REVIEW: "Terminal Logic", Jefferson Scott
- BKTRMLGC.RVW 20000529
"Terminal Logic", Jefferson Scott, 1997, 1-57673-038-7
%A Jefferson Scott jgerke@...
%C P. O. Box 1720, Sisters, OR 97759
%I Questar Publishers/Multnomah
%O Fax: 541-549-0260 information@...
%P 358 p.
%T "Terminal Logic"
This book takes as its theme the dangers of agent software programs,
known, somewhat loosely, as bots. The bots of the book start out as
characters in the games of an online entertainment system, but get
loose in the wider net world, and, of course, have no idea of the
distinction between the real and game worlds. In the beginning, Scott
does a pretty good job of defining what agent software, and bots, are
for or like. There is even a nod to the venerable ELIZA artificial
intelligence program, with a realistic, albeit somewhat simplified,
sample session. After that, however, the realism falls off
The bots do a lot of damage by taking over vehicles and appliances.
The possibility of program corruption is well known, so vehicles or
appliances that can have potentially dangerous capabilities would
either have read-only memory, or, more likely, a more sophisticated
system that would check for changes and "correct" them on the fly. If
you did have robotically controlled transports, it would be unlikely
that you'd put truckers in them, since the idea would be to reduce
personnel costs in the first place.
The household appliances described in the book are not those likely to
be first seen on the market. Software "intelligence" in appliances
costs relatively little, but the devices depicted seem to have robotic
arms and other hardware that, while undoubtedly useful, would be
expensive to develop and include. A laser fly swatter, on the other
hand, sounds like a really bad idea, and as for a laser disk drive, do
you mean a CD-ROM? On the whole, though, 2006 seems to be a lot more
advanced than 2005 was in "Virtually Eliminated" (cf. BKVRTELM.RVW).
(It's also a lot faster than anything we have now: it only takes
twelve minutes to get from the White House to the Caribbean.)
For a book based on network concepts and operations. the author's
grasp of network communications seems to be as tenuous as ever. The
intrusion detection system employed in the book is very poorly
designed. Spoofing is mentioned as going on, but nobody gets spoofed.
The bots in the book seem to go completely unnoticed by all the net
powers that be. In reality, bots would consume disk space, memory,
CPU cycles, bandwidth, and other resources, and would definitely get
attention. As usual, Scott seems to get email addresses and IP, or
system, addresses confused. And if the original system is isolated
from the net, then how is it that the original "goals.txt" file
continues to be accessed? A number of times, the book suggests that
certain systems do not "exist" from a net perspective: in other words,
are unfindable. This would rather eliminate the whole point of being
connected to the net. If a device is on the net, it has to have an
address, otherwise it simply can't do anything (other than generate
spurious noise). There is a mention of the file "robots.txt" in the
book, but in such a way as to demonstrate that the author is not
familiar with the robot exclusion protocol that is supposed to keep a
Web site from being overrun by spider bots and other HTTP (HyperText
Transfer Protocol) search software. (In any case, it's a voluntary
There are more simple hardware problems: software is somehow able to
throw protective covers off lawn mowers, make light bulbs explode, and
disable hardware overrides specifically designed to break out of
Once again, the battle scenes have nothing to do with the reality of
system security, security penetration, or protection. In addition,
putting military personnel with no computer experience in charge of a
data security "attack" is unlikely to succeed: military strategists
need to know, very well, the capabilities of what they have available.
GPS (Global Positioning System) works on a broadcast basis from
satellites, and do not have any relation to, or requirements for,
networks like the Internet. GPS information and weather updates are
data, not programs, so they could not present a likely method for
security penetration. Again, a buffer overrun is possible with
systems like these, but would be system specific and not subject to
immediate use. (Oh, and geosynchronous, or geostationary, orbit is
*not* 700 miles high. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know
Regina is kind of cute, though.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000 BKTRMLGC.RVW 20000529
====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
It is interesting to note that before the advent of Microsoft
Windows, `GPF' was better known for its usage in plumbing:
Gallons Per Flush.
http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade