computer science), let's look at these three and then point to literature.

Why the use of "Consideration of 'oops, loops, and oops (at times, poops)" in the label?
  • 'oops - ah yes, as in hoops, referring, of course, to the operationalistic nature of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for us and of things in general. That is, action is the orientation. How do you like your daily 'oops jumping?
  • loops - again, tomorrow is the future extension of today as was today for yesterday and so forth. Is it not that texting drivers take advantage of the fact that all of their faculties are not demanded to cope with driving tasks, in most situations, and then consciously direct part of their remaining facilities to a distracting element all the while assuming that they can swap back to full attention if such is needed? That whole idiocy is such a good example of the latent risks that can develop into problems that it'll continue to appear here. Now, is it not true, too, that they know this about driving because of the familiarity? Did I hear you say, loop?
  • oops - to err is human; to be stupid about risk is what? Yet, error is for us to manage (to wit, what we see with information theory). Actually, if we took an error-based view as the underlying framework, it would be very interesting indeed. Of course, that would be an operational ('oops and loops) stance, as you know.


We don't need to mention poops, except in passing. How many instances can you pull out of your memory of some adult behaving like the diapered set (not talking Depends)? The real irksomeness? That we are then expected to clean the crap for these people.


So, raising our sights, we need to look at what 'compiled' might mean to the subject. Those who are computer literate might see the metaphor's appeal. It actually goes deeper. Just consider this ACM biblio list of citations on one paper.

The mere fact that we can compile suggests a lot. Basically, learning is the key. And, do we not learn via loops (iteration, etc.)? Is it ever over (hubris says yes)?

Notice that the inverse of compiled is deep. That is, consider how the concept of 'analysis paralysis' came to be. As a species, without compilation, we would have all frozen into some type of catatonic-like state long ago. Fortunately, there are embedded circuits to rely on, plus we have techniques, such as filtering, that are both part of our apparatus collection and of our acquired knowledge.

What all of this means will require a parallel development on the truth engineering side. However, the problems are deeper than those suggested in The Black Swan. Yes, we mis-use Gauss' work as we do a myriad of other mathematical ideas. That is one thing to continue discussing since it allowed the best and brightest to lead many on perdition-laden paths.


01/01/2011 -- 'compilation' was, earlier, in the mind (called learning) and in our artifacts, such as written material. With the advent of the computer, the ways to compile knowledge increased dramatically. What did not increase, though, was an appreciation of the underlying faults of those types of artifacts. So, there will be an ongoing effort, in that regard, to bring this to the fore.

Modified: 08/24/2011

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oops types

So, we need to address this issue so that we can motivate solutions. That is, yes, the tone here will turn from taking potshots at oops and the oops'ers toward a more constructive bent.

We can talk three basic oops types, for now. There will be more which then will be categorized, analyzed, and smoothed (nod to the fact that underdetermination is the main thing, folks) out (we cannot remove wrinkles of many sorts).

So, for the first type, it would be a purely human affair, like the hubris we see with the CEO crowd (not all, just those with the biggest egos and pockets). But, there are other types. Is not the saying, to err is to be human? Does that not imply that none of us are without some fault and mangling ways?

In regard to that, the CEOs ask for their comeuppance several ways which we can discuss at length (but will not, given the new spirit). Trash talking gamers might be another category, but that brings in a whole set of other issues.

So, we have human error.

Then, for the second type, we have artifact oops, such as computer, or system, error. Mind you, system would imply products of all types. So, engineering has been working for eons on improvements. And, we see processes in place to help ensure better lives from use of the results. Some of this is just plain common sense, yet a lot of it had to be mandated by government actions (thanks, CEOs - oops, there I go again -- the new spirit will eventually win out here, it is guaranteed - oops, again).

Many product makers think about safety and minimizing harm from failure. Those who think forwardly in computing are looking at what would be involved with error-correcting systems. Mind you, communications has worked on this for years, with various types of checks and fix ups. But, as we ascend the conceptual tree (and complicate contexts), it becomes more of a problem, especially since undecidability is at the core. There have been means proposed, discussed, and implemented throughout the years. In fact, default logic, for one, was motivated by these concerns.

So, those are two types of oops: the wetware type and the hardware type.

What then is the third type? Well, sci-fi aficionados will get a metaphor of the borg. What we have, folks, is that ubiquitous computing has permeated human affairs to the deepest level and across the board. And, the growth proceeds both in depth and in breadth. There is no sense in being alarmed, as this progress was an inevitable consequence of the enlightenment switch that was thrown a few centuries ago.

It is that third type of oops that we'll focus on in 7oops7. Plenty harp on what others do wrongly, that seems to be a human trait. There is a saying about this that involves glass houses (find it, if you must). Many suffer from hardware (all types) failures. What is problematic there is that many providers of these things like to blame oops type 1; it's called user error.

Now, to be complete, we need to mention software. You see, with computation, even hardware can be parameterized. So, we will place software oops into the type 2, as then oops type 2 would actually be any type of system error.

So, we will look at oops of this third type, yet that we can differentiate between oops type 2 and oops type 3 is not always easy (here we need to link to discussion of cyber-physical issues). Come to think of it, what we might think of as oops type 1 could very well have some oops type 3 in it (that is, someone (CEO) takes a stance based upon they're told by a techie who is off the mark).

The main thing to remember is that oops type 3 deals with humans dealing with systems. This can range from comic (Chaplin's guy) to tragic (too many, and too depressing, to itemize). These types are going to become more of a concern (already were, but now cannot be ignored) as we proceed with the 21st century.

Aside 1: That examples of oops type 3 will be heavily computationally flavored is only the result of the growing ubiquity. In many cases, we might discuss things that are mechanical or other.

Aside 2: it might be fun to look at what the human-machine interface people have defined over the years in terms of oops, such as usability.


