Re: software progress (RE: Hardware Progress: $319/GF)

From: Stephen Reed (
Date: Thu Sep 05 2002 - 09:29:55 MDT

On Wed, 4 Sep 2002, Samantha Atkins wrote:

> I have seen studies that say that a team of good Lisp coders can
> get 20 times more done than a comparably good team in Java, C++
> or C# in equal time. If this is even approximately true then
> any savvy project should forget about *popular* languages and
> grab such an overwhelming advantage.

At Cycorp we program Cyc in SubL which is a Subset of Lisp, using Franz
Allegro Lisp on Linux with Emacs as the IDE. For deployment we translate
the SubL code to C and then produce an executable with gcc. Because we
also use java for interface code, I am in a position to compare the
relative productivity of lisp and java.

I believe that lisp is somewhat more productive when extending the
behavior of an existing server system. Java is more productive if you can
re-use third-party libraries to accomplish your requirements.

I expect the issue of programmer productivity to be moot if we can fully
develop the potential of what I have dubbed "Cognitive Cyc".  A future
Cognitive Cyc, having knowledge of its algorithms and the ability to
plan/explore new behaviors, will in my imagination obviate the need for
hand-coding procedures.  Rather, the developers will teach Cognitive Cyc
algorithms and heuristics from which its code can be synthesized.
I emphasize that Cognitive Cyc is now little more than a slide
presentation, yet it includes ideas from Friendly AI as well as everything
I think that Cyc currently omits from GOFAI:
1. Hierarchical Control System
2. Fuzzy Logic
3. Reinforcement Learning
4. Causal Goal Deliberative Behavior
5. Induction
6. Abduction
7. Behavior Synthesis (action planning bottoming-out in interpreted
actions or code generation)
8. Decisions via Bayesian Influence Diagrams
9. Reflective Knowledge (of Cyc's own architecture, implementation, state
and behavior)
Stephen L. Reed                  phone:  512.342.4036
Cycorp, Suite 100                  fax:  512.342.4040
3721 Executive Center Drive      email:
Austin, TX 78731                   web:
         download OpenCyc at

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