On Computing: The Fourth Great Scientific Domain
Paul S. Rosenbloom
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Computing is not simply about hardware or software, or calculation or applications. Computing, writes Paul Rosenbloom, is an exciting and diverse, yet remarkably coherent, scientific enterprise that is highly multidisciplinary yet maintains a unique core of its own. In On Computing, Rosenbloom proposes that computing is a great scientific domain on a par with the physical, life, and social sciences.
Rosenbloom introduces a relational approach for understanding computing, conceptualizing it in terms of forms of interaction and implementation, to reveal the hidden structures and connections among its disciplines. He argues for the continuing vitality of computing, surveying the leading edge in computing's combination with other domains, from biocomputing and brain-computer interfaces to crowdsourcing and virtual humans to robots and the intermingling of the real and the virtual. He explores forms of higher order coherence, or macrostructures, over complex computing topics and organizations. Finally, he examines the very notion of a great scientific domain in philosophical terms, honing his argument that computing should be considered the fourth great scientific domain.
With On Computing, Rosenbloom, a key architect of the founding of University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies and former Deputy Director of USC's Information Sciences Institute, offers a broader perspective on what computing is and what it can become.
computing—and core versus peripheral computing—bringing computational science and the plethora of informatics disciplines fully into the fold. Last, but not least, it sets us up for a discussion of the importance and vitality of the science of computing. Computing is not merely the handmaiden of the other sciences, nor is it just a pragmatic art or a form of engineering; it is a great scientific domain in its own right. 2 The Relational Approach The relational approach to understanding
quantum computing to crack the cryptographic codes built on integer factorization that protect much of our critical data. Quantum computing is discussed further in chapter 3. Artificial intelligence (AI), according to the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, is “The scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines.”14 It is a classical combination of the computing and social domains (C+S), as well as of
studied in dynamics. A recliner brings in some amount of motion, although it requires either more physical implementation (a motor, etc.) or the addition of a human (S/L) to the system to make it actually move. A human–chair system can be viewed as an interaction between a human and a chair, involving the body as well as the mind: S/L↔P/(P↔P/L). Cars are also familiar examples of the implementation of physical entities but are considerably more complex than chairs, comprising an intricate
What is required is software that can monitor software (C←C) to detect and diagnose existing and potential issues in it and alter the monitored software (C→C) as necessary to fix the problems, yielding in toto a form of pure dyadic interaction: C↔C. If the monitoring software is the same as the software being monitored, we have reflective software that monitors and repairs itself. Otherwise, we have two distinct programs and the additional issue of how to monitor the monitoring software. This
computational awareness will provide extraordinary power, pervasively affecting our lives and the future of everything on our planet. Mostly, such a capability is ethically neutral in and of itself, but it raises major questions about how it will be used and to what extent it will lead to a utopian versus a dystopian future. On the positive side, such capabilities should enable us to detect automatically, and even to anticipate, when things are going wrong, so as to be able to intervene before