01/15/2012 -- Two oops are of interest here. One deal with a product, namely one of these types handled by Sealy. Now, another was related to computing, namely mad-house rush, on the web, to be first in line to receive something (Dr Oz). We saw mayhem this past fall in situations where people had to fight to get one of a limited number of goods (black friday). So, is that the point, the settos? If so, tsk?

02/03/2011 -- This is a place holder, for now, for Lewis' article. The Irish people (where is the rage?) were screwed over even more than the Americans. Now, one could argue oops; but, the truth is that certain minds need much more restraint than they are willing to admit. Unfortunately, other people bear the effects of these idiots (who, by the way, may, in many cases, test well - too bad there is not an effective arse test).

12/14/2010 -- One necessary topic will be compiled knowledge.

Modified: 01/15/2012

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

As if by ...

... magic. Yes, technical people laugh about this. What management does is put things together (resources), mix them, and then expect some output of note. As if by magic, essentially.

Why? They do not appreciate that it's good people (who are not just a resource, you fat cats) who make things happen. And, leaning on them to do the impossible can only go so far, you top-down thinkers who believe that you're John Galt [], or something similar.

This type of fat-cat creep-ness screwed up the financial world. We would expect those dealing with matter to be above this crappy game.

Does Jim M. (who?, figure it out) seem to be like that? Now he's saying that that the production projection line will be shallower and longer than he said before. Say what, guy? Any reasonable person knew that years ago; you're just now admitting the reality.

Oh, I know. You guys went off to South Carolina in a union busting mode. That was going to work? Like magic?

That last successful program, identified with the triple numbers, was the culmination of a long string of work. It was within the same milieu (product, design, and process spaces), you see. That is, as one works issues within some domain, one gets better. Yet, any relaxing of basic ASSumptions can perturb such as to cause divergences that are not pleasant. Good people scramble to put things back in order. And, do so (that's why they get good pay - not to your level, though, Jim M (and your ilk)).

By the way, some do appear to work magic. That is, from the outside it seems so. Yet, on analysis, there is a basis of solid knowledge, good methods, constrained expectations, practical sense, etc. I'm not talking the sleight of hand, Jim M. That cannot fly.

The new thing (project rolled out as an empty potemkin liner back in 2007) threw caution to the wind, relaxed along all axes of decision, brought in the unknowable by out-housing, listened too much to the modelers who said that the computational framework was (would be) wonderfully effective, allowed the risk guys to run rampant with their little fantasy (yes, you all know who you are - your numeracy led us to (and led us along) perdition laden paths), and so forth. It is a litany too long to even consider here, right now.

You see, Jim M, you would do more service to the world to learn about undecidability and how it applies even to how we handle matter than to keep your coif out of the wind, preen for the cameras, bask in your tub of money, calmly talk to the Street (Wall more than Main - yes?) as if you know what's up (did you not say things in that forum before and then have an announcement within days that would have some wondering how can this be? talk but not walk the talk?) or whatever it is that you top-level guys do (as you think of yourselves as kings of the rest of us).

We can use linear logic, and its extensions, to help the world learn the proper lesson. It has to come from the engineering camp. Jim M, you are running what was once a top-notch engineering firm that produced highly-engineered products. You came in the clean up the ethics. How did you actually help the problem-ridden program?


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

Modified: 01/17/2013

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Finance and pay

Well, it's bonus time, again, on the Street. Yes, as in Wall, not Main.

Oh, the argument goes. If we don't pay the best and brightest, they'll go elsewhere.

Let me categorically say, as I've said before, what these types have wrought is not necessary. We can stop the whole futures market, for instance, and start over with something better.

Why? We need to shore up the utility aspect of banks, that is the plumbing. All else is speculative and necessary only to those who want to suck money from the pockets of the hapless into their own. It's called near-zero, folks.

But, Congress had a chance with the last downturn. Politics, and the power of big bucks - as in banks arguing for their bonuses, got in the way.

Will there be another chance, ever? Perhaps after a few more bubbles, but I'm too old to see that. Right now, I'll continue to argue the concept of 'simple living' as needed by those who touch money and control the flow.

Guess what? Big Ben almost makes it; but, his current digs are palatial. I'm sure that it'll grow on him like it did King Alan.

It is still the fact that the basis used by the best and brightest to demand their bucks is a house of cards. That computers are at the core will become problematic probably sooner than later.

Who will suffer this next time?


04/01/2011 -- The last man wants the old days back.

02/03/2011 -- This is a place holder, for now, for Lewis' article. The Irish people (where is the rage?) were screwed over even more than the Americans. Now, one could argue oops; but, the truth is that certain minds need much more restraint than they are willing to admit. Unfortunately, other people bear the effects of these idiots (who, by the way, may, in many cases, test well - too bad there is not an effective arse test).

12/05/2010 -- Raj Patel has the proper grasp on the 'financial madness' that is threatening us.

12/02/2010 -- Banking is a utility (but we also need plumbers - a few, not an army).

11/30/2010 -- Best and brightest, yeah!

Modified: 04/01/2011

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Product safety

A new connotation can be made about this concept given the event of last week (trial explosives found in cargo shipments).

The cost of safely moving products? Was this even considered in full or did the model assume an ideal, and unrealistic, situation?

Is this not an oops or what?

Does not making it at home (not out-housing) become more feasible when the true costs are considered? As with any abstracted model, the 'pure' theory of international trade does not take into account any human quality. No, people are modeled as rational agents. Now, that's fine, except whose rationality is taken to be the model?

Sheesh, everyone papered over with some type of mediocre view. Is this not how business runs? Is it not why employees are considered just a resource pool only there for exploitation?

Oh, yes, the one star? The CEO, of course.

'market' ideology is like any other that makes a bunch of assumptions that match up with the belief system. Again, whose belief system?

