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Re: intent of package seti@home

On Thursday 22 April 1999, at 13 h 30, the keyboard of Kevin Dalley 
<kevin@seti.org> wrote:

> The same does apply.  SETI@Home wants to know whether a given piece of
> data has been analyzed.  You don't need a Cray to send billions of
> "nobody's home message".

The concern is reasonable but John Hasler explained very well why hiding the 
source code does not protect you against such a sabotage. The problem of 
saboteurs is real but the solution of concealing the source code is not 
serious. Pretending that this is a case where the free software model fails is 
not true.

> Confirming false positives is easy, as you pointed out.  Confirming
> false negatives requiring reanalyzing all of the data using known
> software, rendering SETI@Home useless. 

"Useless" is too strong. There are several simple heuristics to limit false negatives:

- assigning each block to two machines (requiring different network addresses). It divides by two the speed but it is quite safe, specially if the blocks are assigned randomly.

- barring machines to send too many results in a too short time (difficult with proxies).

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