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Brain Surgery Robot Running Linux

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  • WooHoo (Score:3, Funny)

    by luckybob83 (530490) <.ten.ccytlef_MAPSETAHI. .ta. .mot.> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @09:59AM (#5093829) Homepage
    first reply, anyway though, imagine this. Your loved one undergoing brain surgery, half-way through the docter comes out and says, "Sorry, we had a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death)"
    • Re:WooHoo (Score:3, Insightful)

      yeah, Blue Screen of Death would be really appropriately named then...
    • Re:WooHoo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lunartik (94926) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:40AM (#5094135) Homepage Journal
      My brother once was anesthetized for lithotripsy to break up his kidney stones when the machine broke down. He was sitting there, basically unable to move his lower body, while the medical staff was placing ice on the machine, which had overheated. No techinicians were available, so eventually they sent him to recovery without having anything performed. Not quite BSOD, but it has to be unnerving watching people try to ice down a machine which they intend to use on your body.
    • What about dying from Linux's bad real time support. Not that windows is better, but is Linux really the ideal OS to run such critical applications on?
      • Re:WooHoo (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rmadmin (532701)
        How about a kernel panic. Linux isn't 100%. I'd trust BSD* more than Linux. And if we are going to play that game, I'd probalby trust Solaris more than all of them. Just my 2 cents.
  • by guacamolefoo (577448) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @09:59AM (#5093830) Homepage Journal
    I only want a human fondling my brain, thank you.

    GF.
    • How is a human more reliable than a computer? I'd trust a computer more. A computer doesn't have a bad day. A computer does not come to work drunk, a computer is either programmed bad, or has a hardware failure, and enough testing can severly reduce that
      • The same reason computers don't fly commuter flights is the same reason they don't do heart surgery. Sure, they might assist some of it, but when something unexpected comes up, humans are able to come up with more creative ways to solve problems.

        ~S
        • by dillon_rinker (17944) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:10AM (#5093935) Homepage
          But when the expected is occurring, a well-programmed robot is consistently better than a human. "Well-programmed" is the key. Of course, you still need an expert watching the machine because the machine can't tell whether what's happening is expected or unexpected.

          Overall, I'd say this is one more example of better health care at higher prices - you pay for the brain surgeon AND the robot, but your surgery is more likely to be successful.
          • by jlar (584848)
            One hospital in Denmark is currently making knee operations using a programmed robot. The success rate for the "robot surgeon" were far above that of human surgeons.

            In case anything goes wrong a human surgeon is standing by.
        • They don't fly communter flights? Maybe you didn't realize it, but commercial aircraft ARE computer controlled. Yes, there is a pilot, but he sits and monitors things.
      • Computers Require input to create output. We have yet to develop transducers to equal our human body, (visual, touch, etc).

        Computers are perfect, within tolerances.

    • I totally freaking agree. I want a human, with intuition and experience, working on my noodle, not some hacked code that might not like a video driver resolution, thereby causing me to get a lobotomy. This is a huge mistake.
    • by sk8king (573108) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:21AM (#5094011)
      Sorry, but I'm sure if I asked anyone I knew they would simply prefer no brain fondling at all.
  • by herrlich_98 (267669) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:01AM (#5093847)
    The Microsoft press release title will be...

    "Using Linux causes death!"
    • The other day I was told that a pace-maker some company is making will use an asynchronous processor. (I think)
      It scares me to think that the "Its usually pretty quick, sometmes it can take an infinate ammount of time to complete an operation but it will finish" philosophy is being tried out in pace-makers.
    • "Using Linux causes death!"

