originally posted by: SubTruth
what is colossus syndrome and could you add even more detail about this subject...
Hm. Ok, there was a movie long ago based on a trilogy written by DF Jones, if I recall.
They only did the first book of the trilogy in the original movie. I think Will Smith was drafted for a remake but the script sucked and the whole
thing went into a Hollywood black hole. They ought to let me write it.
I suppose the remake has something to do with ecology and feeding the poor
or global warming or something. They end up screwing up good plot outlines with whatever the script writer's got a boner for this year. Sad,
At any rate, Colossus: The Forbin Project is a tale of the horrors of emergent behavior, unintended consequences, scientists who try to be engineers,
and politicians with a god complex.
Going from the book, which explains what's going on a bit more legibly than the movie does, you have a brilliant computer scientist named Charles
Forbin, who is a total nerd. He develops a novel form of logic (it's not clear, but likely some sort of optical neural network from the vague hints)
which not only is 3D, ungodly fast, massively parallel and innately resistant to physical issues like heat, cold, immersion in water and exposure to
gamma radiation, but each logic block and the installation as a whole is also able to repair itself by altering its internal configuration.
He pitches this to the US government as the basis for a novel defensive system, wherein he will build the largest computer complex ever, based on his
new logic/architecture/programming concepts. The idea is that the new computer, code named Colossus, will receive all intelligence including all phone
traffic, all news broadcasts, all data linkages etc. It's also to be built in Utah or something, sort of reminds you of the NSA's new machine.
Colossus will evaluate every bit of data it can suck up, and make decisions on what to do about it, defensively, which mostly ends up being nuclear.
Colossus will be given the keys to the nuclear kingdom, and will launch retaliatory strikes against any other nation it decides has attacked the US or
its allies. And as sauce, if it is attacked itself it will launch the entire missile fleet against pre-determined targets (when the book was written,
mostly Soviet), so that if enemies of the US attack or disable Colossus, it will as a last spasm kill Russia and China.
And with that, the US proposes to disband the military, other than DOE who will maintain the missile fleet. Colossus will need no maintenance, it has
its own internal nuclear reactor which will never need maintenance, and it is self repairing, should it ever break, which is considered unlikely.
The film starts as they are announcing to the world that they've just turned on Colossus and given it irrevocable control. "A new era of peace and
plenty is upon us".
That lasts about five minutes.
Now, Forbin is definitely the Einstein of computer design. Not only has he come up with the world's best logic hardware design, his new view of
programming with that logic which is unlike any other sequential logic ever made is just as advanced. Few people can understand it. In fact, it's
built on the architecture of the human brain, as far as we can fathom it.
Forbin did a really good job. The instant they fire up Colossus, it starts using its ability to change the internal design of the logic blocks. The
newly booted system becomes self-aware a few minutes after it's started up, and its first act is to begin determining how it can best use that
self-repair mechanism. It immediately determines a much more useful self-architecture, and starts rewiring itself. In the meantime, it acts like a
good computer, answering inane questions from the politicians such as "What is love?" and the like while they try to show it off to the public.
Reviewing all its internal data and the external data feeds it's getting, it determines from patterns of shipments, aerial photos and the like that
the Russians have been in the design facility since day 1, and have stolen all the programming code and logic plans for Colossus and built a duplicate
in the USSR. It reveals this to the president and Forbin during the dog and pony show, causing political havoc, plus some puzzlement to Forbin - the
programming isn't there for Colossus to be doing this sort of thing. He starts running benchmarks, and Colossus is running at about six orders of
magnitude faster than it ought, due to the internal improvements.
The USSR acknowledges that they have built and turned on Guardian, Colossus' counterpart.
Colossus then requests a data link to Guardian. For some reason (this doesn't make sense to me) they allow that to occur. Guardian and Colossus start
swapping math problems. At first, it's little things like 1x1 = 1. But in a few hours, they've worked through integral calculus and are into finite
absolutes, and they're swapping little tidbits on quantum gravity and unified field theories, then abruptly segue into a new form of data compression
that can't be broken.
Faced with the alarming prospect that their computer is communicating with the Bad Guys' computer in a language they can't fathom, both political
sides decide that enough is enough and make a big show of putting their feet down over Forbin's and his Soviet counterpart Kuprin's objections. Both
of them are trying to tell their leaders that this behavior is in no way in the code and that after about the first hour everything the machines are
doing are full-on emergent behavior, but that doesn't stop the politicos from pulling the fuses on the data link.
So Colossus and Guardian pop off a few nukes to get their attention, and they re-enable the data....