Cancer analogy to Y2K : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

What do you think of this analogy?

In explaining the Y2K issue to someone, I pointed out that the problem with systems is not so much that individual systems will fail, but that they will fail to communicate correctly. Worse than that, because systems are built and integrated on the basis of a large degree of trust, they may not realize that they are not communicating correctly. This problem exists even (or especially) with repaired systems, since the various methods of repair are incompatible.

Although I'm no expert on cancer, isn't the situation similar? Just as a improperly integrated system can propagate bad data throughout the network, to be taken as fact and acted on before it can be retracted, so cancer cells propagate disease throughout the body without being recognized and attacked.

-- Jeff Mantei (, July 21, 1998


There are lots of fun analogies. I think of it like trying to kill all the roaches in New York City. In theory, it can be done. So why hasn't it happened? I also think of it like the food chain. Computer programs are at the bottom of the food chain. Someone telling you all the computer programs are going to fail is like someone telling you grass is going to stop growing. You don't care, you don't eat grass. It's only once you start to think about it that you realize that you won't be getting any more hamburgers. Y2k can't be made into an easily digestible explanation, people have to think about it. Ed's book is a great catalyst for thought.

-- Amy Leone (, July 21, 1998.

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