      While this was modded funny, this is exactly what the M$ spin-doctors will say. They will do anything to inject fear, uncertainty, and doubt into the those people who don't know enough to argue one way or the other. There are literally millions of people who will see a sentence like that above and have a few neurons flicker to be more skeptical about non-Microsoft products--even when there is no logical basis to do so. The human brain is very sensitive to stuff like this...that's why Microsoft has been so frustratingly successful at sucking in the masses. Why win based on merit, when you can win by bait-n-switch, sleight-of-hand, and non-sequitor?
  • Money (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:02AM (#5093853)
    If Linux messes up there's nobody to sue. At least Microsoft will give me more money to shut up.
    • Go ahead and Sue MS, but remember that thier EULA specificaly excludes using their product in matters of life and death. And for the most part so do most other EULAs. Check out Suns EULA for Java WRT exclusions.

      These EULAs actualy give Linux a boost. Since the issue of liability is removed (there is not one to sue if said product fails due to EULAs) you might as well use the best tool for the job.

      The big print givith, and the small print taketh away.

  • by Badgerman (19207) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:02AM (#5093855)
    Who wants his brain fondled by a MS product? Not me. Nor any other organ.

    Though we joke about how lousy MS is (I know, I have to use it constantly), using an OS system for something this vital really should be the open option. Programmers need direct access to the code, and one wants to keep things updated as much as possible - which the OS community provides.

    There's also been a breakthrough with an amazing robotic heart surgeon. (http://www.msnbc.com/news/837416.asp [msnbc.com]), and I expect more in the future.

    Which brings up the point about what software and OSes such important devices will run . . .
  • Surely if you're in your right mind you dont _need_ brain surgery, be it Linux, Windows, or steam-powered!

    Baz
  • Dunno (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:04AM (#5093871) Homepage Journal
    If you were having your wetware fondled, you'd probably care more about the track record of the application than the OS.
    Linux != crashproof, as my recent www.linuxfromscratch.org efforts demonstrated.
    Great to see Linux proliferating, sad to see it used for a completely gratuitous bashing.
  • ...to the term Kernel Panic.

    OOPS is not something I want a brain surgeon or his computer to utter.

  • Heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lebannen (626462) <slash.irowan@com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:04AM (#5093877) Homepage
    Anothe nicely misleading title... after reading the article, the robot is used to drill through the porous bone of the skull. This is no mean feat by itself, reducing a 6-hour drill to a 3-hour drill, but surgeons still have to feed the robot all information on blood vessels, nerves, and sensitive areas.

    That being said, it's still pretty impressive. And I thought dentists were bad enough...
  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:05AM (#5093885) Homepage Journal
    I was considering Laser realignment on my eyes, but when I went to talk to the eye doc, I found out his machine was running windows (NT IIRC).

    I left immediately.
  • by Gyan (6853)
    Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?

    Err.. the depressed and suicidal.
  • rm -rf / ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by EvilCabbage (589836) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:05AM (#5093888) Homepage
    $5 to the first surgeon to type that in.
  • sweet.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by grub (11606)

    "You're anurism operation was a complete success and while that was going on your surgeon discovered the RC5-72 key [distributed.net]!"
  • Right Mind (Score:5, Funny)

    by afrazer (152398) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:05AM (#5093894) Homepage
    "Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product"

    People generally have brain surgery because their mind is malfunctioning.

    • Re:Right Mind (Score:2, Informative)

      by ProlificSage (564094)
      People generally have brain surgery because their mind is malfunctioning.

      No, psychiatrists are used when the mind is malfunctioning, but the brain itself may not require surgery. Brain surgeons are used when there is something wrong with the brain that can only be corrected by surgery, such as a tumor. A condition such as that may not necessarily cause a malfunction of the mind, it could be causing physical symptoms instead, such as headaches, paralysis, etc. So, it is possible to be in your right mind and still require brain surgery. In which case, I'd feel more comfortable with Linux. The question, of course, then becomes, "Which distribution do you trust most to drill into your skull?"

      As an aside, Microsoft's motto for a similar product would probably be, "Where do you want to drill today?" :-)

  • Utility only (Score:3, Informative)

    by BuR4N (512430) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:06AM (#5093898) Homepage Journal
    "The programmers can then map the access path, program the robotic arm to hold the drilling tool and begin the surgery. The program is written on a Linux platform."

