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Joshua Levy comments in Risks 9.2 on the UK MoD Std: <>1. There should be no dynamic memory allocation (This rules out explicit <> recursion - though a bounded stack is allowed). <>2. There should be no interupts except for a regular clock interupt. <>3. There should not be any distributed processing <>4. There should not be any multiprocessing. >As a practical matter, these requirements rule out most (all?) real systems. >Also, I do not see why software which does none of these things is safer than >software which does all of them. These requirements seems to be designed to >compensate for the (huge) limitations of current program verification >techniques. Much safety-critical software is built this way already; it is simply untrue that these limitations rule out real systems. Software with these characteristics is safer because it is deterministic rather than non-deterministic — the number of states may often be reduced to a small enough number to perform extensive (and sometimes exhaustive) testing and analysis. No dynamic storage allocation also ensures that the system will not run out of memory during a critical operation: Again the goal is to make the software predictable and analyzable. Norm Finn, in the same issue of Risks, explains the reasons for and practicality of eliminating interrupts. Safety-critical systems are built this way in order to perform effective verification (e.g., testing and analysis) in general — it has nothing to do with the limitations of formal verification. I refer you to the design of the software for a nuclear reactor shutdown system described in my Computing Surveys article (June 1986) as an example and an explanation of the purpose of such restrictions. >Of course writing a compiler which does not use dynamic memory (see point 1) >would be an interesting exercise! You misunderstood — the limitation is on the object code, not on the compiler. If the compiler runs out of memory and fails to produce object code, this is not a hazard. >Overall, I found these standards funny, not useful. My conclusion is that no >safety critical software can not be written in the UK since points 1 and 2 >will mean that none of it will be up to standard. I cannot understand how this conclusion follows. There is already software performing safety-critical functions that satisfies these standards. In my experience, the software that has killed people in the past has almost always used unnecessarily complex programming techniques. For example, the Therac deaths were related to race conditions in the software created by the use of multitasking (which was not necessary to implement the required functionality). The nondeterminism involved makes it impossible to thoroughly test or analyze the Therac software to eliminate such critical errors. The most effective way to increase the reliability of software that we currently know about is simply to make it understandable and predictable. Although there may be many very good reasons for using sophisticated programming techniques, increased reliability and safety are usually not among them. When human life is involved, most real systems make tradeoffs in the direction of simplicity and predictability. For the most part, the new UK standard just specifies current standard practice for safety-critical software used by those most experienced in building such software. nancy
At the COMPASS '88 meeting last summer, John Cullyer described a quality study on modules selected from the NATO software inventory that was performed at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE), the central electronics research laboratory of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). Here is mention of that study from a recent paper, "High Integrity Computing", by W.J. Culler, pages 1-35 in "Formal Techniques in Real-Time and Fault-Tolerant Systems (Lecture Notes in Computer Science No. 331)", edited by M. Joseph, Springer-Verlag 1988: ``One of the techniques which has been developed to provide objective evidence of the correctness of software is called `static code analysis' ... (which uses) algebraic methods which are totally independent of dynamic testing...'' Application of static code analysis since 1985 has revealed some worrying results. Taking a broad average over the software checked by MOD or by contractors on behalf of MOD, up to 10 percent of the individual software modules have been shown to deviate from the original specification. Such discrepancies have been found even in software that has been subject to extensive testing on multi-million pound test rigs. Many of the