What we need is a mindset that considers all aspects, albeit with rankings and risk analysis. Actually, the basis would be science and engineering. But, a heavy emphasis on people would be part of the system, to boot.

Now, how to attain such is the problem that will continue to be the focus.


11/08/2010 -- A technical look is necessary.

Modified: 11/08/2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The market

In the area where I live, the Republican candidate for one position persists in using the phrase 'the market' which grates on my sensibility.

Why? What the hell is 'the market' to which he, and many others, refer? The ca-pital-sino that we see everyday?

Actually, if I step back a bit, I can see that many who argue for capitalism are also believers. Or, that is their claim. One has to wonder what they believe given that their actions are many times counter to the 'spirit' of Christ (assuming Christian leanings, we're talking US of A, okay?).

Now, if they would say that we have Capitalism by Revelation, then we could talk about how this came about. That, of course, would lift Adam Smith to the level of a Prophet. Gosh, he's rolling in his grave about now.

If we don't have capitalism from a prophet, from whence do we have that which Adam used 'invisible hand' to describe as he tried to explain some phenomenon via metaphor? Do these modern folks really think that Adam, whose work was about 400 years ago, can be used now given all that we've learned?

That is, Adam as an example of his time is okay. Adam as chief revealer of economic truth is not.

Some gloat that 'the market' is more efficient than other means. Yet, from whence will they show proof for their position (beyond offering those who exploited the system to the state of fat cast at the detriment of the many?)? Some use suspicious means to model what might be called a market, we think that we can show. The approach has to be constructive. The first 'revelation' is that there is no 'the market' despite all the mania that we see daily.

Yet, there is a systematic way that we could provide a just economy. But, it would take more work (not labor, that's a role) that many may want to offer.

Of course, all this economic flimflam accompanies oodles of oops.


10/26/2010 -- Adam knew the failings of 'free markets' quite well.

10/14/2010 -- Capitalism, as known now, requires an endless supply of suckers.

Modified: 10/26/2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Facebook, as metaphor

Metaphor of what? Well, The New Yorker had an article on Mr. Z which was a great read. Since he does represent the epitome of the generation (and just not because of his wealth), his thoughts are of interest.

You see, the ubiquitous nature of computing was seen before [now], by some of us [who were looking at the future of computing]. Yet, insights due to being immersed already in the technology from day one [as in, from youth] are not what the older wave [as in, those who paved the way] sees. Mind you, not talking age, as even 30-year olds are not privy [to whatever appeals to incessant enthrallment with the glowing tube -- err, screen].


The generation gap is real [always was]. But, would it not be nice for the younger set to, at least, acknowledge [each new generation rests upon its own foundation] that what they were immersed in was the result of the work of many [Newton's comment applies, shoulders of giants]? It [anything that appears to be a basis for progress] was not just something that emerged by itself (oh yes, that is the prevalent ontology of the best-and-brightest, some, that is [some, meaning, of course, secular reasonists], that we're just something that 'emerged' from nowhere [to wit, Krauss,et al] (albeit over a long period of time and during completely random events [oh, I know, only partly random]) -- so why wouldn't the kids pick up on that [mis-use of Markov, to boot]). Rather, people, of talent, somewhat like the Mr. Zs of the time, worked with what they had to improve matters.


So, of what is Facebook going to be a metaphor? Well, whatever it is that is pulling attention to those little boxes [existential smashing of the spirit, probably worse than altering the mind with excessive mineral, or herbal, intake] such that people [dumbing themselves down]  run around like zombies mindless of their rude intrusions [physical presence talking, looking middle distance, close to the personal space -- overbearing, to the max] on the peaceful lives of those [what happened to civility?] who are unlucky enough to be in their presence [luck of the draw, more now of these than ever].

You see, Ford and GM are bringing Facebook to the auto experience [or so we hear]. Mind you, how much attention will the driving responsibility get [we already know about this from ample evidence via the texters who cannot put aside that part of their brain -- for even a moment]? Of course, they could also put into place the heads-up technology so that there can be some attention paid to the people (walkers) or other cars who might be in the way.


Or, there would need to be more real-time warnings. Imagine this: driving down the road, engaged in Facebook (or some ilk of a similar nature) with a small screen showing what lies ahead (of course, one could glance out the windshield from time to time, if one chose - but, hey, the legal profession just might make it a crime to be in the area of a moving car (as a pedestrian) thereby increasing the probability of an accident -- that is, blame the victim-ness). And, don't you think that the screen would have to be real-time and not propagated through the delays of the internet and its servers?

This could work with heads-up, assuming proper training, sensors, and the like. But, how long would it take, and how many lives, to shake out the bugs [FB, et al, push out for real tests, it's atrocious that the populace gets to guinea-pig new products (as in, shunted test periods in order to rush to market)]?


Mr. Z sees Facebook as a new layer (as in the context of strata) that is everywhere and always present. Does this sound like a possible modification to the communications model (orthogonal dimension - spirituality? - jest, in part [not really, see 01/05/11 Remarks, below])?

But, he is right that such will come about (Facebook? Mr. Z, consider that as a vanguard, it would not be your thing [new technology is always on the way]). Except, we don't know what this might look like, the rules of the road (etiquette), affects on ourselves (neuropeptidergically) [our bio selves], and much more.


We ought to be considering these things with the public (various domains already have an interest - including those of the nefarious intents).

Having Facebook (and, thank you, Mr. Z, et al) as the thing to look at in this regard is apropos to the time and the technology. Given the theme of this blog, 'what oops lurk?' (mind you, Facebook has already face'd a few of these) is of interest. Are they boundless (yes, Mr. Z's quote from classical literature)?


By the way, in another context, the question is asked, about unbounded domains and those who seek such (or what the new royalty thinks is without limit): how many royal pabodies are we expected to kiss?

