Monday, February 02, 2009

And you thought the STOC/FOCS deadline were pressure!

The James Bond Movie Goldeneye had the following scene which is typical of movies and some TV shows.

Scenario: A (good) female Russian computer programmer has made it really hard for the bad guys to do what they want to do. Boris is already working for the bad guys as a programmer.


HEAD BAD GUY: How long? (will it take to undo what she did)

BORIS: Two minutes... one minute.

HEAD BAD GUY: Guard! (he is calling over a guard who comes).

BORIS: I'm fixing it! (nervous)

HEAD BAD GUY: (to Guard) If he moves, kill him.


Boris was already on the bad guys side. Applying that kind of pressure seems counterproductive. Yet this is typical of bad guys in movies- they think that a threat of violence against a scientist already on their side will make them work faster- whether its programming or developing a nuclear bomb or whatever.

If the bad guy is trying to convince someone not on his side to work with him, then violence might make more sense. But even then, pressure may be counter productive. Better to offer the scientist a grant.


  1. >Better to offer the scientist a grant.

    Or a job, these days.

  2. clearly this bad guy was merely an adjunct or something and the tenured villains decided to employ the usual tactics

  3. I know this is a bit off subject but I am a graduate student at UNLV as well as a weekly math based podcast called Combinations and Permutations where we start with a mathematical topic and spin off onto as many tangents as we can. You can follow the previous link to the blog page of our podcast, search for us on iTunes, or take a trip over to our host site Give us a try I do think that you will enjoy what you hear.

  4. Contrariwise, I think such pressure is very very effective.