What did Ngnghm think of Urbit? Some elements in Ngnghm’s descriptions of Houyhnhnm computing were remindful of the famous Martian system software stack Urbit: both computing worlds were alien to Human Computing; both had Orthogonal Persistence; and both relied heavily on pure deterministic computations to minimize the amount of data to log in the persistence journal (as contrasted for instance with the amount of data to manipulate to compute and display answers to end-users). What else did Houyhnhnm computing have in common with Martian software? How did it crucially differ? How did they equally or differently resemble Human systems or differ from them? Ngnghm took a long look at Urbit; while he concluded that indeed the three approaches were quite distinct, he also helped me identify the principles underlying their mutual differences and commonalities.
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My previous discussion with Ngnghm left me baffled: I could somehow understand that Houyhnhnms don’t have the concept of an Operating System Kernel; and I could vaguely guess how each of the many aspects of a Human kernel could correspond to a family of software patterns in a Houyhnhnm computing system, at various levels of abstractions. But while I could visualize these patterns individually, it was less clear to me what the big picture was when these smaller compile-time, link-time and runtime abstractions were put together. So I decided to approach their software architecture from the other end: what do end-user applications look like in Houyhnhnm computing systems?
I was baffled again, but not surprised anymore, to find that Houyhnhnms don’t have a notion of application. Granted, there are simple cases where Human applications have direct counterparts in Houyhnhnm computing systems. But in the general case, Houyhnhnms don’t think in terms of standalone applications; they think in terms of platforms that they extend with new functionality.