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    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

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rshow55 - 12:41pm Jun 18, 2002 EST (#2613 of 2618) Delete Message

The control of our nuclear weapons systems can easily become explosively unstable if there is a single sign switch, that is left uncorrected. Such sign switches are common in human organizations - and the higher the anxiety level, the more common they are likely to be. And, so far as I can tell, the process that makes for this sign switching, though common, is not commonly understood.

But that is, of course, an issue I need to defer dealing with, until I can become, if not "completely unshackled" -- at least unshackled enough to explain a few things. It is no fun being "Cassandra" - - and since I care about right answers, I'm trying to get into a situation where people will listen.

. . . . .

I have some other difficulties with the controls, as well - a point I have been trying to make since before my 1 day meeting with "becq" on September 25, 2000, on this thread.

rshow55 - 12:59pm Jun 18, 2002 EST (#2614 of 2618) Delete Message

I'm making progress in finding out who I can talk to. MD1786 rshow55 4/26/02 11:19am . . . I think we're facing soluble problems, if we're just willing to "collect, connect, and correct the DOTS" . . . and keep doing it until we come to reasonable focus. MD324 rshow55 3/10/02 1:22pm

rshow55 - 02:39pm Jun 18, 2002 EST (#2615 of 2618) Delete Message

The question of fraud can't be ruled out, on missile defense, or many other things. MD1676 rshow55 4/22/02 7:47pm

. . . but good faith mistakes can't be ruled out either. Motivations and patterns are mixed. And sometimes results are, and look, essentially the same, whatever the motives may be. .

But what happens if checking is forbidden - and this goes on for long times?

It isn't only that mistakes can happen. Some kinds of mistakes are statistically likely -- and in complicated enough systems, essentially certain, after a long enough time.

I'm trying to move carefully. We're dealing with soluble problems here - and some of the most central problems are simple, and maybe even well along toward solution now.

. . . .

Question: Suppose you have a system where exception handling may exist, but involves penalties? Most exception handling systems are like this. Now, suppose, by intention or inadvertance, information that "should be" filtered out by the system gets through once ?

How likely is the exception handling to be the same the next time? Will there be any exception handling left at all?

It can easily happen that a system built to "pass" one kind of information, but filter out all other kinds, switches so that it never passes on the information it is :"built" to convey. This is especially likely to be true of systems that are basically "exception handling."

Thirty years ago, the FBI and CIA didn't talk to each other much, but when talking had to occur, people could, for good reasons that they could explain, get past filters, so that good communication could occur. Now, or recently, in exactly the areas where FBI and CIA need to communicate best, they seem not to be able to communicate of function rationally at all. Filtering mechanisms that are exactly wrong have come into being.

When an exception handling "switch" fires, in a system that is essentially digital, and made in the usual ways, the system has to be "reset" in order for the exception handling to function properly again. Unless this is done, the system filter will have a sign switch - and will act exactly wrong.

Human exception handling is often like this, as well.

rshow55 - 02:44pm Jun 18, 2002 EST (#2616 of 2618) Delete Message

Military patterns of exception handling are especially likely to have this problem. And the higher the anxiety of the designers, the more likely the problem is.

"Safeties" can become "triggers" when this sort of mistake is made. -- And triggers that are supposed to work, and "tested" to be reliable - can fail to function at all when they are supposed to.

I have some recent experimental evidence of this sort of thing, in dealing with a government organization.

I called a good man up on the telephone, and the system worked exactly as it was supposed to. It is now reset, at least with respect to me, so that it acts in an exactly opposite way.

rshow55 - 03:28pm Jun 18, 2002 EST (#2617 of 2618) Delete Message

When I deal with individuals and organizations, I have to be concerned with "sign switching" - and changing systems, perhaps for the worse, by interacting with them.

For certain kinds of jobs you must have two people cooperating - one alone simply cannot do certain things.

There are also certain kinds of jobs that can only be done with some face to face interaction - under circumstances where people have some reasonable distrust of each other -- so that they can check on each other, as people, and check on facts.

Playing Know And Tell By JOHN SCHWARTZ . . tells the story of Cassandra, and does so beautifully. It is a story about people getting something exactly wrong, and not hearing warnings that they are wrong. Schwartz's piece ends


Once listening occurs, and people hear that a mistake might have been made, there is still uncertainty. There is no way to tell whether a mistake has been made - but to check physically, or by internal consistency tests.

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