Software Creation Mystery - http://softwarecreation.org

Archive for October, 2007

Lost Personalities: How our company alters us

– We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.
– Yes, but the bank is only made of men.
– No, you’re wrong there- quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.

– The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Any company or large group of people is more than a sum of individuals. A company exercises control over people minds and changes them. Inside the company, organization or crowd you are no longer you, but the element of the system. You feel, think and behave differently. Collective actions are distinct and often independent of individual wills and desires. The scandal with Enron, tragedies of Abu Ghraib and Holocaust show how normal people minds could be dangerously influenced by group and context pressure.

Three stages of altering our minds:

  1. Compliance – agree with collective views or acts in front of the group, but disagree in private.
  2. Identification – temporary believe in collective view while being part of the group, but return to old beliefs after leaving a group.
  3. Internalization – the individual views are truly altered and induce permanent change in a value system even outside the group.

There are three powerful forces that change us:

  • Conformity
  • Obedience
  • Absorption

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Can Computers Beat Human Programmers? Part 3. Interacting with humans

Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest. – Isaac Asimov

Part 1. Gaining processing power
Part 2. Becoming intelligent
Part 3. Interacting with humans
Part 4. Building useful programs
Part 5. Future of human programmers

Even a super intelligent computer needs input from humans to build a program. It is great if you are a scientist or a computer professional and can provide mathematical models or algorithms. But what if you don’t know how to specify what you need from the program? Can computer really understand us? Can people trust computers to build a correct system for their needs? Will be communication with computer comfortable and effective?

We should consider four important software creation areas to answer these questions:

  1. Understanding – can computer comprehend our language and complex ideas?
  2. Engagement – can computer effectively involve us in communication?
  3. Guiding – can computer help us to understand our needs, direct our thinking and retrieve useful information?
  4. Trust – can we trust that computer will follow our human interests, obey rules and don’t do harm?

1. Understanding

Alan Turing offered the first test for computer intelligence – a computer is intelligent if you cannot distinguish in conversation this computer from human (John Searle argues in his Chinese room experiment that it is not enough). Computer should posses intelligence, master language and understand meaning of words to pass the test.

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Guide to Job Security for Software Developers: 15 Sure-Fire Methods

Job Security (my definition): perceived company’s losses of firing you are much higher than keeping you around.

I proudly present comprehensive collection of three sure-fire strategies and 15 sure-fire methods that could dramatically enhance your job security.

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