    Looks like the "setup" program is written for some Linux distro , no actual surgery is done using a machine running Linux.

    I would neither have Bill or Linus software poking around in my head, neither OS is deterministic or suited for an operation like that.
  • It is not Linux... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kitsook (516402) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:06AM (#5093900)
    ... matters most. It is the software that do the drilling, cutting etc.

    From the article:
    The speed and precision hinge on the software program written by researchers at NTU's department of mechanical and production engineering.
  • Er... (Score:2, Funny)

    by inerte (452992)
    Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?

    My PHB. It happened a long time ago...
  • by snabelmann (567292) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:09AM (#5093927)
    ... to let this thing operate on him if he were ever diagnosed with a brain tumor?

    Would any of you kernel hackers feel safe if your own code operated on your brain?
  • "We want to avoid distortions of facial expression," he added.
  • Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?

    This person did, at least for a while [startrek.com]

  • by Zayin (91850) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:16AM (#5093966)

    The team hopes to begin human trials by the middle of next year, following the completion of animal tests. Trials have been successfully conducted on cadavers.

    "So far, no animals have volunteered, but since we're using Linux we expect lots of penguins to sign up." said Dr Yeo Tseng Tsai. In a subsequent interview RMS pointed out that if they had used the correct term GNU/Linux, they might have had more volunteers from the Gnu community. "I told you so. That's what happens when you leave out the GNU part.", explained RMS.

  • Unm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:16AM (#5093970) Homepage
    I am not sure how comfortable with this i am, not becuase i at all think linux is prone to fail but becuase linux is capable of failing. Kernel panics still happen, like, once in a billion years. Linux just never struck me as an OS you need when, like, it is absolutely essential that absolutely nothing go wrong ever. Like when you are running some kind of control system for an airplane, or controlling a robot drilling holes in people's skulls. I don't think linux or even bsd would be a great choice in those cases, though i sure as hell don't think windows should even be considered given their track record in such situations [nd.edu].

    Aren't there any OSes about at the moment that are like all redundant and correctness-proven and stuff, like with NASA-like failure margins? Wouldn't it be better to be using those instead?

    Is this reasonable of me to say?
    • OS/390 (now z/OS) is probably closest, but that is because it has been around longer than any other OS.

      Not that I can imagine a mainframe operating on someone's brain.... :)

      Finkployd
    • by Xpilot (117961)
      Aren't there any OSes about at the moment that are like all redundant and correctness-proven and stuff, like with NASA-like failure margins? Wouldn't it be better to be using those instead?

      IIRC, Linux was used on some space shuttle. Does anyone remember that story?
    • by Telcontar (819) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @11:14AM (#5094373) Homepage
      If the OS with the program driving the robot "crashes", the robot will certainly turn itself off. (It is unimaginable that such a product would be designed otherwise.) So nothing dangerous will happen, the operation will just be delayed by a minute until the computer is re-booted.

      Having said that, one might go a different route and produce all the software needed (including the driver itself) using formal methods, if you want 100.00% safety (minus epsilon for human errors in the formal requirement descriptions).
    • I am not sure how comfortable with this i am [...] becuase linux is capable of failing.

      Tell me... what sort of system is NOT capable of failing?

      Answer: None. Your argument is pointless.
    • by mnot (71203)
      +1

      This is a fairly common disclaimer:


      [X] is not fault tolerant and is not designed, manufactured, or intended for use or resale as online control equipment in hazardous environments requiring fail-safe performance, such as in the operation of nuclear facilities, aircraft navigation or communication systems, air traffic control, direct life support machines, or weapons systems, in which the failure of [X] could lead directly to death, personal injury, or severe physical or environmental damage.


      There's a reason for this language... these systems (Aircraft control systems are the best example) are engineered on a totally different level; what we mean by "reliable" in this community is laughable in comparison.

      Unfortunately, researchers without this background will be using Windows and Linux for these applications more and more, and will be inevitably surprised when they kill someone. Either that, or they decide it's a calculated risk.

