The mathematical engine of death and shutdown : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

For those who've run the y2k failure probability engine, if you applied that reasoning to the thousands of incredibly complex and delicate functions of glands, organs, bio-physiological interfaces and electrochemical exchanges in the human body, you'd have to conclude that nobody could ever live to be 5 years old - there are so many thousands of subsystems, each with non-zero failure probability, none of us should be alive.

By the way, why does skepticism about the most extreme y2k TEOTW scenarios automatically imply to the InfoDoomers that y2k skeptics are saying preparation and self-sufficiency are bad ? No such implication! Grow your own food, arm yourselves to the teeth, split another cord of wood, spit in the face of tv-doped corporate consumerism. That's what I'm doing, I live in an area with an upcoming 9.5 earthquake.


-- Runway Cat (, January 10, 1999


Whereabouts are you, Runway Cat? We just found out today at our NET (FEMA at the local neighborhood level) class that we're due, two years into overdue, for a possible 9+ subduction zone earthquake. Yep, the Cascadia subduction zone is bumping up the Pacific Northwest coast at a rate 10X faster than previous years. The evidence keeps pouring in ... nobody refuting it anymore. Facts pointing to worse + worse scenario. Are you a fellow Cascadian?

Ashton & Leska, duck cover & hold

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xx

-- Leska (, January 10, 1999.

RC, the way that I look at it is that indeed, in any single individual, there are "thousands of incredibly complex and delicate functions of glands, organs, bio-physiological interfaces and electrochemical exchanges". This network of interfaced systems is very dynamic, and will normally adjust itself when needed -- to grow old, heal a broken bone, etc. Any external change to this sophisticated network, such as altering blood pressure for instance via medicine, must be evaluated carefully so as to get just the right dosage of the right medicine, otherwise things will break down in a hurry. Note that making changes to the individual to be able to accept an arbitrary dosage of blood pressure medicine is obviously not an option.

The global state of our computer technology is static, not dynamic, and any changes need to be done by programmers. With Y2K, its going to be like a huge dose of medicine is going to be induced that is going to affect an entire individual's complex and delicate structure, altering glands, organs, etc., etc. If there were only enough time, all the components could be changed ahead of time to accept the medicine -- but there is not enough time. And thats how I spell you-know-what.

-- Jack (, January 10, 1999.

First of all, none of you have recognized why this analogy is laughbaly ridiculous.

As far as the 'systems' of the human body are concerned, they are healthy. They are no 'already broken' and merely waiting to fail. Software , hardware, firware, etc is ALREADY broken. They are ALREADY infected with a cancer, a fatal cancer.

The the comparison of the projection of the probability of breakdowns between a HEAlTHY organism and a machine that is ALREADY terminally ill, unless remediated, is absolutely ludicrous, but of course it will escape most people.

-- Pau Milne (, January 10, 1999.

Leska & Ashton: I'm a Cascadian ! Can see 'em from the window as I type. Shall we secede ?

Jack: thanks, those are sensible comments.

Paul: pathogens are continuously present throughout every "healthy" organism, at all times.


-- Runway Cat (, January 10, 1999.

Dear Runway Cat, fellow Cascadian, greetings!

The question of secession is bandied about, and I think we will be our own entity within the next 50 years. Too special a geographical area with unique interests/needs to not band together. Yippee!

The Cascadian subduction zone, with its erupting volcanoes, earthquakes, lush temperate rain forests, awesome topography, and fertile valleys, extends from Cape Mendocino in Northern California through Vancouver, British Columbia. The world's largest under-ocean volcano is currently erupting off our coast. Population density is sandwiched between the Coastal Range and the gorgeous majestic Cascades. Long live Cascadia, the most beautiful, enchanting swath of land on Earth!

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx

-- Leska (, January 10, 1999.

