Sanding our assholes with 150 grit. Slowly. Lovingly.

A v-chip for computation

Do you guys think that with a stack-based virtual machine like the JVM or CLR it is possible to develop extensions so that it can't compute "bad things"? Like terrorists can't send a email with the flaggable words like "bomb" and "<country of interest>". It struck me as a bit impossible since a chip can do so level of predictative branching, but it doesn't READ what you write, and it certainly doesn't have enough time to process every bit of string that goes through it and have it look up a hash table every single cycle. And it would only work for strings, not images containing threats or plans of threats. It definitely won't work against one-time pads. However there are probably rooms for research that can prevent some sorts of work. For example scanners can be prevented from scanning printed currencies, or printers from printing fake bills, surely something can be done to a processor. There are perhaps processor architectures in the wild that is more condusive to this aim than others. What do you guys think?
Permalink Li-fan Chen 
March 11th, 2005
How do you define "bad things"? For printers, it's pretty obvious that money = bad.
Permalink Almost Anonymous 
March 12th, 2005
Any device that is programmed not to do "bad things" will at some time refuse to do a vitally important and critical "good" thing just when you need it to.

No, no, no, no, no, and a billion times no!!!
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 12th, 2005
I think that's 99% of the problem. I don't think a machine can do it, let alone a human. What has work is limiting access to bombs that kill or printers that can print money, however, the problem has always being that you can buy anything from anyone now days.
Permalink Li-fan Chen 
March 12th, 2005
Well Ian, what about devices that has a bias towards making "good things" easy?
Permalink Li-fan Chen 
March 12th, 2005
A million times no to that too.

I have a car that keeps pressing the brake pedal harder and longer than my foot because it doesn't believe I am stopping quickly enough. There is a lingering place in hell reserved for the idiot who thought that was a good idea.
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 12th, 2005
You want to program morality into something that does little more than this all day long:

1 + 1 = 2

You can program a car not to speed for more than a few minutes for passing, or to brake smarter, but the chip doesn't know what it's doing beyond:

65 - 60 = 5
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 12th, 2005
Who decides what is "good" and what is "not good"?
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 12th, 2005
Just look at the problems with web censor proxies - no end of "false positives."

I heard a rumor (probably apocryphal) that some school invested a LOT of money in censorware only to find they couldn't hit the library home page (Beaver College)

Philo
Permalink Philo 
March 12th, 2005
Beaver College, huh? I'd love to go there. Good one, Philo.
Permalink AllanL5 
March 12th, 2005
Uh, you *do* know there used to be a Beaver College, right?

http://www.beaver.edu/

They alleged that they changed their name to be "more 21st century-sounding" but apparently they were honestly tired of the jokes and being blocked by blocking software (hint: where would most prospective applicants be surfing from?)

However, after posting that, I remembered that it wasn't Beaver College that had the embarrassing unveiling. It was the library at Bakersfield College:
http://www.bc.cc.ca.us/library/

Philo
Permalink Philo 
March 12th, 2005
In the Netherlands we have two Catholic Universities.

The one in Nijmegen is called KUN (Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen).
Let's translate that in English as CUNN (Catholic University in the Netherlands city of Nijmegen).

There was a Catholic school in the city of Tilburg that got promoted to University.
The logical name would be ....

But nah, they changed it to something related to the province they were in, which is Brabant, so it became KUB.

Cowards...
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
March 13th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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