Ruthless Massively Parallel Trial-and-Error with a Feedback Cycle
Glyn Moody points to Simon Willison pointing to an old 2001 post by Linus Torvalds. An oldie but a goodie, I’m including it here for greater memory permanence.
In response to a comment that “Linux really isn’t going anywhere in particular and seems to be making progress through sheer luck,” Linus writes:
Hey, that’s not a bug, that’s a FEATURE!
You know what the most complex piece of engineering known to man in the whole solar system is?
Guess what - it’s not Linux, it’s not Solaris, and it’s not your car.
It’s you. And me.
And think about how you and me actually came about - not through any complex design.
Right. “Sheer luck.”
Well, sheer luck, AND:
- Free availability and crosspollination through sharing of “source code,” although biologists call it DNA.
- A rather unforgiving user environment, that happily replaces bad versions of us with better working versions and thus culls the herd (biologists often call this “survival of the fittest”).
- Massive undirected parallel development (“trial and error”).
I’m deadly serious: we humans have never been able to replicate something more complicated than what we ourselves are, yet natural selection did it without even thinking.
Don’t underestimate the power of survival of the fittest.
And don’t EVER make the mistake that you can design something better than what you get from ruthless massively parallel trial-and-error with a feedback cycle. That’s giving your intelligence much too much credit.
Quite frankly, Sun is doomed. And it has nothing to do with their engineering practices or their coding style.
—Linus Torvalds, some post, 30 November 2001
Some discussion around Sun, apparently. I hope Sun isn’t doomed; maybe not if they’re moving away from a proprietary software model.
But in any case, good stuff. Life is such a crazy, wonderful, many-splendored thing. Where did we come from, and where are we going?