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Old 01-24-2010, 05:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Different Hardware and Different Operating Systems - Compatible?

I wonder if anyone could answer this for me?

Let's say that I have a fairly bog standard computer, something like a Windows Vista Basic desktop PC or Laptop that has pretty much average specifications.

And now let's also say I have a top of the line advanced robot (such as one of those robotic butlers in Japan). Now this robot runs on its own operating system, one that was designed by its developer specifically for this machine.

Now, here's the question:

If someone (and let's say this person is a technical god who knows everything there is to know about computers and robotics) wanted to transfer information from the robot to the computer using only a cable (and let's say this cable has been modified so it is compatible with the two systems) and no special software at all, would it be possible?

What I mean is, could that person access things like the robot's operating code without having any software that was specific to the robot?

Would it be possible to access the information at an extremely basic level? I already said the two systems are not compatible, but what if the user wanted to access the information in binary form? I imagine that doing so would result in an extremely long winded process of trying to translate the binary into more useful information, but I just want to know if it would be possible.

If you have taken the time to read this then thank you, and if this post is in the wrong section then please forgive me.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Different Hardware and Different Operating Systems - Compatible?

Given the extremely rare and long shot that this person would be able to not only code, but to be able to crack the protection of the other OS. Yes it could be done.

Could is the key word. As it would take nothing short of a technical god to do it. Not only to be able to code something for the Original OS to be able to transfer the information, meaning create a program, but to be able to hack the other OS in order to get access to the code and kernel.

If the Os used in, per your example the robot, was open source then it wouldnt be so tough as that information is free to anyone. But lets switch it and say that the robot makers use OS X. Now that is a closed source and they would have to hack every bit fo protection on there just to gain access, then hack it more to get the basic level code your talking about.

So if every single circumstance could be met then yes it would be possible.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hello there and thank you for the reply.

This topic is an interesting one for me. The reason I asked the question in the first place is because I am currently editing a science fiction manuscript, and without going in to too much detail, the hero of the story eventually finds himself facing this problem. Now I am aware that this is clearly not a forum for creative writing, but this story, while it is sci fi, is heavily based in the real world (albeit a world that is several decades more advanced than our own).

I came here asking this question because I want this story to be as authentic as possible, personally (and I'm sure most of the members of this forum will agree with me) I do not like the use of Deus Ex Machina to just explain away things that are clearly impossible even in a sci fi setting (for an example of what I mean, just watch any episode of the most recent series of the UK's Doctor Who).

So I suppose if I rephrase my initial question it would be:

Would you find it an acceptable occurence if a character in a science fiction story were to take a personal computer (from a period of time perhaps ten years in our future) and use it to interface with an advanced robotic system (from perhaps 20 or 30 years in our future) and successfully be able to access information from that system without the use of any specialist software, other than a program used to write programming code?

I realise that many of you may read this question and think it is ridiculous. Of course no-one can really predict what will happen with our technology in the years to come, and you may even be thinking "If it's sci-fi, who cares?". But as I have said before, I hate ignorant writing that just contains shortcuts around problems that the writer couldn't be bothered to properly research.

Again, if you have managed to put up with my ramblings then thank you and I apologise if you find the presence of this thread in a technical forum to be inappropriate.

I just realised that this question might work a lot better as a poll, but for some reason the site won't let me post a thread with a poll attached to it.

Is anyone else having the same problem?
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Different Hardware and Different Operating Systems - Compatible?

So basically what the story is telling is what we see in just about every episode of Stargate. Be it SG1, Atlantis or the new Universe. Since that is basically what they have done. Used current technology (PC's) to interface with machines and devices that are not compatible. (The Ancient ships and city of Atlantis)

In that case i would have to say yes. Due to the fact that it has been done. I already gave 1 example of it used above. Lets not forget Matrix, iRobot and so on which all are the same thing.

If they want to be truly original, then they should come up with a idea that hasnt been used for over 10 years now. SG1 ran for 10 years and began in 1997 when this idea originated. So no it isnt a stretch for people to believe it. As Stargate is one of the bigger names on SyFy network. I would go back to the author and bring up these points and ask how their story is different than those already used.

You cant add a poll as you already posted the topic. It would have to be done by a Mod or Admin now.
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Different Hardware and Different Operating Systems - Compatible?

Thank you again for your quick reply (oh and just to clarify, I did attempt to create a new topic with a poll, but when I clicked post I was just sent back to the forum for some reason. But no matter).

What you mentioned is exactly the problem I have with science fiction nowadays. I don't dispute the fact that Stargate was a successful show, but I was never truly enthralled by it because every episode was layered with so much faux science and made-up technical jargon that made absolutely no sense. I realise now that Stargate would have been a better example for the kind of Deus Ex Machina I want to avoid.

Now I think about it, the scene in the book in which this event occurs currently reads much like a scene of Stargate. We want to get away from that, to make it seem more real. And what's most irritating about this is that the event takes up only a few dozen words on the page, it is by no means the basis for the whole story.

Finally, I would like to say thank you for your input. You reminded me of exactly the kind of story we do not want to create. The writing of this post seems to have cleared my mind somewhat and I have already devised several new ideas for how we may get around this problem. This discussion has been infinitely more useful than the habitual floor pacing and muttering to oneself I would have employed otherwise.
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Different Hardware and Different Operating Systems - Compatible?

Well the trouble your going to have is that you want to set this in the future. Right there is the problem. As you already stated, who knows where we will be in the future. So how can you say that we will have robots to try and communicate with. So where does that leave the story?

How can you make it more real, when you have no idea what real will be in this future your trying to create. So there are many hurtles your trying to cross all while trying to "keep it real".

I will look into the poll stuff. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Different Hardware and Different Operating Systems - Compatible?

You don't need to worry about world building, we've been in this business for a long time and we have quite an extensive backstory laid out. This whole thread has stemmed from one minor problem that the author was having with a scene involving his character, who was trying to transfer information from one advanced piece of technology to one that is not so advanced. In this particular world, the robot is not so much a robot but more of a specialised kind of automaton that has been designed for a particular task. I can't really tell you any more because I've been sworn to secrecy, but I just used the term robot to keep my post from being longer than it already is.

Anyway, I think the problem may have been solved now. I managed to convince the author that perhaps trying a different approach would be a good idea. And I must say, that together I think we might have cracked it. I would like to tell you how but alas, I don't think the writer or the publisher would appreciate me giving away any more of the story. But then, if you are in to sci fi novels at all, you should keep your eyes peeled for new releases in 5-6 months time, you might just recognise ours.

Once again, thank you for your time, it's always nice to meet someone on the internet who is genuinely helpful.
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