[e2e] experimenting on customers

Jon Crowcroft Jon.Crowcroft at cl.cam.ac.uk
Mon Apr 21 07:09:14 PDT 2008

I dont understand all this - most software in the last 30
years is an experiment on customers - the internet as a whole
is an experiment 

the fact is that any sufficiently large and complex system
that we cannot explain is necessarily not somethign where you
can say anythign certain about what you are selling - ok so
it isn't quite snake oil, but it sure aint like selling
tables and chairs either

so if we are honest, we'd admit this and say
what we need is a pharma model of informed consent
yeah, even discounts - i would happily run experimental
(e.g. ipv6 or tcp-multihome) code for a reduction in the
price of my internet access:)

indeed, our cousins in the gaming industry PAY people
to sit thru endless hours of fun on prototype games...
In missive <480C9C37.40509 at reed.com>, "David P. Reed" typed:

 >>Rick - I'm clearly not explaining myself.
 >>rick jones wrote:
 >>> "The network" (stack, intranet, whatnot) is much more 
 >>> critical/valuable to Major Co's customers these days then say in 
 >>> '88/'89 when I and my colleagues were able to drop VJ Congestion 
 >>> control into MPE/XL TCP "just because it is better."  It was also 
 >>> quite easy to demonstrate just how much better things were - and as 
 >>> part of that we (the developers at Major Co) were able to look at the 
 >>> research "those lunatics" :)  published without using our customers as 
 >>> experimental subjects.
 >>I was certainly not suggesting that any Major Company should experiment 
 >>on its customers.  If you read my point carefully, it was suggesting 
 >>that Major Company has gone much farther than that (as did AT&T).   It 
 >>is prohibiting or massively limiting experimentation *by* its customers 
 >>- which now includes the research community.
 >>And further, there are entities (perhaps not Major Company itself) who 
 >>believe that experimentation at scale is highly dangerous.  So 
 >>dangerous, it must be banned, blocked, and treated as harmful, no matter 
 >>what experiment is involved.
 >>This banning/blocking/raising alarms is part of a pattern that has a 
 >>side effect of requiring that all innovators must buy permission from 
 >>Major Company to do experimentation in a large area of potential interest.
 >>It also blocks new "start ups" that would compete with Major Company, 
 >>but I will leave that one for the political arena here.   I am focused 
 >>only on the potential for free scientific experimentation.
 >>Now if the risk were truly of the form where society suggests we require 
 >>level P4 confinement in biological labs (trenches with biopoisons around 
 >>negative pressure chambers, only biohazard suits allowed), I think the 
 >>crowd of "security zealots" who feel we must ban all variants of TCP 
 >>from all clients, and definitely ban non-compliant IP protocol numbers 
 >>might have a point.
 >>But such risks don't seem to be very likely.  Leading me to be 
 >>suspicious that a large part of the problem of Major Company's market 
 >>power and unwillingness to allow free experimentation with the lower 
 >>level of its network stacks is less focused on protecting *its* 
 >>customers, and more focused on extending control over a larger and 
 >>larger field of endeavor.
 >>In behaving this way, it is acting as many claim any profit-making 
 >>company should - not morally, not based on social good, not even based 
 >>on doing "good science".  Just profit for its investors.  This need not 
 >>be the case for its employees - many are very good people.   But they 
 >>don't get rewarded *by the company* for being good people.  They get 
 >>rewarded *only* for making more money for the investors.
 >>And while sad, I don't personally believe that Google, Microsoft, or any 
 >>company is capable of "not being evil", nor are they capable of 
 >>"supporting good science".  It's not their nature.  If you work for them 
 >>(and I do, since some of my work is sponsored by them), it's important 
 >>to accept that any focus on social good is one's personal 
 >>responsibility, and company requirements do not give one an "out" or 
 >>make one's work safe from criticism for not recognizing the limits the 
 >>company's requirements place on doing "good science" or "socially 
 >>responsible engineering".
 >>Our professional organizations (IEEE and ACM) place requirements on us, 
 >>*as professionals*, that go beyond our corporate masters' natural and 
 >>amoral state of greed.  The word "professional" is a class recognized by 
 >>society as having a legal responsibility beyond drawing a paycheck and 
 >>making money.



More information about the end2end-interest mailing list