Tuesday, May 13, 2003

More from JvN

A couple of days ago I referred to a classic 1952 paper by John von Neumann, "Probabilistic Logics and the Synthesis of Reliable Organisms from Unreliable Components." Here's a great quote from it.

"Error is viewed, therefore, not as an extraneous and misdirected or misdirecting accident, but as an essential part of the process under consideration -- its importance in the synthesis of automata being fully comparable to that of the factor which is normally considered, the intended and correct logical structure."

This isn't all that different from the usual rap on commercial software--more concerned with functionality than reliability. What can we do, in technology, in method, in culture, in the market, to reverse the situation?