Python is readable

Nathan Rice nathan.alexander.rice at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 20:37:09 CEST 2012


On Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 9:44 AM, Albert van der Horst
<albert at spenarnc.xs4all.nl> wrote:
> In article <mailman.896.1332440814.3037.python-list at python.org>,
> Nathan Rice  <nathan.alexander.rice at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>> http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000018.html
>>
>>I read that article a long time ago, it was bullshit then, it is
>>bullshit now.  The only thing he gets right is that the Shannon
>>information of a uniquely specified program is proportional to the
>>code that would be required to generate it.  Never mind that if a
>
> Thank you for drawing my attention to that article.
> It attacks the humbug software architects.
> Are you one of them?
> I really liked that article.

I read the first paragraph, remembered that I had read it previously
and stopped.  I accidentally remembered something from another Joel
article as being part of that article (read it at
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/12/03.html).  I don't really
have anything to say on Joel's opinions about why people can or should
code, their his and he is entitled to them.  I feel they are overly
reductionist (this isn't a black/white thing) and have a bit of
luddite character to them.  I will bet you everything I own the only
reason Joel is alive today because of some mathematical abstraction he
would be all too happy to discount as meaningless (because, to him, it
is).  Of course, I will give Joel one point: too many things related
to programming are 100% hype, without any real substance; if his
article had been about bullshit software hype and he hadn't fired the
broadsides at the very notion of abstraction, I wouldn't have anything
to say.

Anyhow, if you "ugh rock good caveman smash gazelle put in mouth make
stomach pain go away" meaning, here it is:  Programs are knowledge.
The reverse is not true, because programming is an infantile area of
human creation, mere feet from the primordial tide pool from whence it
spawned.  We have a very good example of what a close to optimal
outcome is: human beings - programs that write themselves, all
knowledge forming programs, strong general artificial intelligence.
When all knowledge is also programs, we will have successfully freed
ourselves from necessary intellectual drudgery (the unnecessary kind
will still exist).  We will be able to tell computers what we want on
our terms, and they will go and do it, checking in with us from time
to time if they aren't sure what we really meant in the given context.
 If we have developed advanced robotics, we will simultaneously be
freed from most manual labor.  The only thing left for Joel to do will
be to lounge about, being "creative" while eating mangos that were
picked, packed, shipped and unloaded by robots, ordered by his
computer assistant because it knows that he likes them, then
delivered, prepared and served by more robots.

The roadblocks in the path include the ability to deal with
uncertainty, understand natural languages and the higher order
characteristics of information.  Baby steps to deal with these
roadblocks are to explicitly forbid uncertainty, simplify the language
used, and explicitly state higher order properties of information.
The natural evolution of the process is to find ways to deal with
ambiguity, correctly parse more complex language and automatically
deduce higher order characteristics of information.

Clearly, human intelligence demonstrates that this is not an
impossible pipe dream.  You may not be interested in working towards
making this a reality, but I can pretty much guarantee on the scale of
human achievement, it is near the top.



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