anomalies detected have been minor and did not threaten the integrity of the system being monitored. However, about 1 in 20 of the defective functions that static code analysis had shown to be faulty, i.e., about 1 in every 200 of all new modules, proved to have errors that would have resulted in direct and observable effects on the vehicle or plant concerned. For example, potential overflows in integer arithmetic appears to be a common problem, involving a change in sign of the result of a calculation and hence the possibility of an actuator being driven in a dangerous direction.'' At COMPASS, Cullyer said about the same proportion of faulty modules was discovered in the British, American and German contributions. He also mentioned that the British MOD's interest in formal methods was motivated by several near-miss accidents involving computers that he said he was not permitted to discuss. - Jon Jacky, University of Washington
In a TV news report last evening (7/6) on the computer shutdown at O'Hare Airport, the reporter commented that the skies were actually safer as a result, which he attributed to two causes: first, that there was less air traffic and second, that "pilots are relying on their knowledge and their skills rather than on a computer." Jennifer Turney
The investigation continues into the Southern Pacific May 11 Cajon wreck. This was the incident where an SP potash unit train lost its brakes while descending Cajon Pass, a grade in excess of 2%. The train roared down the hill as the crew radioed they were out of control; it reached 90 mph before jumping the track and crashing into a neighborhood near San Bernadino. Three persons were killed, eight injured, and 11 homes destroyed. New information indicates an inaccurate calculation of the train's tonnage. Press reports indicated the train contained 69 cars with a weight of 6150 tons, but an SP assistant chief dispatcher has since estimated the actual weight as 8950 tons. Had the crew known the train's additional weight, they might have set up the air brakes sooner. Faulty dynamic brakes were found in one of the four lead engines and one of the two pushers. As the train crested the hill, the lead engineer radioed the pusher engineer to ask if he was "giving all [the dynamic braking] he had;" the rear engineer answered "yes" even though he told investigators that he was aware the dynamic brakes were not working. --From _Call_Board_, Mohawk & Hudson Chapter Nat'l Rwy Hist. Soc. Michael Trout, BRS Information Technologies, 1200 Rt. 7, Latham, N.Y. 12110
David Gursky's comments about grocery stores using computers to keep track of their customers so as to target mailings isn't anything new. I can't be the only person who wasn't allowed out of a Radio Shack store until I gave my name and address... And I always say "I'm on the mailing list already" and they always say "Well, the computer will notice it and won't put you on again." Problem is, my name is just complicated enough so that there's always just a LITTLE bit of difference when it is keypunched, and the computer says "BING BING BING not the same; add it to the list." Steven C. Den Beste (right. "Den Beste" complete with embedded space is my last name.) Steven C. Denbeste, Steven Den Beste, Stephen Den Beste, Steven D. Beste, Steven Dan Beste, Steven Beste, Steve Den Beste, Steven Baste, and on and on and on. At one address I was on the damned list 5 times. And since the Radio Shack mailing list never dies (they always say "or current resident") some poor bastard is STILL getting those five catalogs every couple of weeks. [I think I won't sign this.] [At least he did not want it to be anonymous! PGN]
The best comment of all may be that I received Steve "Pick a last name" Den Beste's message *before* my copy of RISKS with my message arrived! And if it is any consolation to Steve, in all the times I have shopped at Radio Shack (albeit few times) I have yet to receive their catalogue in the mail.
A less-intrusive variant of this is already in place at my local Safeway. After your purchase is rung up, a little printer on top of the cash register spits out some coupons for you. They always are for competing brands of things similar to what you just bought.