Actually, there are more metaphors which we'll be getting into from time to time, thanks to the growing presence of Facebook.


04/09/2015 -- We need to get back to the metaphor issue.

11/03/2014 -- Really need to raise this topic back to fore. The viewpoint is from many decades of computing, even more in dealing with "smart" humans, and even more in analyzing systems (their good and bad points). The 80s.

10/08/2014 -- Many, many metaphors.

10/04/2012 -- 1B users, give or take. Too, a re-look.

08/04/2012 -- So, the market pushers say that they need things like program trading, and whole bunch of other stuff that we'll get to. So, the idea is that we need computer-based 'gaming' in order to discover 'price' and to provide liquidity. Liquidity? Yes, like that put into the pockets of Zuck (see 7 points on FB) and his ilk after the IPO. You see, those who made money bailed when the price was high. It is estimated that if they sold now, the take would be 1/2. Notice that I didn't say return (for what? -- 'gains' obtained this way are near-zero. Whose to cheer that a few make some massive amount of bucks (well, beyond those personally involved -- even the bankers who put deals together)? This type of thing is capitalism? If so, do we really need this, folks?

05/22/2012 -- Facebook, again.

05/18/2012 -- Thought for this IPO day, motivated by Borel, et al: forget a million monkeys, how about a zillion+ FB users? What would be the 'remarkable' output of such? Ah, I see? Infinite Monkey Theorem. We'll get back to this theme, later. Given my experience, several things seem to be missing (and, a large IPO does not fill in the gap, folks). For one, we won't converge toward a reasonable architecture (or a number of other properties that we've learned) by happenstance, nor can the hackers lead us to such.

05/15/2012 -- We'll have to get back to the discussion of this important subject. FB struck a nerve and attracted users. Given the market mania that'll be going on for awhile, we will have that sort of thing to look at closely (as in, within the current context of 'near zero' (remember, folks, 2000)). One analysis said that this company was found, and run, by coders. I'm one of those (coder, that is, for over 30 years, in advanced technology, so using modern techniques throughout the time -- by the way, over 50 languages, countless environments, non-trivial applications, and many types of platforms -- it's nice to see the 'app' architecture mature -- wait! wrong word, we're a long way from maturity). It's interesting how the FB milieu is such that they determine the requirements and push out at their will. On the other hand, we could look at serious computing issues where determining requirements, minimizing bad side-effects, and more are of utmost importance taking much time and effort (but, we'll get back to all that). Again, 'metaphor' for what? Not being cynical, I won't put things like dashed expectations, compromised personal information, or a number of other things that we read about. No. I'll leave that for others. FB (and whatever follows) is part of a long evolutionary chain going to where (need to switch to teleological matters, folks) we do not know (yet -- can we ever?).

03/15/2012 -- 'jewels' and computing.

02/04/2012 -- Edited content for readability and for unraveling some confounded-ness. Motivated by a recent read.

02/02/2012 -- FB's IPO. We need to update this in another post, and re-edit this a little for readability.

06/10/2011 -- USA Today reporting on the NHTSA comments on autos as smartphones.

02/27/2011 -- Rick Bookstaber's thoughts on Facebook.

01/10/2011 -- Many ways to connect -- Boston 1775: Because We Must All Be Connected All the Time: "Though I like a lot of people on Facebook, I still have no emotional connection to the service itself besides frequent puzzlement. In contra..."

01/05/2011 -- More than metaphor, actually the growing interest in Facebook depicts a whole bunch of things. However, one has to wonder who may rue what they have let themselves post in this newfound enthusiasm. In a sense, Facebook could be thought of as a limited model of the Akashic, albeit grossly, as there is a growing footprint (increasing set of permanence'd data -of varying degrees of frivolity and triviality) whose ultimate dimensions we can only wonder about. At what point will the thing (applies to the total collection from Internet activity) collapse?

11/18/2010 -- Philip's review of the movie and the comments are worth a read. Indeed, the smartest nerd does not make the most money (is that Perelman's lesson?).

10/29/2010 -- Zuckerberg's public page on Facebook. It's nice that he talks technical issues, somewhat. Initiatives, like Code for America, are interesting and of interest to this blog and truth engineering. This old coder (the oldest around?) wonders how these young guys can flip/flop after the latest technical upgrade without (or what appears to be without) due consideration of ramifications (to wit, backtracking due to criticism after the fact). My message to these young guys would be to allow that an older mind (such as mine) can very well participate and contribute to their progressions. How is it that each generation has, of late, thrown knowledge and caution to the wind and attempted to re-write the world? Oh, code is it?

Adage: the world is being screwed by coders running after money and fame without regard to the consequences of their twiddling ways. (Quants are one example; now, let's add web weebles)

10/26/2010 -- One way to know, the media.

10/15/2010 -- There is much more to Facebook than the rush of fame (beyond the 15 minutes) of having one's face (and activities and thoughts) observable by the world. It can help us learn how computational assistance can augment talents, thereby improving one's being, effectiveness, and much more. After all, capitalists are exploiting this, and us at the same time (to wit: the ca-pital-sino was enabled via computer, colonialism (out-housing) requires a world-wide communication scheme, -- the list is long, people). Let's give the suckers power to withstand the onslaughts of the sack'ers, at the same time, educating Big Ben.

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

09/26/2010 -- What was the number? 1/14? That is, taking the current Facebook registration over the world's population, you would show that a very large percentage have signed up. If you dropped those not of age (assuming an almost uniform distribution which isn't the case), you could say that 1/4 of those of rational leanings (again, the behavior of some begs this question) are using the social medium. That points to some type of basic metaphysics (which is where the action is going to be - as the web will enable all sorts of experiments and events that were not possible, nor imaginable, prior to now) in action.

