Monday, August 08, 2005

Why The System will fail

Taken together, these procedures represented a
huge change from the older notions of artificial
intelligence, or AI. In the old days, programmers
tried to write rules to cover every situation.
But this common sense knowledge proved to be
extremely difficult to program. The computer
would make mistakes. New rules would be added to
avoid the mistakes. Then more mistakes, and more
rules. Eventually the programs were gigantic,
millions of lines of code, and they began to fail
out of sheer complexity. They were too large to
debug. You couldn't figure out where the
errors were coming from.

But distributed networks of agents offered an
entirely new approach. And the programming
philosophy was new, too. The old rules-based
programming was "topdown." The system
as a whole was given rules of behavior.

But the new programming was "bottom up." The
program defined the behavior of individual agents
at the lowest structural level. But the behavor
of the system as a whole was not defined.
Instead, the behavior of the system emerged, the
result of hundreds of small interactions
occurring at a lower level. Because the system
was not programmed, it could produce
surprising results. Results never anticipated
by the programmers. That was why they
could seem "lifelike."
--Prey, Michael Crichton,
Copyright 2002, pg. 68. ISBN 0-06-621412-2

My life, my property, my rules. Your life, your
property, your rules.

Let's try not to hurt each other.

Ready, set, GO.

Via L. Reichard White