wintermute-psych team mailing list archive
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Appliance Computing and Brittleness.
I forsee an issue on the horizon, and lo, it is brittleness.
Any AI system is 'brittle'; it only works well within the confines of a
specific environment. Throw it something it was not designed to handle, and
it'll act oddly. The textbook case being that of giving a medical diagnostic
system the details of a broken car; for a leaking fuel tank, it'll
diagnose tuberculosis. You see?
Wintermute's environment will encompass the user's digital life. Websites,
media, phones, laptops, netbooks, wired/wireless networks, pictures, music,
movies, documents, etc etc etc. It must be equipped to handle all of these
files. It must also be equipped to handle the information about these files
and be able to make sense of commands related to these files and the rest of
The only real, practical way to do that, is to follow a methodology called
'Appliance Computing'. Right now, a computer holds a special place in most
folk's minds; it's a magic box which goes wrong sometimes (in essence).
Nevermind the numerous tools it has, nevermind the fact that it is truly a
tool of multiple uses. It is complicated, and Wintermute must make sense of
this complication in order to operate. It must be fully integrated with a
web browser. It must be kept aware of downloads and uploads, it must be kept
aware at all times.
This will mean we will have to lock down certain aspects of the OS; a web
browser will have to be fully integrated into the system for Wintermute to
function; this means from a development standpoint, we must get rid of the
'pick and choose' ability of programs. A full Wintermute system could not
have web-browser XYZ on it, for instance, unless we could ensure we had good
enough integration for it. To see the result of spreading our development so
thinly, you simply need to think in terms of quantity vs. quality. We can
either do a very good job, ensure the user experience is stable, safe and
fully intergrated, or we can spend our time trying to make sure every
program under the sun can be operated by Wintermute.
This does remove 'choice', I admit, but I see no other way to ensure
Wintermute can do the job.