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Vigil, the eternal morally vigilant programming language (github.com/munificent)
173 points by nikolasavic on Sept 9, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 48 comments

Deleting offensive code was an "accidental feature" of ghc at one point:


> The best ghc bug ever involved a dev version of the compiler deleting your source file if it contained a type error.


Vigil comes from Munificent, the principle developer of wren, an unironic language that fills lua's niche (portable c, embeddable, no dependencies), with a nicer syntax: https://github.com/munificent/wren

I believe he is also on the Dart lang team at google. He has a pretty awesome blog and is super insightful when it comes to programming languages. His Github projects inspired me to research language design further.

Yep his blog and books are great. Incidentally I started looking into Dart yesterday. Seems like a comfy language, more so than Typescript in my opinion.

And inbuilt concurrency through Fibers [0], which are co-operative threads on the VM.

[0] http://wren.io/concurrency.html

I made an automatic error fixer once in Powershell. When you load a module, it would catch missing commas between parameters, and update the module file with the missing commas. I want to extend it to catch many more common coding mistakes.

This sounds like the opposite idea, remove the function instead of repairing it. Very aggressive idea.

Replying to braveo's unfortunately dead comment[0]:

> I would be interested in the technique you used to do this. specifically, how did you get your code to kick off and check on module load?

Powershell has great error-handling, and all errors are stored in the special $Error variable. For missing commas, semicolons, brackets, and other punctuation, the errors usually have the line-and-column of the missing item.

So the function would just parse $Error and update the module file with the right item at the right location.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15212428

You get that this language is a joke, right?

From the docs -- "Eternal moral vigilance is no laughing matter" :P

Adopting this scheme might really lead to improved code quality.

Well yes. The empty program is 100% bug-free. I don't think any other language can guarantee that your code will be 100% bug-free.

The contract is to do something specific. If it doesn't do that then it's a bug. It will need to delete itself.

I would be interested in the technique you used to do this. specifically, how did you get your code to kick off and check on module load?

Jokes aside, semantically "implore" and "swear" are actually really good primitives for static analysis. "swear" is only dangerous because there's a chance it gets out of sync with the code it's swearing for.

Check out Eiffel if you want a serious version of pre/post conditions and invariants. Or any number of functional languages where the approach tends to be to use the type system for these type of guarantees instead.

You use this for high-level parts of the app. You drop down to HolyC for anything it can't handle.

HolyC is awesome.

Aw, Terry's YouTube channel was taken down. He did so many walkthroughs of HolyC and his dynamic programming engine.

Oh well, 353 videos were archived at least.

Thank goodness for archive.org!


HolyC: https://archive.org/download/TerryADavisTempleOSYouTubeChann...

Flight simulator: https://ia801506.us.archive.org/2/items/TerryADavisTempleOSY...

Why? Because of "offensive" language?

An archive of Terry A. Davis' YouTube channel before it was taken down / removed around 2017-05-18.

Due to copyright strikes not all content was available for download.

Sounds like copyright strikes. He had 1,140 videos uploaded. That's like burning down a library.

I lost an entire YouTube channel once. "TOS violation" was the only explanation given. No recovery option. It was almost entirely me playing instruments. No idea what the problem was. Absolutely no idea why they obliterated the whole channel. Surely not every video of me playing piano managed to violate the TOS. I wish there was a way to hold them accountable, but they're far too gargantuan.

Wow, that’s terrible. Anyone know if he still streams? I enjoyed his casts of walking through the HolyC source

Was he on Twitch? I'd follow.

I'd guess if he streamed on Youtube, his account is terminated so that's no longer possible.

I kind of want to go through the legwork of reuploading most of the 1100 videos and then giving Terry the username+password of the new channel. But I don't know if that will run afoul of Youtube's policies and I don't want to be banned for life myself.

(Archive.org snagged most of the 1100 videos, not just ~300. But some of them are just missing.)


There's a proposition to not only delete the code but commit and push the git repo its a part of.

That only works if it rewrites the git history and removes the function completely.

Distributed punishment. Gives a new meaning to pulling changes.

It seems unfair to punish a program lacking in free will.

Things that lack free will cannot imagine alternatives to their current reality.

Indeed. The one that needs to be punished is the programmer. I suggest burning at the stake.

You are implying/assuming that the programmer has free will. That is nonsense.

“There's no free will, says the philosopher; To hang is most unjust.

There is no free will, assents the officer; We hang because we must.”

―Ambrose Bierce

This is like the Calvinistic version of source code.

>any function that throws an exception which isn't caught is wrong and must be punished

It's not obvious who's to blame here, the caller or the callee.

Rarely is one at fault when two argue.

It is mostly a solved problem: http://thecodelesscode.com/case/6

I was actually kind of excited until I started reading the sample code and that it deletes code that has bugs. Of course this coming from the guy who went on a reddit rant about how not having 100% coverage is usually irresponsible.

>rant about how not having 100% coverage is usually irresponsible.

Well, that's because it is irresponsible.

So this is essentially a creative implementation of the contracts model from Eiffel. I like Racket's implementation a lot, which is coupled with its module system.

Likewise, users ought to be punished for making mistakes as well. If someone has a typo in a command on the cli, delete a random file from their home dir.

Alternatively: https://qntm.org/suicide

> I have invented Suicide Linux. Any time - any time - you type any remotely incorrect command, the interpreter creatively resolves it into rm -rf / and wipes your hard drive.

That adds a level of terror... Maybe somebody will add it to a tech interview. I mean, it's got a Debian package.

Alias ls to echo "Segmentation fault"

An early computer-based Nomic game (which I've forgotten the name of) had its proposals in the form of patches to the PHP for the game website. The way they handled buggy submitted code was to excise offending blocks of code until it ran again.

Why not:

    assert n >= 0
    assert result >= 0


Because those don't delete the offending code which must be punished.

Also, implore specifies the caller is offensive, and any function which swears a falsehood is offensive. The latter is like assert, but the former is like lifting the assert to the caller.

One is a requirement, the other is a promise. The promise "result >= 0" is necessary because the compiler may not be able to prove that on its own.

Can't wait until this is noticed by a manager with a PhD from protestant theology and decided to be used/implemented :D

Referential self-punishment. Self-removing code during runtime based on a predestined moral functor.

This is so great.

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