"For those who've run the y2k failure probability engine, if you applied that reasoning to the thousands of incredibly complex and delicate functions of glands, organs, bio-physiological interfaces and electrochemical exchanges in the human body, you'd have to conclude that nobody could ever live to be 5 years old - there are so many thousands of subsystems, each with non-zero failure probability, none of us should be alive."

RC: BIG difference buddy. As our humble politician friends Lloyd Benson once put it, I know the Body, the Body is a friend of mine, and our technological civilization ain't no Body. To see this, just note that you can slash your hand open and it magically sews itself up in a few days. But that's exactly how people think of y2k. "Hmm....sounds complicated....I'll just sit here and not think about it, and it'll solve itself."

God made the body. Man made JIT, automated railroads, SCADA, and electronic promise to pay.

-- a (a@a.a), January 10, 1999.

Run Away Cat, it's simple. Apples and oranges. Or more precisely, berries and watermellons.

The human body was not designed by humans, but by evolution of mutation (or if you're religious, by God, not man). Evolution made it so you have an intricate system of backups for vital functions; lungs, kidneys, extremities; you can survive with only one of those. In same way, the brain is self-repairable in that it can relearn functions in different parts of the brain. The heart has ability for colateral circulation to provide oxygen when main vessels are blocked. The human body is indeed infinitely more complex than the global information system. And more resilient.

-- Chris (, January 10, 1999.

Again runaway cat, you compare apples and oranges. To say that there are pathogens present in a body is not the same thing as to say that it has a fatal disease present. The computer systems have a FATAL disease PRESENT now. Not pathogens that are normally filtered out and taken care of in the normal course of bodily function, a FATAL cancer.

You are wildly offf base and clutching at straws because of your ludicrous analogy.

-- Paul Milne (, January 10, 1999.

Humans live for more than 5 years because they,God or evolution ,have been prefecting the human body for millions of years. Get real!

-- maggie (, January 10, 1999.

Perhaps you all are correct in rejecting this analogy. I'll make 2 more points.

1. the focus of the analogy was more to the y2knewswire probability engine than the wider issue of y2k overall. If you made a clone of the newswire engine, substituting human-body questions focusing on each little gland and organ's function, you could quite realistically assign a 1% chance of failure to any organ or gland at any time, which by the engine's reasoning should lead to cascading biological failure and death in short order. <2> 2. Though it appears ludicrous, I wouldn't be so quick to reject an analogy between our current interconnected electronic systems and a primitive biological organism. Systems today show many properties of primitive life, it just happens to be parasitic in nature (dependent upon, and perhaps debilitating to, a host organism), or maybe symbiotic if you are feeling generous. The system is certainly not static. I can provide references for this line of thought in current philosophy if anybody cares.

Meanwhile, like I said, none of this is meant to imply that you shouldn't order up another case of .308 ...


-- runway cat (RUNWAY_CAT@HOTMAIL.COM), January 10, 1999.

I think I see your point now RC. To that I reply that I do not put any confidence into the Y2K engine anymore than I would a crystal ball. It is an imperfect tool, devised by imperfect humans to attempt to bring understanding to what we are incapable of understanding in scope and magnitude. I trust my gut instinct much more than this engine, coupled with my reasoning ability, and buttressed by my "big picture" vision. Human abilities which are missing from this Y2K engine program.

-- Chris (, January 10, 1999.

Yayyy the phone is working this morning!! Something the engine does not take into account is the self-healing property built into much modern communications equipment. Internet routing, for instance, acts very much like the human brain in finding new communications routes around portions that are not functional.

-- Paul Davis (, January 11, 1999.

Software programs, the code, is brittle. Very brittle.

Human beings are resilient. Very resilient.

Software, brittle. Human beings, resilient.

So, ask yourself:

Where does brittleness reside in the code?

Where does resiliency reside in the code?

When uh-oh happens, does remediation require response from a sentient being, a resilient level of awareness? (Like the folks who quickly intervene when us newbies forget to write a closing tag?)

Brittle or resilient?

Brittle and resilience. How do they couple?

-- (, January 11, 1999.

