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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

Joe Wreschnig wrote:
> > By a _specific_ Turing machine, that is.
> > 
> > > Any stream of bits can be not only be decided
> > > by a Turing machine, but can also be a Turing machine itself. It just
> > > depends on what encodings you pick (and, you can write programs to
> > > automatically generate appropriate encodings...)
> > 
> > That's why I wrote "actually existing interpreter". You can't decide
> > if some bit stream is an executable without defining the execution
> > environment.
> On the contrary, I can -- any bit stream is executable. Thus, I have
> decided it.

You claimed it to be, at best.

> > > I think, anyone who has studied CS (more specifically, the theory of
> > > computation) will eventually come to the conclusion that all bit streams
> > > are software.
> > 
> > Yes, this is implicit in my definition attempt above.
> By your definition, it would be okay for Debian to ship, say, any APL
> program, regardless of the license,

"regardless of the license" is obviously wrong.

> since we do not have an execution environment for it.

Then Debian has no reason to ship it, AFAICS, but that's a different

> You might respond "Debian doesn't have it, but one does exist". So how
> far "out" from Debian does one have to point before it stops being
> software and starts being data? Programs written for GNU/Linux? Programs
> for currently running computers? All programs ever written?

It's a program if there is a usuable interpreter in your environment.

> All programs that will ever be written? If we don't accept this, then
> "data" can suddenly become "program" when an interpreter for it is
> written. By this, all the LISP code written before the first LISP
> implementation was data, and suddenly became a program when a LISP
> interpreter was implemented?

Before that date, it clearly wasn't executable. You may want to call
it a potential executable, which is true for any bitstream.

> This is nonsense; the property of being a program shouldn't be
> temporally dependent.

Why? Because you personally dislike the idea?

Without a fixed defined environment, it's almost always possible
to draw arbitrary conclusions about anything.

> Or is it enough for the execution environment to exist theoretically?
> Then again, all bit streams are data.
> There is no line, theoretically or practically, that can be drawn
> between "program" and "data". Please, go over the debian-legal archives
> for... an awful lot of the past 3 years. This has been discussed over
> and over.

Right, with the appropriate interpreter, the Linux boot logo .gif
becomes an evil program which kills all your harddisk's contents,
so better stop to distribute it.

By extension, you have now to file grave bugs against any arbitrary
bit stream in Debian, because it is potentially a harmful program.


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