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"S. Ron Oliver" <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 20 Feb 2001 07:41:33 -0700
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At 10:52 AM 2/14/01 -0500, Michael Feldman wrote:

>But let's not be naive about how "validation" comes about. For example,
>medical devices are "validated",

. . .

>Underwriters Laboratories (again, in the US) "validates" electrical

. . .
Yes, I understand the importance of government "intervention" in many cases.

However, there ARE industries, e.g., the medical profession, where
professionals (e.g., via the AMA) play a big role in establishing standards
of conduct and practice, without significant government
"intervention".  Due to the nature of software, "standards of conduct and
practice" is a better angle from which to view compiler validation than the
validation of gadgets, consumable products, and physical tools, etc.

.  . .

>You're being harder on software people than on other techies. I think
>it's more realistic to say that we'll focus on this only when not
>doing so either gets us in trouble with the government (the Ada
>case...) or could really hurt us in the pocketbook (the UL case).

Perhaps, but I think what I'm really saying is that "techies", with the
bent you ascribe to them, are not the right people to be trusted with doing
software development of any kind that has any impact on the society at
large.  This is where we (especially us academics) have really screwed
up.  "Our" model of what software developers are is very blue-collar.  A
white collar, truly professional model, more like that for doctors and
lawyers, is much more appropriate.

Blue-collar "professionals", understandably, require considerable
government intervention.  White-collar professionals, at worst, guide the
government in setting standards of conduct and practice.


P.S.  Mike, I'm really glad you brought up this comparison with the FDA and
UL.  It really helped me focus and better articulate an important aspect of
the substantial change I feel there needs to be made in the way we view
software development.

S. Ron Oliver, semi-retired professor of Computer Science and Computer

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