RC, the y2k probability engine is wrong. If you're talking about the one from y2knewswire, the words surrounding the mathematics do not match the equations that the engine use. Now the engine does a simple multiplication for all probabities. (For dependent systems, this formula is not correct.) And the final result is the probabilty that at least one failure will occur, not total collaspe as one is lead to believe. For the total collaspe calculation you need to use a different formula. I may not be making myself clear but simply put they have mixed the formulae with the wrong interpretations. They say systems are dependent then use the formula for independent systems. In the end you have to understand probabilities to accurately interprete the results. Unfortunately, most people use this as an arguement to predict total collaspe.

In my view, it's not that simple. The human spirit and drive to fix things overrides these predictions. To convince yourself of this, just take a look at the last 50 years; the technological advances are staggering.

Troll Maria

-- Maria (, January 11, 1999.

RC and Troll Maria, yes, the engine lacks spirit. Makes a diff.

Leska, keep to the one-story buildings. Better chance of digging out then. Kinda think Y2K isnt the only thing thats gonna bite us this coming year, and beyond.


(Been through one Northridge big one and dont want any more *Sigh* Oh well, all of us signed on for active duty on this planet).

-- Diane J. Squire (, January 11, 1999.

I think the mathematical engine is simplistic, because all the options are all-or-nothing. But the human body analogy, IMO, is a good one. Lets not be too smug about the resiliency of the human body. There are scores of malfunctions that can kill us.

Like the human body, modern civilization is very resilient and adaptable. As Phillip Greenspun points out, computer systems failures happen all the time, and life goes on. Also like the human body, a widespread infection or cancer can take out the whole shootin' match.

One thing that worries me about Y2K is that it hits the very things that make modern society adaptable. Banking, telecommunications...these are the means by which we adapt to problems. It's like the digital equivalent of AIDS.

I'm reading a book right now on the study of complex adaptive systems, written by John Holland, one of the leading scientists in the field. It's a pretty new science, but it's becoming clear that the central nervous system, the immune system, the ecosystem, and the economy are all governed by similar principles. Remember that although the individual components of our infrastructure were designed, the overall system grew in a much more organic fashion, with nobody really directing it.

Anyway, it's fascinating reading from a Y2K perspective, and in case you're wondering, by no means is it reassuring.

-- Shimrod (, January 11, 1999.

Yes Shimrod, and it goes to show how we humans build our environment in our own image, as primitive as it is, because that is all we know.

(Perhaps what we need is Leska and Diane's aliens to come and save us afterall ;-) Just kidding guys, don't throw fruitcakes at me.)

-- Chris (, January 11, 1999.

Chris, just to clarify my position ;-)

I started that thread because it was compared to Y2K and was a news reporting technique I had never seen before. Turns out it was legitimate, surprise! Thanks for your help. But as I stated early in the thread, I'm not experienced with aliens, not sure I even believe any of it.

It's not in my range of immediate interests. Right now we're rearranging all our supplies in these cool green Rubbermaid 10-gallon roughneck plastic tote-able containers which were on sale for 3.99 each -- yes! Sure will look better than all the scraggly cardboard moving boxes, and be easier to haul, and lifetime durable. So guess I'm a more practical kinda person, by necessity.

Have had one experience with outer space which convinced me God is real (already *knew* that, but any expansive proof helps the old delusive Just What's He Like doubts piece), but no alien sightings.

Ashton, on the other hand, has actually had experience with other beings, but he's too busy to think about it much. We're both too wrapped up in more mundane things, don't even research it.

It seems Diane has a greater interest and more developed knowledge in the alien arena, and her locality is closer than ours to go interview Firmage, which seems like a good idea to get his ideas re Y2K and government smooth-over techniques, etc.

Ashton & Leska in Cascadia, organizing & labelling all this emergency prep stuff. BTW, FEMA advises we all have a whistle in our backpack to save our vocal chords :-)

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

-- Leska (, January 11, 1999.

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