ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage
JOCCH publishes papers of
significant and lasting value in
all areas relating to the use of ICT
in support of Cultural Heritage,
seeking to combine the best of
computing science with real
attention to any aspect of the
cultural heritage sector.
Cognitive vs. subconscious thinking.
A recent book by Daniel Kahnemann2
revisits some of the earlier studies of
left-brain (logical, linear, methodical) versus right-brain (intuitive,
subconscious, out of the box) thinking. Our educational systems tend
to prod the former, while in some
cases neglecting the latter. Kahnemann’s fast thinking (more or less
right brain) tends to be checked or
modulated by slow thinking (more or
less left brain). What is important in
the present context is that long-term
thinking inherently requires a well-integrated combination of both4 as
applied to computer system development). A holistic balance of human
intelligence, experience, memory,
ingenuity, creativity, and collective
wisdom, with slow and fast thinking,
is extremely valuable in exploring the
trade-offs between short-term gains
and long-term potentials within some
sort of holistic big-picture foresight.
Innovation. New computing technologies tend to introduce new security vulnerabilities, as well as reintroduce earlier ones. This has occurred
over many decades, with buffer-over-flow attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks (for example, Needham-Schro-eder), distributed denial-of-service
attacks, physical attacks on crypto and
mobile devices, spam, and both large-scale and targeted social engineering.
When security problems continually
recur, it might be time to do something different. Perhaps this tendency
can be overcome with formally based
architectures and developments.
High assurance. Formal methods
have always had enormous promise,
but have been very difficult to use.
As they become more integrally and
seamlessly embedded in the development process and more diverse
(encompassing a variety of solvers),
they may finally become more viable.
The biggest remaining challenge
may involve designing and analyzing systems that are composed from
components that themselves have
been thoroughly analyzed and whose
analyses are themselves composable.
Reliance on the marketplace.
Market success in hardware and software
tends to produce winners that may
not be adequately trustworthy. The alternative of clean-slate developments
is generally unpopular and difficult
to pursue in commercial enterprises,
but currently reborn in several DARPA
research and development programs
such as CRASH (Clean-slate design
of Resilient, Adaptable, Survivable
Hosts) and MRC (Mission-oriented
Interactions with other disciplines.
All of the considerations noted here
can be much more effective if motivated by real applications such as medical information systems, telerobotic
surgery systems, real-time control systems, low-power multipurpose mobile
devices, and so on. The application of
long-term thinking to such applications is essential to ensure satisfaction of their critical requirements. An
earlier article3 characterizes the holistic nature of energy, agriculture, and
health care—each of which requires a
deeper understanding of the need for
long-term thinking—and contrasts
them with various computer-related
A few illustrative requirements:
Computer system security and integrity. The relative ease of perpetrating certain attacks such as viruses,
worms, and exploits such as Conficker
and Stuxnet suggests that long-term
concerns have been largely ignored.
With particular attention to critical
national infrastructure systems, we
seem to have arrived at lowest-common-denominator systems and have had
to live with them, in the absence of
better alternatives. The standards for
acceptable levels of security and best
practices are typically much too simplistic and basically inadequate. Relevant efforts of various research and
development communities seem to
be largely ignored.
Computer-aided elections suffer from
all of the aforementioned difficulties,
plus more. The proprietary nature of
commercial systems is a serious obstacle to meaningful oversight, as is the
lack of constructive integrity throughout the entire election cycle, the lack
of incisive audit trails, extensive opportunities for insider misuse of technology, and manipulation of the ex-ternalities—for example, registration,
and so on.
The financial crises of the past few
years present another example in which