8.7

Reading 4: Software aspects of strategic defense systems

This assignment is due on Sunday, February 19 at 11:59pm. Don’t bullshit.

Exercise 1. Read Software aspects of strategic defense systems by Parnas. Focus on similarities between Parnas’s description of the SDI software system and other software systems that you are more familiar with.
  • When you follow the link above with your browser, you should see Parnas’s article, as well as a button “<” in the upper-right corner. Use the “<” button to expand the annotation sidebar.

  • You may need to log in to Hypothesis, using the account you created in Reading 1: Who can define the bigger number?.

  • **Pay attention to this next step**. This is a common mistake that results in many zeros on the assignment. After logging in, you are not done. You still have to expand the drop-down menu “Public” in the top right sidebar, make sure it says “my groups”, and change it to our course group “211”. You belong to this group because you used the invite link in Reading 1: Who can define the bigger number?. If you don’t post to this group, then other students won’t see your annotations, and you won’t get credit.

Exercise 2. Find two of the many places in the article where Parnas names a characteristic of the SDI software system. For example, here’s one of the many places: “It will be impossible to test the system under realistic conditions prior to its actual use.” Carefully select exactly the relevant passages, and Annotate them like this:
  • “I am familiar with DrRacket. Unlike with the SDI software system, it is possible to test DrRacket under realistic conditions prior to its actual use, because…”

    or

  • “I am familiar with my phone’s camera. Like with the SDI software system, it is impossible to test my phone’s camera under realistic conditions prior to its actual use, because…”

Pick a software system that you are familiar with, and choose either the “Unlike” or the “Like” annotation format above.

As the examples above show, your annotation must apply the specific passage you highlight to a specific software system that you are familiar with. It would be incorrect to write the exact same annotations above if you highlight a different passage such as “The computing will be done by a network of computers connected to sensors, weapons, and each other”. If you highlight that passage, then you might Annotate it like this:
  • “I am familiar with GeoGebra, an interactive mathematics software suite for learning and teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Unlike with the SDI software system, the computing in GeoGebra is not done by a network of computers connected to sensors, weapons, and each other, because…”

However, the following annotations would still be incorrect:
  • “I am familiar with GeoGebra. Unlike with the SDI software system, the computing in GeoGebra is not done by a network of computers connected to sensors, weapons, and each other, because GeoGebra was created by Markus Hohenwarter.”

    This annotations is incorrect, because it does not give an actual reason after the word “because”.

  • “I am familiar with GeoGebra. Like with the SDI software system, the computing in GeoGebra is not done by a network of computers connected to sensors, weapons, and each other, because…”

    This annotation is incorrect, because “Like” means that GeoGebra must not have the characteristic that Parnas describes in the highlighted passage. If you choose the “Like” annotation format, then you must describe why your software system does have the characteristic. Conversely, if you choose the “Unlike” annotation format, then you must describe why your software system does not have the characteristic.

  • “I am familiar with GeoGebra. Like with the SDI software system, the computing in GeoGebra is done by a network of computers connected to sensors, weapons, and each other, because…”

    This annotation is incorrect, because it is not true that the computing in GeoGebra is done by a network of computers connected to sensors, weapons, and each other. You would know this if you were actually familiar with GeoGebra.

  • “I am familiar with the design recipe…”

    “I am familiar with structures…”

    “I am familiar with Indiana University…”

    These annotations are all incorrect, because the design recipe, structures, and Indiana University are not software systems.

  • “I am familiar with video games…”

    This annotation is incorrect, because it does not name a specific software system that you are familiar with. Which specific video game?

  • “I am familiar with superintelligent AI…”

    This annotation is incorrect, because superintelligent AI doesn’t exist. Which specific superintelligent AI?

Optional: Watch Parnas’s presentation and rebuttal at the debate sponsored by Computing Professionals for Social Responsibility at MIT in 1985.