Dr. Paula, they knew.

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Senator Bennett's openibg speech in the Congressional Record. http://www.senate.gov/~y2k/speeches/bennett980511.htm

"Where are the embedded chips? They are embedded everywhere. Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel, the largest producer of chips in the United States, was here in Washington a week or so ago. He was asked, `How serious is the Y2K problem?' He said, `It is very serious. And the reason is'--he is focusing on the chip side--`you don't know where the embedded chips are embedded.' `For example,' he said, `the thermostat in your home may not work after New Year's Eve, 1999.' Now, it will not do you any good to call the manufacturer of the thermostat and ask him, because the manufacturer himself does not know. The chips were purchased, put into the thermostat, without concern as to whether or not they had a date function. And if the manufacturer got some chips that had date functions in them and put those chips into your thermostat, you are going to be very chilly on New Year's Day in the year 2000. And there is no way of knowing in advance whether that is going to happen.

That can be a nuisance for you, it can be a life-or-death situation for some people, and it can be an enormous manufacturing challenge where we are storing and refrigerating meat and other perishables that are dependent on those embedded chips. It can be a life-or-death situation for an automobile manufacturer whose entire plant is now automated with robotics, all of which have embedded chips.

So, as I said, Mr. President, it is not just the software that needs to be changed, as the first of these three areas of concern; it is also the embedded chips that need to be found and dealt with.

As a final footnote to this, I was discussing this whole Y2K issue with an individual at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church, the largest church in the State which I represent, asking him how prepared the church was. Fortunately, it was good news. He said the church was quite prepared. But he said, `We have identified, among other things, two embedded chips in the tabernacle organ, which if we do not replace means that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will not have any organ accompaniment to it on January 1, 2000.' That shows how ubiquitous the problem of the embedded chips can be and how it can show up in places no one would ever think. "

-- edie (edie@aol.com), December 23, 1999


FactFinder....where are you? Please respond to this: " Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel, the largest producer of chips in the United States, was here in Washington a week or so ago. He was asked, `How serious is the Y2K problem?' He said, `It is very serious. And the reason is'--he is focusing on the chip side--`you don't know where the embedded chips are embedded.' "

-- Birdlady (Birdlady@nest.home), December 23, 1999.


Thanks very much for your note.

Regarding the President: of course, one cannot assume that because Senator Bennett or anyone else mentioned embedded systems to the President that the President grasped the importance of what was said. If he had fully grasped the importance of the embedded systems problem, he would have become concerned abput the threats that the problem poses for public health and safety, for the environment, and the stability of the nation and the world. He would have revealed some evidence of his concern. Instead he has continued to view Y2K narrowly as a computer problem and has even dismissed the need to prepare (during remarks made at the White House November 10).

I have followed what Senator Bennett has had to say since June of 1998. I think that his speech at the National Press Club on July 15, 1998 was the best that I ever heard anyone in Congress give on the subject. However, he all but recanted that speech when he appeared at the Press Club in the fall of this year.

I have raised questions of him on many occasions. I know that Senator Bennett recognized the embedded systems problem as a serious problem in 1998. I know that he was also of a mind that any technological disasters that might be triggered by malfunction embedded systems would occur abroad and not on US soil. He has subsequently backtracked regarding his awareness of the seriousness threats posed by the malfunctioning of embedded systems. On occasion however, he has continued to show great concern: He held some hearings on the chemical sector in March and May of 1999 and co-authored a letter of concern to the NRC regarding Y2K and nuclear power plant safety in October 1999).

What follows is a portion of a thread that I posted yesterday that touches on changes in Senator Bennett's perspective:

Senator Bennett seemed to understand the embedded issue for a time between June and July of 1998 and early in 1999. Then in early 1999 the Senator became convinced by corporate leaders that he spoke with that embedded systems problems were not as great as he had previously been led to believe. For a variety of reasons, including, apparently, the political riskiness of holding onto such an unpopular point of view, Senator Bennett accepted the more sanguine appraisal and at times, seems to have all but declared a premature victory. Meanwhile the President does not seem to have comprehended the problem of embedded systems and the Vice President and his highest level staff seem to understand the significance of embedded systems even less.


You might find my December Comments and Impact Rating of interest. It can be found in the Comments section of GW website at http://www.gwu.edu/~y2k/keypeople/gordon . There are also some current threads that R.C. has posted that deal with "what the government knew and when did they know it". These might be of interest as well, if you have not read all of them already.

Thanks again for your comment,

-- Paula Gordon (pgordon@erols.com), December 23, 1999.

Oh PG, you're a really smart gal, but you think WAY too highly of Beelezabubba!


-- Y2Kook (Y2Kook@usa.net), December 23, 1999.

Dr. Paula:

Thank you for your response but there are other possible reasons for the actions taken. One is national security. Another is to postpone panic as long as possible and to prepare the military.

If the President, Senator Bennett, etc. acknowledged the seriousness of our potential exposure it could threaten our national security. Also, to admit they know would require heroic actions. Denial offers protection.

It is hard for me to believe that they didn't know and no one knowledgable told them!

It is much more acceptable to believe that the knew and made an informed decision--right or wrong.

Regardless, as Truman said, "The buck stops here." This crisis is on their watch.


-- edie (edie@aol.com), December 23, 1999.

