[ExI] y2k bug
anders at aleph.se
Mon Jul 14 11:21:44 UTC 2014
Harvey Newstrom <mail at harveynewstrom.com> , 14/7/2014 5:08 AM:
So imagine if these were not fixed and most spreadsheets, credit cards, ATMs, gas-pumps, web pages, home computers, and networking equipment all quit working on the same day. It could have been bad if they were not fixed in advance.
This is what intrigues me. How well can society handle time-correlated, widely distributed but disparate errors? We know that resilience to correlated errors is lower, and supply chains and other extended social infrastructures are vulnerable if there are enough breakages along them. But we also do not know how errors that could look like almost anything would affect the system.
The closest scenario is geomagnetic storms (c.f. http://www.lloyds.com/~/media/lloyds/reports/emerging%20risk%20reports/solar%20storm%20risk%20to%20the%20north%20american%20electric%20grid.pdf and the recent http://arxiv.org/abs/1406.7024 ) or perhaps EMP: one should expect temporally correlated, widely dispersed outages. In the case of EMP there might also be faults in potentially everything with an embedded processor: it is not clear how for example cars or complex systems like airports fare if there appears intermittent faults in a certain fraction of processors.
Spike's point is well taken: a lot of people made a big deal out of it, but went for the big drama model of what could happen. Even if one thinks that is likely, one should assign a higher probability of muddling through a society with hightech friction amped up.
Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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