User: Password:
|
|
Subscribe / Log in / New account

Interview: Vernor Vinge

Interview: Vernor Vinge

Posted Dec 11, 2008 5:29 UTC (Thu) by jaldhar (guest, #7476)
Parent article: Interview: Vernor Vinge

The existence of a thriving Free Software movement will prevent a singularity by
ensuring that technical progress remains comprehensible.

Unless Free Software becomes incomprehensible but I predict the people of the
future will send a cyborg back in time to assassinate the members of the ISO C++
standards committee.


(Log in to post comments)

Interview: Vernor Vinge

Posted Dec 11, 2008 8:34 UTC (Thu) by ncm (subscriber, #165) [Link]

What, me?

If you're not happy with where C++ has got, why haven't you invented TGSC (The Glorious Successor to C++)? Not only is there no language making serious inroads in C++'s home domain of industrial programming, there is no language on the horizon that might someday evolve into a serious competitor. (Sorry, D, Erlang, and Haskell are not in the running.) This is not for lack of problems in C++; a language with a quarter the complexity but equal power would be no great feat, if only it gave up the C subset.

C is still the tractor-trailer truck of languages, and C++ the 747. Invent the suborbital transport, please!

Interview: Vernor Vinge

Posted Dec 11, 2008 12:06 UTC (Thu) by NRArnot (subscriber, #3033) [Link]

Python is the sub-orbital transport, and Python 3 a mark II thereof. ;-)

But in this analogical context, we're looking for the Starship with the FTL drive.

Language wars

Posted Dec 11, 2008 12:55 UTC (Thu) by ncm (subscriber, #165) [Link]

Sorry, but Python, in this context, is a motorcycle. It's more fun than a semi truck, and more versatile, but as handy as it is, Python does not now, and never will, carry industrial freight. Yes, a dirt bike could pull a trailer, but not well, and attaching a trailer misses the point of the dirt bike. Incidentally, Lisp is an ornithopter.

Getting back on topic, the interstellar transport might be a language designed to program (or coax?) arrays of quantum processors, but that's as far off as real interstellar transports. We have at least three architectural generations before we get there. Probably it won't be recognizable as a language at all, and the problems it solves would not even be recognizable to us as problems that computation could address.

Language wars

Posted Dec 11, 2008 15:51 UTC (Thu) by Ze (guest, #54182) [Link]

Sorry, but Python, in this context, is a motorcycle. It's more fun than a semi truck, and more versatile, but as handy as it is, Python does not now, and never will, carry industrial freight. Yes, a dirt bike could pull a trailer, but not well, and attaching a trailer misses the point of the dirt bike. Incidentally, Lisp is an ornithopter.

See I'd be inclined to call Python the scooter (and not a motor scooter :p).

I think most of the advantages of python have very little to do with the language and more with the API , that and some people seem to like lazy typing. I don't really find it any easier. I do look forward to the keyword auto in c++0x to take over where the type can be inferred.

Interview: Vernor Vinge

Posted Dec 11, 2008 14:15 UTC (Thu) by lysse (guest, #3190) [Link]

> This is not for lack of problems in C++; a language with a quarter the complexity but equal power would be no great feat, if only it gave up the C subset.

But isn't the C subset what enabled C++ to gain such an unshiftable foothold in the first place?

Interview: Vernor Vinge

Posted Dec 11, 2008 16:16 UTC (Thu) by Ze (guest, #54182) [Link]

In reality we have to deal with things like practicality. Using the basic syntax of c allowed c++ to gain a foothold quicker.

I think there are plenty of areas where c++ could be cleaned up. The proposed c++0x adds new features and seems to make a lot of things nicer but it has made the deliberate choice of not sacrificing backward compatibility when doing so. The auto keyword , initializer lists , and allowing constructors to delegate to others should make it a much nicer language though.

It's almost a pity they didn't take the next step though :(

I like c++ the most of any language I've regularly used so far. (I really must get into O'Caml one of these days).

Mind you the use of indentation for blocks in python does appeal to me. I'd probably only replace the {,} blocks with indentation though and keep the () parts of the syntax. I wonder how much harder the parsers job is made by the use of indentation for blocks instead of braces.

Interview: Vernor Vinge

Posted Dec 11, 2008 11:56 UTC (Thu) by NRArnot (subscriber, #3033) [Link]

Talk about missing the point!

The most obvious route to singularity (and therefore almost certainly wrong) is when the software starts writing the software. Shortly after, it starts making aesthetic judgements about the software, and moral ones about how to modify the software (itself), and then inevitably starts to ponder what to do about those slow meat-based creatures which started everything rolling, but which take literally seconds to have any sort of thought process at all.

Vernor Vinge has said it all a lot beter than I can in his fiction. Read the prologue to "A Fire Upon the Deep" (and then the rest of the book) for a pessimistic vision, and "Rainbows End" for a more optimistic spin (though if I were living in that version of our near future, I'd be very hesitant to make any predictions more than two years out. That, of course, *is* the point).

Already in mathematics, we have (fully open!) "proofs" which are beyond the comprehension of any human being, except by meta-mathematical methods. In other words, a computer program generates a proof which if printed on paper, would be anything from hundreds of thousands of pages upwards. The best that a human can do is to study the program which constructed the proof. You may even be able to prove that the abstract program is correct, but how to do that for the hardware and system in which it operates?

(For related SF, read Greg Egan's "Luminous" and "Permutation City")

Interview: Vernor Vinge

Posted Dec 11, 2008 22:40 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Vinge's classic in this area has to be _Marooned in Realtime_, which takes
place fifty million(!) years after the Singularity (if it was a
singularity: this is a point of active contention), among refugees who
managed to miss it. It's a murder mystery involving stasis fields.


Copyright © 2017, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds