[E-Lang] Authority -- what is its dual?

Mark Seaborn mrs35@cam.ac.uk
Fri, 19 Oct 2001 15:11:55 +0100

"Jonathan S. Shapiro" <shap@eros-os.org> writes:

> > As I understand it, authority is defined as the ability to influence
> > the world.  Sensory capabilities are then regarded as not conveying
> > authority.  Information in general is also regarded as not conveying
> > authority.
> This is incorrect. In the context of information systems, authority means
> the ability by a subject to perform one or more operations on an object.
> These operations can either change the state or *detect* the state of the
> object. The first is what you seem to mean by "influence".

It seems that my different definition of authority has come from
reading Marc Stiegler's `E in a Walnut'.  It says ``Only immutables
that encapsulate no authority actually move across computational
boundaries'' in the context of what gets passed by copy and by
reference for remote method calls; I take this to imply that
immutables don't convey authority.  It says ``...it only imports those
parts of the Java API that have been audited for capability security
and found to convey no authority'' when talking about `import:',
referring to APIs like java.lang.Math, and it then says explicitly
that ``the Vector class conveys no authority''.

Do you regard immutable values (as well as read-only values that might
be modified by someone else with write access) as carrying authority?
What do you consider to be an operation? -- are operations required to
change or detect state?

         Mark Seaborn
   - mseaborn@bigfoot.com - http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~mrs35/ -

          ``I don't blame individuals, Elton, I blame myself''
                  -- Joe Royle