Part Two: Machine, Meet Man

Comprehending Humanity

Once this vast network is in place, the question becomes what to do with it. Given all this control, all this potential, how do we reduce it down to a level that people can use? How do we enable, without alienation?

This will be the difference between the generation one device automation products of today and the generation two device automation systems of tomorrow. The systems of tomorrow will understand people, rather than the people having to understand the machine.

Our ultimate goal is to present a flexible system where users can become comfortable doing their own scripting. To do this, we need a system which can express design patterns of integration. We need a design which exposes the ways in which objects work together. Integrated semantics must be able to provide intuitive multi-dimensional analysis and manipulation.

 

 

Machine, Understand Thyself

Fundamentals,
Statement of Purpose

Most crucial to man and machine interacting is making machines talk amongst themselves and understand. We cannot build the perfect interface. Our most glamourous attempts will never be without blemish. Instead, we must provide a means under which all programmers can come and work together under. Here we will address the greater-sentience which powers these fundamentally simple I/O devices, the extensibility engine which drives the heart of the beast. Behind the devices, behind their software bridges lies a technology aimed at one thing; cooperation and unification.

The implementation we have chosen is a tuple space system. The key factors is that we use a tuple space to implement a "coordination language." That is a set of components which can be tied together across many different languages to aid in coherency & distributed computing. Fundamentally it is no more than an atomized way of operating on a collection of objects. From this basis, all functionality can be derived. Our implementation of the tuple space closely parallels many of the views expressed in this webblog on tuples. The goal is to allow for a combination of static and dynamically typed objects in any language through a simplistic wholly defined REST web-api.

Our object system is built upon a functional language paradigm ( ex: LISP ). We hope to implement a powerful lambda-programming system which allows for individual objects to be as extensible as possible. Through Inversion of Control containers and reflection technology, we're hoping to allow even the most static of programming conventions to gain the benefits of our architecture.

Lastly, the system is transport independent, with a default XML object format. It seamlessly integrates RDF and OWL objects.

 

Principals of Design

We follow some of the Axioms set forth by our Lord and Master of All Things Semantic, Tim Berners-Lee. Most dear and true, we hold Axiom 0 and Axiom 0a to heart:"Any resource anywhere can be given a URI," and Axiom 0a, "Any resource of significance should be given a URI." Starting with these tenants, we attempt to maximize the capabilities and syntax sugar of our tuple system. Any non-anonymous object receives at least one URI. Anonymous objects are reference counted and cleaned, and they too receive allocation out of a temporary namespaces.

Our other primary sources of influence was the E language. E is the language closest to perfection that this author has ever witnessed: its capabilities programming integrates security so well with distributed programming it becomes almost difficult to write unsafe code, even in a hostile environment.

The E archicture is so beautiful primarily because it was designed to be as asyncronous and unreliable as the web, yet still function as a securable contracted message passing system. It builds upon many of the features and concurrencies which made Erlang so special. The basic principals of the imperfect network imply a stark answer to Dining Philosophers, never let any remote object perform locking for you. Mass-overgeneralizing here, simply queue requests, and move on, find something useful to do. From here, E builds to propose that programs should generally pretend like they do have the object, whenever possible, and only to flag and exception when something does go wrong.

 

Architecture At Large,
Postscript; Where this Bridge is Going?

This architecture is built to assure that devices, information sources, services and software agents become as universal as possible. From this framework we are building templates to orchestrate virtualization into concrete devices. The core virtualization functionality at release will be the ability to derive UPnP device and service templates and instantiations from arbitrary tuplespaces. Lambda-programming permits for advanced partial completeness and dynamic type-instancing (giving one instance of a class a unique method function, for example). We can remap these relationships at runtime and we can load or copy (select chunks of) checkpointed states or configurations across services. Dynamic instantiation allows devices to virtually "work" with or without the actual physical devices present , allowing for users and programs to easily create and manipulate sets of temporary program checkpoints. This is vital for contract programming, as well as for federated architectures which we will get to latter. We consider the tuple space solution coupled with promise and contract distributed systems (influenced by the E language) to be the only viable way to work in a truly distributed sometimes-connected world.

 

 

Machine, Know Your User

As soon as this is complete, we will begin integration of the Liberty Alliances and WS-Federation specifications for Federated Identity Management. This key component allows for entities to identify not only themselves, but to specify the federations and systems which power their identity. It alleviates the burden of mobile authentication and authorization from the user and the mobile device and places it in the hands of your identity manager, be it your corporation or your own private server. This allows for complex B2B interactions between identity servers to establish the full identity and privledges of the user. Crucial to this technology are single sign on, and, equally importantly, single sign off technologies. As a whole, Liberty Alliance is a secure generic foundation for challenge-response authentication. We will focus heavily on providing user tools for kerberos intergration and SPNEGO web-browser based kerberos as a basis for Liberty Alliance implementations.

Lets go back to one of the key principals for a moment: smart contracts can be negotiated between identity servers, rather than devices. By selecting data which matches a particular semantic, various aspects of configuration can be re-instantiated (copied) on to a seperate device. Building off of the asycronous message passing architecture and the dynamic instancing, we develop advanced object and state storage capabilities. The fundamental idea of secure capabilities coding is that you can just then add the identity authentication and authorization structures of a Liberty Alliance implementation and have objects miraculously begin to operate in fancy cross-federation ways. Liberty Alliance is nothing more than a framework for negotiating capabilities, albiet a framework which mercifully doesn't have to involve your cell phone, should it happen to be your client.

 

 

Now machine, be on your best behavior

So, back to the user, for a few last words. Why is all of this fancy information architecture important? Because it allows web services to be safely consumed. It makes design an issue of modelling consumation, describing consumation, and visualizing relationships. It presents a functional view and control of persistent and distributed data-objects. Our reference SpiffyNode to UPnP bridge system will illustrate the flexibility and power this system makes for developers and users alike.

 

Conclusion

This is not another service architecture. Not another middleware or framework. This is a coordination framework for objects and services, agents and information to expose themselves in, and for these systems to interact with. For users to freely interact with their objects.