Sunday, March 13, 2005

When I start teaching, I'm going to tell them to fear punishment by death...

You know, when I take a faculty position somewhere someday and start teaching young engineers engineering, I think I'm going to try to provide a new kind of encouragement for them to take pride in their work later in life. That is, I think I'll try to explain to them that if they slack off even a little bit some idiot somewhere is going to give in to the frustration of using their software or hardware and crack. That idiot is going to track them down, target them, and kill them. It's a certainty. The only thing they can do to save their own lives is to spend a little extra time in the office on weekends and make sure that EVEN IF MANAGEMENT WANTS TO CUT FEATURES, it is their responsibility to make sure the end product has 100% of its functionality. They need to be smart, or someone is going to go and kill them.

Anyway, I spent a good majority of the night wasting my time getting some new hardware up and running. I'm not going to bother with details. I'm just going to make a long story short and let you know my desire to kill (to taste blood even) after I was finished. I'm still not happy with how things sit, but at least they work consistently provided I tilt my head in a certain way.

So that will be my first task as a new faculty member -- to convince young engineers that they should constantly be in fear of losing their lives, because eventually some Unibomber or other whacko out there is going to come and kill them. It's inevitible. I feel it would be irresopnsible for me to NOT deliver this message, as it is certainly true, and people need to know this.

Protect yourself. Don't release bad hardware and software. If you feel the desire to do so anyway, just kill yourself and save yourself the surprise. If management tells you to skimp, kill yourself to make a statement. Make it public too. It's no good to go and kill the management and then kill yourself as it just makes you look barbaric. Kill yourself publically without threatening anyone else to show you were just doing a service. Do it publically so that people can see how bad your management is.

It's time for us to start raising the stakes. Technology simply is not to blame. People are to blame, and they are going to be held accoutable soon, and the young engineers need to be aware of this, and start raising the bar.

1 comment:

Theo said...

I've been thinking more about this, and I think there's a lot of merit to this suggestion.

You see, much of the early electromagnetics and control (in general, engineering) literature that we have comes from the Russians. I remember doing a research project in undergrad where the prof was finding books I could read for resources when he asked, "Do you speak Russian?" Apparently it was a big deal that I didn't.

One reason the Russians have done so much good analytical work is simply because they haven't had the technology to do the simulations that allow them to do the work numerically. Americans turned to computers where Russians (Soviets, in particular) were forced to just do the math.

However, even before computers were available to engineers, the Russians had a very different engineering tradition. Why? Because the czar often would punish failure with death. Because of this, Russian technology has THROUGH HISTORY always been bigger and bulkier and more redundant. That doesn't mean it was safer, necessarily. Keep in mind that the Russians were using nitrogen-enriched air long before anyone else. The purpose of this was to prevent explosions within the cabin that would kill all of the astronauts (sound familiar?); however, the consequence of it was that the Russians needed MUCH larger rockets to carry the heavier nitrogen. These larger rockets ended up resulting in much larger catastrophes on the ground (hundreds of scientists killed at a time, for example)... but the whole idea to use them in the first place came from a tradition of building something bigger and stronger just in fear of their lives.

That's why the socialist spirit has worked so "well" over there. There WAS incentive for people to do better things. If they didn't keep striving to do better, they'd get KILLED.

So I think death is a great way to encourage the next generation of engineers not to be dumbass Alan Piscetello assholes. Yeah. I do.