### The Theory of Probability & Dominoes, Anyone?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

For those of you who are still trying to calculate the probabilities of total societal collapse, log onto this site and first read "A "Circle of Dominoes": http://www.y2knewswire.com/dominoes.htm

Then move on to the "Y2k Domino Engine". (The thread to the 'Engine'in contained in the above article):

http://www.y2knewswire.com/Y2Kengine.htm

You can play with the probabilities to your hearts content, but none of the results are going to please. Challenge the assumptions and put in your own numbers.

It sure isn't perfect, by a long shot, but what the hey! At least you can sharpen your math skills, while driving your DGI friends absolutely crazy! Sound like fun?

-- Bob Walton (waltonb@kdsi.net), December 14, 1998

Yep - just put in a one percent fail rate for each category and see what you come up with :)

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), December 14, 1998.

This Doomsday Calculator has been discussed at length in a thread now buried in the archives -- Newswire's Y2k Domino Engine

I copy my post to that thread on Dec. 6:

Since I first looked through this site something's been nagging at me. "Something's wrong here," I kept thinking. But what?

Like others, I ran through the smallest possible numbers, setting my estimates for all items first at 1%, then, successively, at 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5%. The calculated probabilities of collapse corresponding to these estimates, in order, are 15.7%, 29.1%, 40.4%, 50.0%, and 58.2%. This seems extraordinarily excessive!

Today I think I see the flaw here. Note that the input parameters are for failure. But this is unqualified failure. This "failure" is implicitly taken to be FINAL.

We've all experienced failures -- your furnace breaks down on a winter night, your car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, your shoelace breaks on the dance floor-- whatever. But "failures" are not necessarily permanent. Assuming that permanence is an enormous and unjustified logical leap.

It's comicstrip fiction to think that in any of the "failures" this Doomsday engine postulates, everyone involved will simply stand around wringing their hands. Somebody will get to work to find out what failed and make it work again.

Some efforts won't succeed, but others will. Some will take longer than others, possibly much longer. Obviously some service interruptions are likely. Some, possibly many, of these interruptions will be severe, or long-lasting, or both. The cumulative impacts very likely will be severe, but not necessarily so in all locations, not necessarily so in all systems.

No conceivable estimate can specify, quantify or take into account all the myriad unknowns in this situation. Which tells me that this "Doomsday Calculator" is a most imperfect engine.

Therefore -- I've decided not to beam myself up to the first comet in the neighborhood.... (that's a joke, guys...)

It's still possible to conceive of TEOTWAWKI -- but this calculator can't be used to support that notion.

I'd like to add that no algorithm can take human initiative and creativity into account. See my follow up post on that same thread on Dec. 7.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), December 14, 1998.