If You Need AI, You Need a Simpler System

Jon Udell had another post today about how hard it is for normal human beings to configure software---or, more accurately, how hard it is to fix configuration problems. Coincidentally, one of my summer students is finding this to be the hardest part of her project by far: making the code behave is easy compared to getting the network settings and XML configuration files lined up. It all reminds me of my reaction to this paper by Mickens et al. on using decision trees to troubleshoot config problems: if you need AI to get your system to work, what you really need is a simpler system...
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