International IFIP-GI (IFORS-EFMI-AIME-GMDS) Conference: Program Opportunities and Risks of Artificial Intelligence Systems (ORAIS'89) July 17-20, 1989; University of Hamburg, FR Germany Monday, July 17, 1989: AI History, Impact, Paradigms J.Weizenbaum(Boston): Historical Perspectives of AI+changing Paradigms R.Lauffer(Jouy en Josas): The Social Acceptability of AI W.Bibel(Darmstadt): AI + Change of Reality: Opportunities+Dangers Afternoon: Working Groups: Position Papers Tuesday, July 18, 1989: Expert System: Opportunities and Risks: S.Savory(Paderborn):Expert System Vision: Reality vs. the Hype J.Berleur(Namur): CoSpeakers Comments W.Coy(Bremen): Machine Intelligence + Industrial Work B.Radig(Munich): CoSpeakers Comments Afternoon: Working Groups: Position Papers Wednesday, July 19, 1989: Applications of AI M.Stefanelli(Pavia):AI in Medicine H.Fiedler(Bonn): AI in Law Sture Haegglund(Linkoeping):On the Impact of Intelligent Systems and Knowledge Management Support in the Office Environment H.Sackman(LA):Salient Internat.Socio-Economic Opportunities+Risks in AI Afternoon Socio-Cultural Event (Ship tour to Operation Sail'89) Thursday, July 20, 1989: Conference Results and Outlook: Working Group Result: Report of WG Chairpersons K.Brunnstein(Hamburg): Human Intelligence and AI: an Outlook Working Group 1: Building Knowledge Bases & Expert Systems A Kobsa(Saarbruecken):User Modeling in Dialog Systems:Potentials+Hazards T.Bub (Darmstadt): Artificial Intelligence is an Information Technology B.Becker(St.Augustin):Elicitation+Modelling of Expertise:fundamental limits" Working Group 2: Applications in Medicine: J.Mira Mira(Santiago de Compostela):Time Aspects of Therapy Advisors L.Gierl(Munich): Experiences in Use of Expert Systems in Medicine H.Woltring(Eindhoven): Software+AI:How free are Research+Development? R.O'Moore(Dublin): Evaluation of Expert Systems in Medicine P.Nykanen(Tampere/Finland): The SYDPOL Project J.John(Munich): Methological Aspects of TA on Expert Systems in Medicine R.Engelbrecht(Munich):Opportunities+Risks of ExpS: Results from 3 Studies Working Group 3: Applications in Enterprise A.Leifeld(Duesseldorf):Using an ExpS to hedge Foreign Exchange Exposure M.Daniel(Karlsruhe): Impacts of Commercial Applications H.Damskis(Paderborn):The only Risk is not to take the Opportunity Working Group 4: Office Applications H.Brinkmann,A.Hohmann(Kassel):Decision Support Systems in Complex Organisations (Job Placement at Employment Offices in FRG) P.Dambon,F.Glasen,R.Kuhlen,M.Thost(Konstanz):Risks+Opportunities of ExpS in Offices of Administrative Institutions(Creditworthness Tests) G.Unseld(Frankfurt):Elementary Logic of Risks+Chances in the AI Business Working Group 5: Industrial and Engineering Applications P.Broedner(Karlsruhe):In Search of the Computer Aided Craftsman W.Beuschel,B.Groeger(Berlin/FRG):Chances+Risks of Using ExpSystems in the Engineering Design Process G.Stein(Leonberg/FRG):Why are Automatic Image Analysis Systems so limited? J.Heikkilae,P.Heino(Tampere):Risks of Industrial Systems with Knowledge Based Software S.Klaczko,M.Goeller(Hamburg):Automatic Reasoning for Decision Support Systems: the CIM Case Working Group 6: Public and Legal Aspects B.Brauner(Koeln): Some legal Aspects of ExpSystems according to German Law W.Kilian(Hannover):Liability for deficient Medical Expert Systems Working Group 7: Education & Training: M.Angelides,G.Doukidis(London):The Effectiveness of AI in Tutoring Systems D.Millin(RamatHasharon):Are Educational and Training Systems threatened by new Technologies such as AI and ExpSystems? Working Group 8: Risks and Security of AI-Systems I.Georgescu(Bucharest/Romania):Risks Sources in AI Applications H.Goorhuis(Zuerich):NESSY: A System that combines Symbolic Reasoning and Neural Computing to avoid some Risks of ExpSystems S.Fischer-Huebner,K.Brunnstein(Hamburg):Opportunities+Risks of Intrusion Detection Expert Systems A.Kieback,W.Vogel(Friedrichshafen):On Security of AI Systems(Experiences) Working Group 9: Risks and Accountability: K.Roediger(Berlin):The GI Document 'Computers and Responsibility' H.Sackman(LA): Towards an IFIP Code of Ethics based on Participative International Consensus Working Group 10: Methodological Aspects: G.Knospe(Wismar/GDR):Cognitive Adequacy of Knowledge Representation K.Fuchs-Kittowski(Berlin/GDR):Philosophical+Methodologial Positions regarding the Relationship between Artificial+Natural Intelligence Working Group 11: Software Technology Impacts H.Mueller-Merbach(Kaiserslautern): Intelligent Man-Machine Tandems C.Pyka(Hamburg): Future Information Systems for Everybody R.Meyer,W.Rose(Hamburg): CASE for the Nineties G.Dimitriou(Thessaloniki): AI in Software Engineering Conference Location: Hamburg University, Rechtshaus Schlueterstrasse 28, D 2000 Hamburg 13, FR Germany More information available from: Conference Secretariat: Dr. Klaus Brunnstein (Program Committee) Simone Fischer-Huebner (Organisation Committee) University of Hamburg (ORAIS '89),Schlueterstr.70, D 2000 Hamburg, FRG
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