09/21/2010 -- We won't be picking on Facebook, alone, as a whole bunch represent the accumulated notion. We're 15 years, give or take, from that early phenomenon, called Mosaic, and all sorts of things have happened (some good, some not go good). Having been in the technology, but neither immersed nor embedded, from the get-go, almost, what seems imperative for us to learn are the principles of 'truth engineering' (look it up), the first step being the discovery and clarification of these. Facebook can help there. Since it's new, its founder is young, and the strongest analog is that we, the humankind, are like adolescents in this regard (with all due respect to the heads-in-the-clouds, pure mathematicians, logicians, et al) - this is an evolutionary phenomenon and needs to be understood thusly.

Modified: 04/09/2015

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Decline and fall

Gosh, some (many?) Boeing engineers are probably sick at the status (Chicago Tribune) of the 747, and the 787. Guess what? Their bosses are probably clueless. Jim M, included.

Yes, farm out work (the proverbial throwing things over the wall) that you don't understand and hope that it'll pay (something for nothing - plus, magic is in the air).

We'll be getting into this with more depth. But, as a prolog, there are oodles of posts here berating the decline of capability, the wishfulness brought on by computation, and the whole notion that one can be successful while relaxing (idiocy to the max) along all axes in a problem solution search.

The world is screwed up. England became a financial center (of course, we know that there isn't much behind that whole notion - see Fedaerated - except movement from one pocket to another - generally, from the many to the few). Professor Wiener thinks that it's due to the aristocratic influence of: wanting something from nothing (get it from the peasants), not doing for self (oh, no way, that is what maids and servants are for), being mostly head-driven (classic cause of egoism and out-of-touchness - as with reality). Yes, we're talking about his thinking as published in 'English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit: 1850-1980'.

Some think that England needs to get back to its engineering glory of old. Yet, a lot of that left the old world (to wit, the influx over the pond), just to get away from the aristocratic mess (yes, some of that was brought to here - why else that CEOs (and other business leaders - political leaders, to boot) think that they're it?).

Actually, we had a generation of the best-and-brightest run after finance. And, what a mess? Thanks, Harvard, et al.

As said before, we need some type of Magna Carta for business. And, we need to run things with people who have taken a vow of simple living and ethics. Yes, indeed!!! We, and the earth, cannot abide these idiots (cartoon - Phila Daily News).

One cause is the ignorance of undecidability and its place, along with the requisite necessity for quasi-empirical views in our work.


08/01/2013 -- Ben cannot unwind or taper downhe has too many Doves. We'll have to get back to the king thing (yes, the divine rights of the CEO, new royalty, in other words) and dampening of these types by a new outlook (Magna-Carta'√≠sh).

10/07/2011 -- Magna Carta, the celebration thereof.

09/21/2010 -- Definitely, there are class divisions, in business. Such as the one who waits out the contract period, gets the contract signed (albeit after a rejection by the union members), and then lays out layoff plans that were known all along. Magna Carta needed, indeed.

Modified: 08/01/2013

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Must and May

One can argue that what we get with computation, if done right, is a good model for the world, our systems, their processes, and a whole bunch of other things. Then, this model can be used for analysis, for decisions, and learning. That last applies to the theme of this blog.

It is very easy for unsound modes to come into play with computation added as a resource, to wit product modeling as we've seen with the project motivated this blog and the accompanying mania about life cycle management's new expertise, called systems engineering.

You see, folks, if we're going to overlay computation on the world, then, we need to be aware that 'undecidability' is a stronger, and more prevalent, phenomenon than allowed by the 'can do' thrusts of engineering (and the associated business mind that wants something from nothing).

'must' and 'may' come into play. We'll be looking at a technical paper recently published by the ACM (Intro, Article) that shows what is necessary to statically analyze a program, that is a computer program. But, do we not use 'program' for labeling real world things, such as an 'airplane' program?

Let's be real. There are strong analogues between the cyber and physical (to wit, cyber-physical systems). So, we need to get a handle on the basic notions related to 'undecidability' for the sake of project success (that is, increasing the may) and for continued peaceful existence of that much beleaguer'd thing, called capitalism.

If we were truthful, we would see that 'must' is not frequently the case. As in, 'that' must follow from 'this' (except, tautologies are strong - yes, though trivial, this is a big set). Somehow, power (that is, top-down enforcement -- as opposed to the middle-out of engineering) seems to think that 'musts' are a larger set than what is real.

We'll be addressing this, too, from the truth engineering viewpoint, as the need for such endeavors arises from the main quandary that we face.

Systems engineering got to a state of hubris by thinking that it handles the 'may' in a strong fashion, it seems. Let's back up, folks, as they have no better way to handle undecidability than does any other discipline (it's somewhat amusing, as a few years ago, Scott Carson was going on about what we don't know - atta boy, who has 20-20 foresight (actually, who has this in hindsight?)?).

We can use the current state of, and the known (as in public) history of, one project to discussion the important issues, all in the name of progress.


09/27/2010 -- Capitalism is for the good of us, let's bring that forward.

Modified: 11/21/2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Our new masters

The title refers to the fact that the best-and-brightest, of the financial and business worlds, have led us down a path to perdition. How can we, and our leaders, extricate ourselves?

Or, how can be avoid that we're to be perpetual servants?

We need to thank the USA Today for the look at what has been put on us as a yoke by the best and brightest.

Pure idiocy. Gigantic oops.

And, in the name of computation and mathematics, both of which have been interlope'd (meaning, of course, they'll spawn a seemingly unending set of oops), wake up!

This comment on flightblogger is apropos, to boot.


09/14/2010 -- Must and may. Two important concepts.

07/25/2010 -- Yes, we have complex situations in the modern milieu. However, that we have undecidability as a strong factor needs to be better understood. That some would exploit, via pirating, these uncertain times for their own game needs to be addressed. That the game has been set up, thanks to all the best and brightest and their thoughts on economics, to allow such intense, and daily, energy to be put upon what is mostly a chimera suggests one things, folks: we need to get a handle on near-zero, its reality, and what that means for how we ought to manage economic affairs.

