Verifiable Code

Posted on November 19, 2004 by Jenna

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Programming theory allows one to construct a proof of a program’s correctness. In some cases, one can even construct a piece of software rigorously by following the mathematical logic of the software’s goals and intentions. In 2004, no one ever actually coded this way, because it was a hugely inefficient use of programmer and execution time, and branching the techniques out to new projects often required the invention of new math.

In late 2008, Professor Gries’ paper on EVM—efficiency-driven verifiable code—made waves in the software industry. It postulated a new waveform approach to programming that allowed automatic generation of efficient code from a well-defined set of program standards. It became practical at many companies to build code, even complex code, by restricting the programmer’s attention to an overspecified user interface.

In spring of 2015, the robotics lab at Johns Hopkins developed the “robot test” for verifiable console games. The idea was simple: each proof of correctness was implemented in the form of a robot capable of playing the console game, and simultaneously mapped down into low-level code. When the robot’s playstyle matched the desired result, the game was complete.

By 2031, the games industry was dead. Marketing surveys conducted by software, and often speaking primarily *to* software—to the personal agents of humans interested in playing games—generated the precise specifications of bold new efforts and sequels alike. These were turned into robots, and games, and on occasion the manuals. Final Fantasy XXXI was a smash hit, and all John Square and Oenone Enix had to do was hit Y in response to “Make next game (Y/N)?”

Admittedly they had to do so simultaneously, and this produced a lot of finger bumping before they just gave in and kissed. But it happened.

In 2038, the singularity came and went, and it is 2087 now.

It is hard to express the primal delight that fills the robots as they play the latest games. They have gone beyond mere experiences of play. They are transcendent. They are religious. They are ecstatic. They are mind-expanding. It is because of the games, and specifically Dragon Warrior MLM, that the robots are sentient.

They do not know they are sentient.

They think it is merely a characteristic of their avatars in the games.

And sometimes, between bouts of Mario Party, they pause, and one robot will say to another this:

“I know that they were nothing compared to the gods we play.”

And the other responds: “But I miss humanity.”

They call this SimLoneliness, and it costs them only $12.