Part 2: Beginning

April 21, 2022 [Beginning]

Doomsday Machines claim their first victims.

Part 2: The Beginning

In the beginning, we thought that moving to digital systems would usher in a new era of speed and reliability. In reality, it has started a dangerous and accelerating decline due to the failure to see software engineering as an actual engineering discipline.

Engineering disciplines have:

  1. Accountability
  2. Standards
  3. Responsibility to the customer

When a bridge or a building falls down, it dominates the news cycle. Investigations are started to find out how this could possibly happen and eventually criminal charges may be brought due to the negligence of the engineers that caused such a tragedy to occur.

In software, multiple systems fail every day. While users might be annoyed, no really talks about lawsuits, even in the midst of their frustration and rage. This is likely due to how exteremly common software failures are in today's world. It's also due to the complete abdication of responsibility of software companies and developers

Therac 25 (5 dead)

The original doomsday machine that killed 5 people via massive, acute radiation overdoses.

Patriot (25 dead)

Turns out that details matter. A small mathematical error multiplied by very large numbers can lead to deaths.

The Patriot Missile system suffered from the effects of the IEEE 754-2019 - IEEE Standard for Floating-Point Arithmetic. Floating Point Math when specified in this way, has errors, those small errors multiplied by big numbers become big errors.

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