Modified 09/14/2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Apps and oops

The rage nowadays is 'apps' which is nice to see as it points to more being aware of computational ubiquity.

Unfortunately, apps, the concept, applies to commercial products, as well. Like cars, where we seem to be the on-going lab subjects. That is, until more is learned about how apps are firmed up (see apps and truth). There are many examples.


The US DOD has weakened itself by using Internet apps. First of all, the IP did not have to be let loose (there were plenty of other protocols). Then, the whole idiocy of loose control boggles the mind.


Would it not be nice to see more management 'apps' that remove the wetware which can be so problematic? Or, do we need to see these stars with their strutting demeanor?


Having been in computation, software and mathematics, since the 1960s, it's very interesting to see the evolution of new platforms. Sometimes, it does seem as if it's a new world (every generation would like to - and does - think so). Yet, it is not, folks.

Every platform may have differences in framework(s) and particulars, yet, the underlying issues are the same, have been from way before computing was possible (or, back when hand work was the norm - 10 years to do what now is done in a blink of an eye), and will continue. That we have to grapple with the basics is the lesson before us.

The emergence of 'apps' and the related mania provides the opportunity.


'oops' ought to be sandbox'd and limit'd. The economy is in a shambles because we allowed the best-and-brightest (encourage by the older fat cats) to push out apps that stunk from the beginning as if they were derived (pun) via deus ex machina. More likely, these were extractions from the nether regions (aerated, to boot).


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

07/02/2010 -- Stunned? Hubris or stupidity (or, are they the same?). Meaning what? Well, this is a simple little thing, of no real consequence. How many problems lurk amongst all of those computational elements that have been spread around the economic world? Who cares?

Modified: 09/28/2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Of course, we have to live with change. Things wear and need replacement (life cycle). Things become ineffective and need improvement.

As James Surowiecki reminds us, some innovative efforts have reaped many benefits (The New Yorker, 'Too clever by half?'). This technology, that is, the blog, is an example of an accumulation of a whole lot of progress. Were there missteps along the way (ACM is over 50 years old compared to the IEEE's 100)? Yes. Are MS Window crashes even countable?

Everything that is modern came from years of effort. Yet, is it always progress? That is, do we learn without failure (hopefully, with experimentation done under controlled conditions)?

And, if things are heavily model, and mathematical, in nature, then one expects that some type of verification step is involved. We don't expect to see drugs released without the appropriate scrutiny.

Yet, the marvels (in this sense, people) of finance have been allowed to experiment on the fly with our selves and our money.

Somehow, we have let those, who push their numeracy skills on the rest, to roam free of constraint, without requiring their due regard for reality (Quants, for example). Oh yes, the test (and measurement) was whether the efforts filled certain pockets.

Well, we have to get financial 'innovation' under control, somehow. Looking at a sandbox would a good start.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cat and mouse

People like to play games. Some would like us to believe that such is the reality behind all things, as the most basic motivation. Cat and mouse, indeed!

So, given the game context, then things of which GS is accused are between the 'big boys' who ought to be able to handle themselves. Oh, yes, the GS guy says; doesn't he know that 'trust' is not something that he, and his kind, raises in this blogger's view? The old Goldman guy is rolling around in his grave, as is Adam Smith.

Yet, in the role that we've allowed these people, many of the big boys step all over the little peoples' lives, since their decisions affect more than their little selves (used advisedly, as the 'big' is mainly a chimera).

So, what are we to do? Turns out that science itself doesn't help; even there, malfeasance can be documented. Usually, though, it's driven by the ego of some maniac (oh, CEOs aren't in that class?) and is not directly related to the grand approach itself.

But, ever heard of underdetermination?

This blog got started looking at a particular program and then branched into that realm of the idiots, called finance. In things belonging to the original focus, you see, the engineers were eventually allowed to take over from the marketing view. For the most part, engineers do know how to solve problems. Why 'for the most part' here? Ah, our engineering brains breed hubris, many more times than not.

But, to err is human. And, we could re-focus the 'risk' game to be more mature.

So, luxury goods as a goal? What if there were a law, as follows: those with the diamond-studded watches must eat their diamonds for nourishment. Silly? Yet, in effect, that a whole generation and one-half ran off after those financial schemes tells us a lot. Have you not looked at Forbes Luxury and wondered who needs some of these items that have a $100 function but a $1M price tag?

And there were young guys/gals directly involved with creating these instruments of destruction. You don't see that? What old guy fat cat could do the computer modeling and operations that were required for these tranche'ing, and other derivative's (yes, folks, what these so-called higher forms do is stink to their essence and make a sane/healthy person want to puke)? Even Made-off had his technical help.

That the essentials have been farmed out (out-housed) or pushed to a seemingly lower realm of humanity or considered of no value (yes, trash the earth, by all means) ought to be of our concern.

So, let's talk about letting finance be run by those who, first, don't salivate when they see a buck (can it be eaten?) and who, then, know the values behind 'on the behalf' of' in their core.

By the way, what we saw with the one program, mentioned earlier, was a bunch of guys realizing that they couldn't make a baby collectively in a couple of months. Metaphor, folks.

Can engineering learn 'ethics' and a more informed type of 'value' soon enough to not run us collectively into the crapper? Oh, wait. political truth needs to (and will) be added to the first principles list. Defenders of GS are touting political motives. That may be, in part, yet the Street (Wall, if you must ask) has not really shined, of late. Oh, did it ever?


01/17/2013 -- Removed reference to Rand's fictional character. For various reasons.

04/27/2010 -- To quote Tourre of GS: Well, what if we created a 'thing', which had no purpose, which is absolutely conceptual and highly theoretical and nobody knows how to price?