      *sigh*
    • Re:Unm (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tim Macinta (1052)
      This guy is absolutely right and it's frightening to read all the responses along the lines of "nothing is perfect, so it makes no difference that Linux is being used." For those of you who think that nothing bad could happen, please read up on Therac 25 [uoguelph.ca]. Perhaps the drill would "just shut off" if the power went off, but what if the user accidentally enters errorneous data which was not anticipated?

      The Linux kernel was almost definitely not inteded for use in brain surgery. Frankly, if I were contributing to the kernel I would be very disturbed by this. Beforehand, if there was a bug in the kernel, somebody's webserver might crash every few months or maybe some credit card numbers could be stolen, but now bugs could potentially lead to death. I don't think I could live with that. Software that's used in life and death situations requires an entirely more rigorous method of design, implementation, and testing than goes on with the Linux kernel and I don't think it would be very comforting to the kernel contributors to know that they are now dealing with life and death.

      Regardless of whether or not Linux would work here, the mere fact that they chose an OS that was not meant for a task like this would make me not trust the rest of their program. Apparently, there isn't a very wide understanding that things like this need to be designed differently. That's scary.

      PS - I am in no way bashing Linux - I still recommend it for nearly all situtations that aren't life and death. Follow the link in my sig if you don't believe me.

    • Re:Unm (Score:3, Funny)

      by SailorBob (146385)
      Aren't there any OSes about at the moment that are like all redundant and correctness-proven and stuff, like with NASA-like failure margins? Wouldn't it be better to be using those instead?

      Yeah, right! If it was done by NASA [slashdot.org], the operator would tell it to drill 2 millimeters and it would go 2 inches instead!

      OOOPPPS! He wasn't using that side of his brain anyways... He won't notice.

  • Funny thing is .. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:16AM (#5093973)
    I find it odd that even though the story has nothing to do with microsoft the company still gets mentioned. Will the linux community ever get over their penis envy of the more successful counterpart? I doubt it.
    • I find it odd that even though the story has nothing to do with microsoft the company still gets mentioned. Will the linux community ever get over their penis envy of the more successful counterpart? I doubt it.

      As do I, and for good reason.

      When Microsoft stops trying to take away people's choice as to whether to use their shoddy products, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, or anything else. Thus far their track record has been to denigrate and lie about Linux and its capabilities, to call it Unamerican to share software freely, to engage in virtually every illegal anticompetative practice known to man to keep it from being preinstalled on hardware for those who wish to purchase it, and now, finally, to leverage their desktop monopoly and the clout it grants them into redesigning the hardware BIOS (c.f trusted computing and Palladium) as a prelude to making it impossible, and under the DMCA possibly illegal, to run any non-Microsoft product on an amd/intel platform, then perhaps I, and others who dislike them, will feel some inclination toward cutting them some slack. But not until then.

      Add to that the well documented and appalling shoddiness of their products, which have left naval vessels dead in the water (literally, at sea), led to such a plethora of worms and viruses that the hysterical users of their shoddy products have taken to legislatively labelling computer system crackers as "terrorists", and the quip about not wanting a Microsoft product operating on one's brain is not only humorious, it is highly apropos. Ironically, on the mass level, Microsoft's product, and its astonishingly ineffectual security, has operated on most people's minds ... leaving in its wake bad legislation that makes many trivial forms of computer crime now punishable with sentances longer than that a rapist or murderer can expect and wearing the hysteria-insighting label of "terrorism."

      Until Microsoft ceases and desists in such behavior (anti-competative, thuggish and dishonest practices ... I think it is too much to expect them to stop producing shoddy products, though if there were any real human beings working there they would at least acknowledge responsibility for their incompetence and try to repair some small amount of the damage they've wrought) they will continue to get the disrespect, ire, and mockery they deserve, from Macintosh, FreeBSD, and GNU/Linux enthusiasts alike. And rightly so.
  • "Singapore has developed a robotic brain surgeon. The interesting bit: based on a Linux platform. Well, what else? Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?"

