Synopsis

'The promise, the limits, and the beauty of software'.

Within this generation, software has changed the way that individuals collaborate, organizations do business, economies operate, and cultures interact.

Software-intensive systems can amplify human intelligence, but they cannot replace human judgment; software-intensive systems can fuse, coordinate, classify, and analyze information, but they cannot create knowledge.

Although software offers seemingly limitless promise, there are some very real limits to what software can do. Not everything we want to build can be built: there exist pragmatic theoretical and technical limits that make software development hard, if not in some cases impossible. 

Furthermore, not everything we want to build should be built: there exist moral, economic, social, and political limits that govern human industry.

Software-intensive systems are perhaps the most intellectually complex artifacts created by humans, and while the majority of individuals in the civilized world rely on software in their daily lives, few of them understand the essential complexity therein, the labour required to create such artifacts, and the beautiful and elegant chaos of their architecture.

The presentation examined the promise, the limits, and the beauty of software, and offered conclusions drawn from the last 60 years of software and expectations and cautions for the next generation.