Value? Oh, I reply. I've been arguing all along for a quasi-empirical approach that would respect our prowess yet know that these complications are easily manipulated into a shell-game look-alike. How did we let this happen? Where were the economists?

Modified: 01/17/2013

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The cyber-physical

Silence, as seen recently as measured by a small number of posts, on the topics of this blog has no meaning other than evidence that a respite occurred. The world is changing in many ways such that one has to stop from time to time to observe the landscape.

Below, there are a few words on a new development in thinking about the types of problems of interest to advanced techniques. That some may have thought that a process, like designing and building some complicated system such as an airplane, could be a one-button affair driven by computational prowess will continue to have some attention. Of course, such types of thinking were not being done by the engineers who are responsible for success and safety.

That some may think of modeling, especially of the mathematical type, as being a replacement for natural processes, too, will require a re-look in order to know why 'quasi-empiricism' is not more prominently considered.

But, for now, let's look at developments under the guise of cyber-physical systems: the NSF's introductory statement, one interested party and a related blog.

Now, as an aside, we ought to know that the quasi-empirical stance is at the basis for these types of inquiries. Too, there are tighter couplings for us to note between the cyber and the physical that will be necessarily considered. Some of these issues will be discussed in future posts.


05/28/2011 -- The 'avatar' will be multi-faceted in use, not just play its current role of fancy icon with behavior.

12/17/2010 -- These types of issues are continually there for our resolution.

09/14/2010 -- Must and may. Two important concepts.

03/02/2010 -- Perhaps, misinformed might be used instead of misplaced. That the title uses 'faith' might suggest that what we have with human reactions to software, and computational modeling in general, is a belief-based system. But, then, is not science so, at its core?

Ah, arguable point, one might say. Yet, those who argue the importance of 'quasi-empirical' thinking might bear more attention. That is, if the underlying mathematics can be problematic, why would not that which is super-positioned there upon?

Too boot, the NSF description, in my mind, ignores a whole slew of issues related to problems of logic and problem solving. That is, for one example, 'undecidable' is not just a property of the infinite set. It has operational use.

What we see, in my opinion, is a reliance on various types of ad-hoc closures, some of which are learned since they are really at the essence of human intelligence. These need to be lifted out for inspection and management, perhaps even toward control.

One might suggest that the concepts related to 'truth engineering' are necessary for complicated systems, especially those that are heavily involved with human affairs.

By the way, the auto engineers are not guilty of sins any worse than those committed by the best-and-brightest who spawned toxic financial material on an unsuspecting populace (and their leaders) through their mis-use (interlopers, all) of quantitative techniques in a very un-insightful manner. At least, with the auto, we can be empirical, albeit more quasi than not.

Modified: 05/28/2011

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brain retrain

As mentioned before, people like forward progress. As any pedestrian will tell you, the zombie-driven car will proceed despite the walker's presence, many times not even making any acknowledgement of awareness. What did the guy say the other day after he stopped, red-faced, and apologized? 'I didn't see you.' As in, his attention was elsewhere.

Well, the opposite of forward is what? Well, it's jam on the brake for any event that might be problematic in order to 1) react normally, 2) allow time to get data that was being ignored, and 3) perhaps, prevent some nasty event. Yes, we see the rear end collisions all the time that are, in part, related to this need to 'stop the world now' (of course, nod to Bill Buckley).

Now, in the past, people locked up their brakes by doing this jamming. In many situations, there were undesired side-effects. So, people, the car companies gave you the anti-lock brake. It is a computer system that tries to prevent wheel lock, and skid, while effectively stopping the vehicle. So, your brake pedal becomes a switch, essentially. And, these systems have gotten better.

At the same time, systems started to support other functions. Now, we see that the accelerator was one of these (see Toyota's issues).

Yet, there was no re-training of the brain to account for system limitations. You see, there is no brake system that will respond like the old hydraulic type. Why? For it to do so, it would have to be in control and continually assessing the situation via sensors.

And, that means processing this data in a reasonable, and quick, manner. Not easily done, folks.

But, there is a lesson that we could learn. Leave space to allow reaction. Isn't that already on the list? Meaning, do not tailgate? Too, anticipate and give the computer some lead time. Oh wait! The whole idiocy of texting while driving, and the like, counter such a state as these activities negate any chance for being aware.

Accidents, and similar side effects, have not been sufficient for people to learn the necessary habits. Perhaps, knowing about system limitations would help. Why? It elevates the thing from choice matter (ah, those who love the freedom to trash other peoples' lives) to that more intellectual (the lesson ought to be within the grasp on any who gets behind the wheel).

Now, we have seen issues with acceleration and braking with modern vehicles that were supposedly perfect. Well, perfection cannot be attained. It's an operational issue and needs to be handled as such. Too, the possible problems are a growing set.

We need to make visible the system-related issues so that we can identify and teach the necessary attitudes and postures for safe, and effective, driving. That, of course, assumes that the manufactures, and their engineers, really keep themselves up on all the potential issues. Can we show that?

Ah, yes, value versus quality. Dumb! These are not reciprocal, folks.


01/22/2013 -- USA Today story on settlements. From three years ago, lest we forget.

02/08/2011 -- There was a report today concerning a study on the SUA problem that has been going on quietly. More news will be coming later when the report is technically analyzed.

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

04/19/2010 -- Genies, no not genius, indeed!

03/09/2010 -- Can of worms is what we've gotten from letting the genie out of the bottle.

02/10/2010 -- We could probably use the auto (and recent events) as a way to characterize the concepts of the blog. Of course, we have the value versus quality mis-think as part of the problem. Business Week reports that Toyota was asking suppliers for a 10% cut. Well, such scrimping would have an effect, even if it was only in looks. However, cutting into the life of a system may appear smart but, actually, relies on the same unstable basis as does a lot of economic thinking.

