[TUHS] Happy birthday Morris worm

Norman Wilson norman at oclsc.org
Wed Nov 13 08:24:10 AEST 2019

Dave Horsfall:

  And for those who slagged me off for calling him an idiot, try this quick 
  quiz: on a scale from utter moron to sheer genius, what do you call 
  someone who deliberately releases untested software designed to compromise 
  machines that are not under his administrative control in order to make 
  some sort of a point?


I'd call that careless and irresponsible.  Calling it stupid or
idiotic is, well, a stupid, idiotic simplification that succeeds
in being nasty without showing any understanding of the real problem.

Carelessness and irresponsibility are characteristic of people
in their late teens and early 20s, i.e. Robert's age at the time.
Many of us are overly impressed with our own brilliance at that
age, and even when we take some care (as I think Robert did) we
don't always take enough (as he certainly didn't).

Anyone who claims not to have been at least a bit irresponsible
and careless when young is, in my opinion, not being honest.  Some
of my former colleagues at Bell Labs weren't always as careful and
responsible as they should be, even to the point of causing harm
to others.  But to their credit, when they screwed up that way they
owned up to having done so, tried to make amends, and tried to do
better in future, just as Robert did.  It was just Robert's bad
luck that he screwed up in such a public way and did harm to so
many people.

I save my scorn for those who are long past that age and still
behave irresponsibly and harmfully, like certain high politicians
and certain high-tech executives.

Probably future discussion of this should move to COFF unless it
relates directly to the culture and doings in 1127 or other historic
UNIX places.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

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