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Intelligent Machines

Special Report: Software Goes Extreme

PC legends Charles Simonyi’s and Mitch Kapor’s upstart ventures aim to create software that does what you want it to do and never crashes. Our exclusive report brings you to the front lines of the new software revolution.

Charles Simonyi and Mitch Kapor invented the software that helped kick-start the PC revolution. Now they’re at it again, investing their fortunes in ventures aimed at finally creating programs that do what you want them to and never crash. In a future envisioned by these iconoclasts and a growing body of companies, including IBM and Sun Microsystems, programs repair themselves, and the desktop metaphor is replaced by computer interfaces that put information at your fingertips depending on what job needs doing, not what application you’re running.

The days when it was feasible to build a bridge, trade a stock, or prepare a report without software are long gone. But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for today’s typical applications, which have an infuriating tendency to fail when we need them most. Indeed, it’s hard not to share Kapor’s view that the average software user “really gets screwed.” And once you’ve read what he and his fellow radicals plan to do about that, you may share their impatience. Welcome to the new software revolution.

Everyone’s A Programmer
Software is collapsing under the weight of its own complexity. Charles Simonyi’s simplicity solution: Let programmers design code and leave the details to computers.

This story is part of our November 2003 Issue
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Trash Your Desktop
Mitch Kapor’s new interface will put all the information we need to manage our digital lives at our fingertips.

Extreme Programming: The Zero G Experience
How a software company saved itself by overhauling its development process–and trusting its engineers’ instincts.

From Artificial Intelligence to Artificial Biology?
The ultimate goal for programming: software that heals itself.

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