Modified: 01/22/2013

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Drive by wire

The car is a complex system now and becoming increasingly more so. Yet, we only teach people how to drive as if conditions are perfect. Then, problematic circumstances are only written about; actually, the whole notion is to allow errors (why else the huge amount of accidents?) and to use the adage of learning from the mistakes of others.

We need something better, folks.

Essentially, the Toyota problem that is behind the massive recall, and stoppage of sales, may boil down to 'drive by wire' (dbw) which is analogous to the 'fly by wire' (fbw) that we're seeing increasingly.

Now, there is nothing implicit in this post that is anti-progress, however certain burdens come with the forward steps. One of these is a mental adjustment. Nor is there any attempt at resolving the problem which Toyota is very capable of handling.

Aside: Some comments to the Business Week article mention problems and cover ups by other auto makers. Somehow, one does not expect that with Toyota.

So, we're talking a general notion here, folks.

You see, even with mechanical (and hydraulic) systems, there can be failures (that is why there is safety engineering and risk management). At the time of the failure, consequences can be terrible. But, we can easily study these and make adjustments. It's called learning. Too, the feedback to the driver, of the older systems, was more natural.

The fbw, and dbw, systems have contrived feedback. So, training, and the resulting mental re-adjustment, is in order.

In the case of fbw, the training is taken care of by reading, lecture, discussions, sophisticated simulators, and actual flying. But, even with all this, failures occur. And, we have not seen all of the consequences that can lurk with fbw.

In the case of dbw, there is no support for the driver. Of course, we have to ask, would drivers even pay attention to the message? You see, the idiocy of texting while driving is obvious, yet we have people doing that as if their weapon of destruction's potential to harm others, and themselves, is some type of right. Or worse, that it is indicative of being progressive, cool, intelligent, and some other delusions, when, in actuality, this mindset is of swampish creatures trying to fly.

So, what is the point? In the case of fbw, there is a lot put into studying, designing, and testing these systems. Fault handling is placed wherever it can be; yet, there are failure modes that cannot be handled and that are NOT known. Hopefully, the determination that these are only remotely possible will hold up.

But, the bdw systems are not so scrutinized. Is the public included in the design considerations? In fact, that the systems rely on a large set of sensors is problematic, as these need attention, too. In the case of fbw, there is regular inspection. In fact, some of these are under continual observation, or, at least, as close to continual as we can get. Remember, observers are systems, too, therefore subject to various failure modes.

In terms of the accelerator problem, it seemed a knee-jerk reaction, at the time, to name the floor mat as the chief culprit. Then, we heard that some type of material issue with the pedal itself was the likely cause.

Given that a full review is underway, we can hope that good lessons come from this. That is, Toyota has had a good name for years; in fact, western business has sort of genuflected to those wizards of the east (sometimes to nauseating extremes).

To be positive, rules ought to be described and defined. For example, if the engine thinks that it's going to runaway, the basic rule would be to shift to neutral and maneuver out of traffic. Except, if you're in the left lane and need to cross multiple lanes, other actions will be necessary.

Another? What if you're on ice and need engine power when you have this problem?

Now, it may also come from this that the auto industry will spend time making sure that their controls have overrides, redundancies, and what not to ensure against failure. Too, perhaps, they'll be a little more insightful about sensors and the consequences of their failure.

The model here is the afferent nervous system, and its sensors, which is quite complex. Yet, it has a number of failure modes. What we learn is to anticipate.

Now, why not teach driving in the same mode? Gosh, what did the DOT use yesterday? Responsible driving.

If we had taught the correct driving lessons, the mania of texting while driving would never have taken on the magnitude that we saw happen with the bad results which are upsetting.

Folks, dbw will be reality henceforth. Let's train for this.

Aside: As found throughout this blog, there is a reminder that we do not totally control nature through our models (abstract) and computation. And, one problem inherent with dbw is the computational requirement that is at the basis. And, listen folks, we're using systems, with their software in a black box, for the most part, everyday to put our lives at stake. Is that smart? Well, we ought to know more. So, again, no luddite argument need be casted. These questions are from one who has been in the industry for decades and who is definitely not cognitively limited with the biases that can be observed within the gaming generation (texting and driving, brilliant!).


01/22/2013 -- USA Today story on settlements. From three years ago, lest we forget.

02/08/2011 -- There was a report today concerning a study on the SUA problem that has been going on quietly. More news will be coming later when the report is technically analyzed.

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

04/19/2010 -- Genies, no not genius, indeed!

03/12/2010 -- Toyota's web site that is related to recalls.

03/09/2010 -- Can of worms is what we've gotten from letting the genie out of the bottle.

02/22/2010 -- Business Week uses 'drive-by-wire' in a recent article about computational driving.

02/09/2010 -- We need to retrain the driving brain. Where is there an auto user group?

02/08/2010 -- More expert opinion.

02/05/2010 -- Nader's opinion. Also, software and cars. And, what's the quality control? Note this from an expert's look,

02/01/2010 -- Experts on these types of things.

01/29/2010 -- Defense of Toyota.

01/29/2010 -- As said before, there is no reason to knock only Toyota in these regards (look at the long recall lists). The dbw discussion could just broaden to cover the fact that systems are more complicated and electrically boosted. Note today's Honda recall. There is no need to go through the long list of recalls except, perhaps, to categorize and count. The basis for continuing problem will be embedded logic as its prevalence can only increase due to technology. Who knows what we'll see with the hybrids and electric cares? That's the way it goes, folks, when we deal with our artificial servants.

And, using these little quirks of designed projects as an analogy for the large scope of economics is not far off base. All the gaming that we see financially has been computationally derived from mindsets that are both morally and ethically disadvantaged. Oh, these folks are brilliant and our best and brightest? Give us a break!

Modified: 01/22/2013