Using Humans as a Computer Model

NY Times article about controlling computing complexity. Focusses on Paul M. Horn, a senior vice president who oversees the research labs at I.B.M, and a paper he authored on autonomic computing. It is a biological metaphor suggesting a systemic approach to attaining a higher level of automation in computing. Just as a person's autonomic nervous system automatically handles all kinds basic functions the heart rate, breathing and digestion, for example in response to changing conditions, so, too, should computer systems, according to Mr. Horn. The human body "does all this without any conscious recognition or effort on your part," he writes. "This allows you to think about what you want to do and not how you'll do it: you can make a mad dash for the train without having to calculate how much faster to breathe and pump your heart." Similarly, Mr. Horn says, the way to handle the complexity problem is to create computer systems and software that can respond to changes in the digital environment, so the systems can adapt, heal themselves and protect themselves. Only then, he adds, will the need be reduced for constant human maintenance, fixing and debugging of computer systems.