    A robotic brain surgeon isn't interesting? How is the fact that it is based on a Linux platform more interesting than that? Personally, I would have thought it would run on a custom OS.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:20AM (#5094006) Homepage Journal
    Can I help you:
    * Saw the skull open?
    * Find the front lobes?
    * Adjust the frontal lobes so that Microsoft products seem to be a good idea?
  • OK, so this app runs Linux. There's a saying in sports relating to how one reacts to a positive event,

    "act like you've been there"

    Meaning, if you're a defensive end and just tackled the rb for no gain, don't break out into your "we just won the Superbowl" dance. You just did your job, be happy yes, but realize you've only really done what you were paid to do.

    SO, when do articles like this start becoming meaningless. So SOMEcompany or SOMEperson SOMEwhere uses Linux to do SOMEthing. So what. If the DOD or Citibank chucks all their M$ stuff and goes Linux, hell yah, post that. But must we hear about every single little use (and this is a insignificant one at that). Just look at the "quality" of posts on this article, why, because there really isn't anything to say.
  • Who? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nochops (522181) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:25AM (#5094044)
    A lot of smart people, for sure.

    Think of it this way:
    If said robot surgeon screws up and renders me a veggie for the rest of my life, I'd rather have Microsoft with their untold billion$ behind it, due to the massive lawsuit I'd file.

    With a Linux system, who would be responsible, the open source community, or the red-zone closed source firm that developed the software? Either way, I'm sure they wouldn't have the amount of cash that Microsoft has on hand to make me happy.

    Granted, the ultimate goal is to -not- get my brain minced in the first place. That being said, this was an entirely uncalled for cheap shot at Microsoft. The fact is, Microsoft makes some perfectly reliable software, and developing for Windows does not automatically make one 'evil' or any other childish term thrown around here.

    This type of behavior is all too comon here on Slashdot, and immature pot-shots like this are one of the many reasons that Linux acceptance is not as great as it could be.
  • I think you're a little misguided on what is interesting. The fact that there is such a thing is interesting. What OS it runs is really of little consequence.
  • NO WARRANTY

    11 Because this operation is licensed free of charge, there is no warranty for the operation, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Except when otherwise stated in writing the copyright holders and/or other parties provide the operation "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed of implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. The entire risk as to the quality and performance of the operation is with you. Should the operation prove defective, you assume the cost of all necessary servicing, repair or correction.

    12. In no event unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing will any copyright holder, or any other party who may modify and/or dedistribute the operation as permitted above, be liable to you for damages, including any general, special, incidental or consequential damages arising out of the use of inability to use the operation (including but not limited to loss of data or data being rendered inaccurate or losses sustained by you or third parties or a failure of the operation to operate with any other operations), even if such holder of other party has been advised of hte possibilty of such damages.

    END OF TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  • At least if it ran MS Windows Brain Surgery Edition then you could try sueing microsoft when it went wrong.
  • What else? ... (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Per Wigren (5315)
    "Well, what else? Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?"

    There are more than Linux and MS out there.... How about QNX for example?
  • Linux may be reliable enough to run a decent internet server, or an embedded device on, but there's no way in hell I'd let this thing operate on my head.

    This is a perfect example of the wrong tool being used for the wrong job. I'm going to assume that in surgical devices, high reliability is a Good Thing(TM), and I think that's a safe assumption. Linux is a best effort UNIX clone, Linux is not a high reliability or real time operating system.

    Who wants to have the drill stuck in your head because the robot has a kernel panic, or even worse the drill bit just keeps on going through the skull and into your brain since the operating system thinks that doing some disk swapping is more important than letting the drill software run.

  • Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?

    Right. The normal case appears to be that people allow MS products to interact violently with their rectum, not their brains.

    Then again, this could be symptomatic of something about that brain, couldn't it?
  • The opening of Asimov's "The Bicentennial Man":

    Andrew Martin said, "Thank you," and took the seat offered him. He didn't look driven to the last resort, but he had been.


