[Humanist] 25.580 reactive engines

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Dec 31 09:32:28 CET 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 580.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2011 07:37:14 -0600
        From: amsler at cs.utexas.edu
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.579 Winograd's Reactive Engine Paper
        In-Reply-To: <20111230120539.BF4CD2679B9 at woodward.joyent.us>

It's a false sense of accomplishment. Time-sharing is still with us as  
our 'personal' computers share their time between all the tasks they  
are performing for us (and for themselves). Your computer is still  
only listening to your input part of the time and doesn't instantly  
drop everything when you use the keyboard. It is busy backing up  
files, clearing away old data, updating its stacks and queues of tasks  
to perform, downloading from the web, uploading to the web, fending  
off attacks from the web, saving files, accessing files--all the time  
it is on. Even disconnected from the web it isn't paying full  
attention to us. It watches the clock, knows when we've stopped  
typing, decides when to go to sleep if we stop working.

I can only believe that Terry Winograd was complaining about the speed  
of the computer he had access to because time-sharing was causing it  
to be too slow; which was a perennial problem with time-sharing  
systems when the number of users was the most critical factor in  
determining how much work you could get done.

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