Bugs: What me worry?

We’re seeing more (and more frequent) outages due to software errors. This is partly due to technology becoming more pervasive and due in many cases to the mindset of “ship it now, deal with the bugs later”.

At some point there will be a tech catastrophe so large that people will start to question the way most software is written. Repeated outages at Amazon, Google and Microsoft and today at NASDAQ, although annoying, don’t have enough consequence to force this change.

Once we see computer systems responsible for many deaths, then we may start to take code quality seriously. There have already been deaths due to glitches in the Therac 25 and the Patriot Missile System.

I don’t know what the magic number is that will finally start a proper debate about software quality but, the Therac 25 killed 6 and the Patriot bug killed 28 and injured 98 more. Maybe it’s hundreds or thousands. My guess is the number is a lot higher than anyone would guess.

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