Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Software Agents Fight Unseen On The Web

The gentle, scholarly world of Wikipedia seems like the last place that autonomous software agents would engage in a corrective fight to the death.

“An increasing number of decisions, options, choices, and services depend now on bots working properly, efficaciously, and successfully,” say Taha Yasseri and pals at the University of Oxford in the U.K. “Yet, we know very little about the life and evolution of our digital minions.”

This raises an interesting question. How do bots interact with each other?

“We find that, although Wikipedia bots are intended to support the encyclopedia, they often undo each other’s edits and these sterile ‘fights’ may sometimes continue for years,” they say.

In particular, Yasseri and co focus on whether bots disagree with one another. One way to measure this on Wikipedia is by reverts—edits that change an article back to the way it was before a previous change.

Over a 10-year period, humans reverted each other about three times on average. But bots were much more active. “Over the 10-year period, bots on English Wikipedia reverted another bot on average 105 times,” say Yasseri and co.

..it shows how relatively simple bots can produce complex dynamics with unintended consequences. It is all the more concerning given that Wikipedia is a gated community where the use of robots is reasonably well governed.

The idea that autonomous "software agents" or "bots" would fight it out online is almost fifty years old.

In John Brunner's 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider, computer whiz Nickie Haflinger happened to offend a certain Shad Fluckner, an employee of Anti-Trauma, Inc. When Haflinger woke up in the morning to find his power out, he took steps to discover the source of the problem:

A sweet recorded voice told him his phone credit was in abeyance pending judgment in the lawsuit that was apt to end with all his assets being garnisheed...

Lawsuit? What lawsuit?...

Then the answer dawned on him, and he almost laughed. Fluckner had resorted to one of the oldest tricks in the store and turned loose in the continental net a self-perpetuating tapeworm, probably headed by a denuciation group "borrowed" from a major corporation, which would shunt itself from one nexus to another every time his credit-code was punched into a keyboard. It could take days to kill a worm like that, and sometimes weeks.

Being a full-service science fiction author, Brunner not only describes the problem, but also its solution - the counter-worm:

He sent a retaliatory worm chasing Fluckner's. That should take care of the immediate problem in three to thirty minutes, depending on whether or not he beat the inevitable Monday morning circuit overload.

It was a common problem, as described in the novel:

According to recent report, there were so many worms and counter-worms loose on the data-net now, the machines had been instructed to give them a low priority unless they related to a medical emergency.

Via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/6/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Computer ")

Tongue-Controlled Tong Wearable Mouth Computer
'Griff found the white and pink map distracting and switched it off using his tongue mouse.' - Greg Bear, 2007.

Interpol Launches Metaverse For Law Enforcement
'CopSpace sheds some light on matters, of course. Blink and it descends in its full glory.' - Charles Stress, 2007.

AVATECT Prevents Spoofing Of Avatars
'Your physical appearance is a graphical encryption that the human mind is uniquely qualified to decode.' - Daniel Suarez, 2009.

I Really Want A Folding Computer
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.' - William Gibson, 1986.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

'Courier Commons' By Tomorrow Lab, From Karl Schroeder (and Bruce Sterling?)
'The pokkecon rang again. *The coffee’s for him?* Tsuyoshi said.'

Terrifying Robotic Apple Harvester
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant.'

Jetson-Style Clockwork Robot Nail Salon Coming To Target Near You
The Jetsons imagined so much future.

Mechanical Horse Sculpture Gallops In Place
'Rod placed the brain inside the panel... the horse raised its head, wiggled its ears, blinked twice, gave a tentative whinny.'

'Make Sunsets' Tweaks Climate By Atmospheric Alteration
'Pina2bo would have to operate full blast for many years to put as much SO2 into the stratosphere as its namesake had done in a few minutes.'

Eviation Alice Electric Plane First Flight
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'

Hotels Turn To Robots As Human Workers Regroup
'Chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'

Changesite Mineral To Be Mined On Moon By China
'But then... not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon.'

Tongue-Controlled Tong Wearable Mouth Computer
'Griff found the white and pink map distracting and switched it off using his tongue mouse.'

Is It Better To Be Short?
'He was one of the smaller, energy-saving new breed...'

Taikonaut Tai Chi Foot Loops
'Jimmy Cardigan and Harlowe, staring through the darkside port, had their feet in the foot-loops...'

Space Billboards Would Ruin Our View Of The Cosmos
'But the rising sign, as it had been designed to do, held his eyes. A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'

Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-M’Lou in and out of the atmosphere...'

MarsCat and MetaCat, Your Robot Cat Companions
'It was you who betrayed me — you and your robot cat.'

Mars Mission Using Nuclear Thermal Propulsion
'with its atomic engine as noiseless as a dancing sunbeam...'

Physiotherapists Get Help From Robots
'Most of the Members went into cold-rest; the others tended them...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.