PAUL YOUNG: I am very sympathetic to the time issue. It would be very nice to cut the time of producing reports in half. This said, there is a lot of policy made in Washington by the close of business today, and there is definitely a place for a group that can take a deep, measured approach and think things through very carefully. I think that this really has to be preserved while one speeds up the process because it is very easy to shoot from the hip. You see a lot of it.

MICHAEL NELSON: I should also say that there are reports that, although they are toned down a little bit, can still deliver a very powerful message if they are delivered personally by the people who helped write them. The other thing I would like to see more of is taking these reports and really pushing them in the policy process. People who get the reports often do not read them until somebody comes in the room and says, "Here it is. This is why you have to read Chapter five." This, I think, is something Marjory and the team have been doing more frequently. Many of you have been in my office; you have been in a lot of offices. I think the broader community needs to take these messages and get them to policymakers.

MICHAEL DERTOUZOS: I am not sure that I heard what I heard from Howard Frank. Did I hear sort of a Nostradamus thing? I would like to perhaps profoundly disagree or agree because I am not sure I got what was said.

I agree our field has become narrow. I see tremendous opportunities ahead. Some predict there will be 1 billion interconnected machines by 2005. I see 15,000 independent software vendor artifacts going for those machines. I see the entire theory of computer science moving away from the single machine and addressing what happens out there when you have billions of machines. We do not have Turing theories for this. We do not have systems theories for it. We do not have software for it. We do not have systems for it. All this has to happen. We tried doing artificial intelligence things and they did not pan out. This does not mean that they are wrong. It took 250 years to progress from steam to jet power, and in computing we have had only 35 to 40 years.

HOWARD FRANK: Mike, I think you are violently agreeing. The opportunities are there.

DERTOUZOS: But let me have my tantrum. I think there is just a wonderful world ahead, and I am certainly excited about it.

FRANK: There is a fantastic world ahead. It would be nice if we had some of the theory now.

DAVID NELSON: This is the perennial discussion, and it has taken place in mathematics and other fields. My personal view is that it helps to have very good academics working in the field, rubbing shoulders with those who are trying to apply it. In the Department of Energy, we are bringing together mathematics and computer science in jointly funded projects that are trying to do applications. There is, of course, a danger that you may degrade the quality of the research, and I keep my finger on it. I keep asking people who are managing those programs, and the answer I am getting is, no. This is invigorating and stimulating.

WILLIAM WULF: I would like to say just one thing about the issue of the time it takes CSTB to complete reports. I think this is a serious issue, and I keep pushing the staff about it. Part of the problem is internal to the NRC, and that is the part we have the potential to do something about. However, delays frequently occur at the front end. Sometimes CSTB does not get a contract for a long time. This has been a problem on the Ada study, where we are trying to do a fast turnaround.2 So I am going to put in a plug for why it is so important that agencies like yours have provided sustaining funds—core funds, as they are called—because those sometimes allow CSTB to get a quick start on projects.


Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council. 1996. Ada and Beyond: Software Policies for the Department of Defense. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

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