    He didn't, actually, look anything, for there was a smooth blankness, to his face, except for the sadness one imagined one saw in his eyes. His hair was smooth, light brown, rather fine; and he had no facial hair. He looked freshly and cleanly shaved. His clothes were distinctly old-fashioned, but neat, and predominantly a velvety red-purple in color.

    Facing him from behind the desk was the surgeon The nameplate on the desk included a fully identifying series of letters and numbers which Andrew didn't bother with. To call him Doctor would be quite enough

    "When can the operation be carried through, Doctor?" he asked.

    Softly, with that certain inalienable note of respect that a robot always used to a human being, the surgeon said, "I am not certain, sir, that I understand how or upon whom such an operation could be performed."

    There might have been a look of respectful intransigence on the surgeon's face, if a robot of his sort, in lightly bronzed stainless steel, could have such an expression-or any expression.

    Andrew Martin studied the robot's right hand, his cutting hand, as it lay motionless on the desk. The fingers were long and were shaped into artistically metallic, looping curves so -graceful and appropriate that one could imagine a scalpel fitting them and becoming, temporarily, one piece with them. There would be no hesitation in his work, no stumbling, no quivering, no mistakes. That confidence came with specialization, of course, a specialization so fiercely desired by humanity that few robots were, any longer, independently brained. A surgeon, of course, would have to be. But this one, though brained, was so limited in his capacity that he did not recognize Andrew, had probably never heard of him .

    "Have you ever thought you would like to be a man?" Andrew asked.

    The surgeon hesitated a moment, as though the question fitted nowhere in his allotted positronic pathways. "But I am a robot, sir."


    Full text at http://madogre.com/Interviews/Library/Bicentennial %20Man,%20The%20by%20Isaac%20Asimov%2014500%20word s.txt [madogre.com].
  • Just when I think Slashdot editors are finally edging to some level of objectivity (no quips about only booting into Windows to play Diablo, no references to Windows blue-screening) an article like this comes along and puts Slashdot back into sophomoric mediocrity.

    I expect garbage like that to be expressed in comments, but could you please limit the article summaries to not have any kind of bashing or hyperbole? Is this really too much to ask?

    I use both Windows and Linux. They both have their strengths and weaknesses (here's a hint: Windows doesn't just have to be used for games). The word Linux is in the mainstream now. Get over it. Accept this as another example of Linux entering the mainstream, be happy, and move on.

    I can picture some of you 40 years from now, at age 73, roaming your local city parks muttering jokes like "My watch doesn't Blue-screen, I guess it's running Linux," to anyone who approaches you to ask you what time it is.
  • Who says compiling a Linux kernel isn't brain surgery?!

    BA-DUM-CHA!
  • "Well, what else? Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?"

    What are you talking about? We get our brains fondled all the time [pimientolinux.com] by Microsoft.

  • Personally I think they should have used Windows for an OS. I mean, it would have already had a perfect interface. Minesweeper.

    Think about it. The little robot arm would go to incise and it would get:

    :O

    If it made the right decision, no problem. But if it does something like ...say, sever the wrong part of your brain out?

    :(

    I'm not sure they needed to re-invent the wheel here...

  • by Epsillon (608775) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:48AM (#5094198) Homepage Journal
    Free Brain Surgery Distribution, or FreeBSD for short? :o)
  • by dnaumov (453672) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:49AM (#5094202)
    I can already feel getting modded down, but I still have to voice my opinion on this. I do not think that chosing Linux for this task was a wise idea. However, I also wouldn't think using an MSFT product or any other "general use" OS would be smart.

    I would only feel comfortable if I knew that the robot that's about to operate me, runs on an "made just for this task only" OS that is developed by a high-quality team of software architects and engineers. It would be much better if the software was Open Source and publically avaible, so it could be reviewed and searched for bugs by everyone who wants to.

