PPIG 2018 - 29th Annual Workshop
Phenotropic Programming?
Clayton Lewis
Abstract: In about 2002 Jaron Lanier began writing and speaking about phenotropic programming, in which programs aren't 'simulations of vast tangles of telegraph wires' but instead rest on'the interaction of surfaces', using 'pattern classification as the most fundamental binding principle, where the different modules of the computer are essentially looking at each other and recognizing states in each other, rather than adhering to codes in order to perfectly match up with each other.' Lanier thereby hopes to combat ' brittleness' of today's software, that makes software engineering 'Sisyphean'. These ambitions are consonant with ideas recently conspicuous at PPIG, as in Basman's (2016) paper, Building Software is Not a Craft. What has become of Lanier's vision in the last 15 years? This paper will review work that has been inspired by Lanier's ideas, and consider how further work may contribute to Lanier's goal of a 'convenient [and] cognitively appropriate starting point for human beings who wish ... to go on to build things'.