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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Infecting an alien architecture, Part IV

In my posts on infecting an alien architecture (parts I, II and III), I devoted the first to Stephen Wolfram, author of A New Kind of Science and one of the seminal geniuses of our time. I was delighted this morning to receive my daily technology bible from KurzweilAI.net which referenced an article by Stephen Wolfram entitled 'Jeopardy!,' IBM, and Wolfram|Alpha. As far as IBM's Watson rises above run-of-the-mill search engines, Wolfram«Alpha towers over Watson in its vision, execution, and capability. Which is why IBM plans for Watson 2.0 include its access to Wolfram|Alpha. And which is why I made specific reference to Wolfram|Alpha in discussing creation of The Perfect Virus under principle #14: Stealth. The difference between IBM's Watson and Wolfram|Alpha is shown in Stephen's diagram of the two architectures:
I highly recommend the complete article hyperlinked above. But net-net, and in Stephen's own words:
…Wolfram|Alpha fully understands every answer it gives. It’s not somehow serving up pieces of statistical matches to documents it was fed. It’s actually computing its answers, based on knowledge that it has. And most of the answers it computes are completely new: they’ve never been computed or written down before.
Simply, if I'm trying to "grok" an alien intelligence—either computational intelligence or sentient gray matter—Wolfram|Alpha is an indispensable tool (actually, Wolfram's Mathematica is equally indispensable for the harder "grokking" jobs). And for those of you who don't feel you have the time, or if the English language doesn't come easily to you, you should at least consider Stephen Wolfram's section on the Principle of Computational Equivalence as you face the daunting task of infecting an alien architecture. Because Black Box Portability (principle #7 of The Perfect Virus) is not only possible, but it may be the difference between winning or losing the next cyber war.

As far as my future fiction writing goes, insights gained from A New Kind of Science and specifically Wolfram's section on the Principle of Computational Equivalence have combined to give me some seriously good ideas that, at their worst, will help the reader "suspend disbelief" on the topic. At their best, if I can score myself a get-out-of-jail-free card regarding attacks on my Linux server, there may be a nasty surprise just waiting for the chance to badly startle a rogue government or two.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?