    Using a piece of software that was originally made to run on a desktop x86 PC (Linus Torvald's home machine) does not make much sense. Obviously Linux has grown a whole lot and it's useful for a LOT of things other than the desktop and server, but I don't think ANY "general use" OS should be doing the REAL mission critical tasks.
    • You should probably build yourself a minimal specialized and embedded linux installation on custom hardware, and see how different reality is from how you portray it. You'd see right away that all linux does for you is handle the gruntwork. You still need some pretty bright people in the loop, but they don't have to work 2 years just to get the thing bootstrapping itself.

      If you don't want to, that's fine, but please preface comments with "I don't really know anything about this, but I thought I'd open my mouth anyway."
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:54AM (#5094224)
    Critical life-and-death embedded stuff like this a whole different world than the desktop. You don't want things like virtual memory paging and so on. You need realtime guarantees from all system calls. You need everything to be completely understandable by a single person. In short, you don't want to be running an OS at all. You want something very small, very understandable, and very reliable. Consumer-type OSes are misplaced here. Linux is only marginally better than embedded Windows in this respect.

    One evening, for example, Linus is tired and doesnt merge a patch properly. No one notices this...until there's a surgical accident. The whole set-up is completely wrong.
  • ...some one who's tried it already and removed there left mind,
  • Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?

    Mongo like Microsoft ...hehe....hehe...hehe
  • Design a surgeon robot that runs Windows, then keep it locked up until Mr. Gates needs some minor/major surgery (it'll happen eventually).

    See if he trusts a robot running his own OS, that should be the nail in the coffin I would think.
    (errmmm not literally... I wish no actual HARM to Mr. Gates, he's kinda cute and cuddley anyways)
  • So what happens when the mod_ssl bug gets exploited and some 11 year old prick in South Dakota is running the thing?
  • by dmauer (71583) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @11:31AM (#5094507)
    Okay, maybe I'm just a nut.

    But when someone goes and builds a robot that performs brain surgery (or even, as in this case, parts of brain surgery), how on earth is "The Interesting Part" that it runs Linux?! I, personally, would suppose that the interesting part is that it Does Brain Surgery.

    "Hey, I just designed a program that can perfectly predict storm patterns across north america a year in advance!"
    "Yeah, well, if it runs on Microsoft, go tell someone who cares."

    -d
  • by CommieLib (468883) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @11:45AM (#5094610) Homepage
    Do they really need a computer to do this? I mean it isn't...oh, wait...never mind.
  • The team hopes to begin human trials by the middle of next year, following the completion of animal tests. Trials have been successfully conducted on cadavers.

    Unfortunately, none of the human patients survived the procedure. :P
  • Right Mind? (Score:3, Funny)

    by semaj (172655) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @12:05PM (#5094798) Journal
    Who in his right mind would like to have his brain fondled by a MS product?

    Well, if you're in your right mind, you probably don't need brain surgery! ;-)
  • Well, it'll impress the hospital administrator...
  • You may laugh, but RISKS digest reported [ncl.ac.uk] a computer that drove a laser for correcting shortsighedness by gently vapourising a shallow layer of the surface of the victi^h^h patient's eyeball was running Windows... Windows 95 at that! What's worse the technician casually hit ESCAPE toi clear the screen whenever a warning dialog popped up, without bothering to read what it said. I'm damn glad I've got 20/20 vision!

    Friends don't let friends have their eyeballs vapourised by lasers driven by Windows 95...

  • Pardon me, but wouldn't the "interesting bit" be that it's a frickin' SIX-LEGGED ROBOTIC BRAIN SURGEON?
  • Error: Brain0 ON FIRE!
  • I realize it'd be more expensive that having someone code and compile it, but if you're dealing with something that *has* to be precise, have as low of a probability of failing as possible and be able to restart as fast as possible in case of a failure, having it all on ROM would be the best bet, in my eyes.

    I mean, ROM instructions are pretty much ready to go once you flick the switch. it takes a bit of time to load an OS. In the operating room, seconds can be critical.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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