Sunday, September 22, 2013

Government Auditors, Early Tale of the Internet

An Early Tale of the Internet - ". . . SRI International, where I was the director of the AI Center, was periodically visited by U.S. government auditors. One day I got a call from an internal contracts administrator telling me to expect such a visit– in other words, I was supposed to be on my best behavior. The government auditor soon appeared in my office, armed with a no-nonsense demeanor and a bulging briefcase. He pulled up a chair, pulled a file from his briefcase, and without preamble said in an authoritarian tone of voice, “Dr. Hart, it says here that you’ve received 2,493,786,916 packets of bits. Is that correct?” I certainly hadn’t expected that question, but I was on my best behavior, so I politely replied, “Well, I’m not sure of the exact number, but that sounds about right.” He made a check mark on his file. He then asked, “Were adequate procedures set up to inspect the condition of these incoming packets?” I was starting to get an inkling of where this was going. I thought there must be some error-detecting codes somewhere in the communication path, so I simply answered “Yes”. A second check mark.. . . . At this point I was struggling to keep a straight face, but I truthfully answered, “No sir, there was no tarnish or corrosion on any of the packets we received.” One more check mark. . . . He made a final check mark, stuffed the file back into his briefcase, thanked me and left. You can’t make this stuff up." (more at link above)

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