Link to the original thread: What did our government know and when did it know it? [oil embedded chips problem]-- R.C. (racambab@mailcity.com), December 20, 1999

and Q/A exchange -- R.C. and Dr. Paula Gordon -- Embeddeds/Gov U gotta see this

(note new posts on both threads today Dec. 23rd, inc. by R.C. and Paula Gordon) R.C. and others - a hint of what was known, and when, on embedded system risk in particular-- Me (me@me.me), December 23, 1999

-- Linda (lwmb@psln.com), December 23, 1999.

Well, actually when Bennett addresses the "President" on the senate floor, he is addressing Vice President Al Gore. The VP is the "President" of the Senate.

Afterwards, the VP is supposed brief the Prez but maybe on that day he had a "do not disturb" sign on the oval office.

-- Sandwich (anon@anon.anon), December 23, 1999.

Paula, The article was talking about embedded chips, you answered talking about embedded "systems".

Have you been communicating or reading the words of Dave Hall? It sounds like you are now backpedaling on all of your previous opinions.

Chips and systems are, as you are well aware of, different things. Does this mean you do believe individual chips no longer pose a threat?

Considering embedded "systems" are any device that is not a "computer" that performs digital functions.

Just as any elecromechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic etc device that does not use digital technology is an "analog embedded system" and between the two they encompass every device in existance?

What do you say about the numbers written in this post (500 billion embedded chips total worldwide)?


-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), December 23, 1999.

Bill Clinton comments during the Fifth Millennium Evening at the Whitehouse on January 25th, 1999;

"I thought Professor Davis did a great service to all of us who are less well-read in what happened 1000 years ago by debunking some of the popular myths. Clearly, not everyone was giving away all their possessions or cowering in churches waiting for the world to end. Maybe what was said tonight will discourage some of our fellow citizens who seem determined to buy desert land and hoard gold, bullets and Skoal in their pickup trucks. (Laughter). I don't know. You laugh, this is a major source of conversation every morning in the Whitehouse, here."

http://www.pub.whitehouse.gov/uri- res/I2R?urn:pdi://oma.eop.gov.us/1999/1/27/13.text.1

This man is the President of the United States of America. He has managed to be elected twice. He and his would-be successor are *wasting* precious oxygen and if the world were to actually end......I could leave it knowing that, if nothing else, at least *I* never voted for him. Those of you who DID should consider one shell and a spin of the chamber.

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), December 23, 1999.

Betchya were hoping I'd forgotten about that little tid-bit, eh Bill?

You may now resume your brunch and chuckles.


-- Will continue (farming@home.com), December 23, 1999.

Paula Gordon:

I have concerns about embedded systems because of, among other things, Jim Lord's revelations about his friend the CEO. However, I do suspect that Sen. Bennett truly did have exaggerated concerns initially, which he later backtracked on.

For example, the quote from him at the beginning of this thread speaks of thermostats (to me it implies simple home thermostats) that might easily malfunction if a single chip fails. I seriously doubt that will happen with simple home thermostats, because I doubt they perform a time calculation. If this type of device had problems, we would truly be facing TEOTWAWKI.

Thus, I believe it is correct to say that Bob Bennett was initially overly alarmist about the extent of embedded system problems, and that he backpedaled. Whether or not he backpedaled way too far, we will find out.

Do you agree with me about the thermostat? You may think this is a trivial question, but to me your opinion on this affects your credibility.

-- Bill Byars (billbyaes@softwaresmith.com), December 23, 1999.

My house is heated and cooled by a computerized, variable speed Trane XV 1500 Weathertron heat pump.

In this city of 110,000 people or so, I'm told by the local dealer that mine is one of only ten or so of these units in the area.

It has been a marvel of efficiency and reliability over the last eight years, with only one minor problem, that being a stuck valve in the refrigerant circulation pump.

Assuming the Internet is still up on January 2nd, 2000, I will report back as to whether it is still working, or it isn't.

-- ExBigSkyGuy (NotThere@AnymoreMore.Com), December 23, 1999.

Dear Cherri,

You asked about the definition that Paula Gordon is using for "embedded systems". Here is the definition of "embedded systems" she used in Part 2 of her White Paper "A Call to Action: National and Global Implications of the Year 2000 and Embedded Systems Crisis" http://www.gwu.edu/~y2k/keypeople/gordon

"Embedded systems contain 'programmed instructions running via processor chips.....They perform control, protection, and monitoring tasks....In broad terms embedded systems are programmable devices or systems which are generally used to control or monitor things like processes, machinery, environments, equipment, and communications."

She cites the United Kingdom's Action 2000 website as the source of the definition: http://www.open.gov.uk/bg2000/whattodo/embsys2.html

She evidently is using the term in the same way many do when the context of the discussion is Y2K. Apparently this is how the Action 2000 website is using the term as well.

She used the same definition of embedded systems on C-SPAN on November 23. You can check that out online. A video of the program is in the C-SPAN archives.

Regarding possible changes in her views, there have been some, but they are all in the direction of increased concern. Her latest rating at the beginning of December was a provisional 5.5 to 9.5. She thinks that there is still an opportunity to take steps "to prevent and minimize impacts" and if more is done over the course of the next weeks and months, she believes that the rating could be closer to a 5.5 than a 9.5. She also thinks that problems are likely to go a long time. She would add that in addition to doing everything possible to address the embedded systems problem, that other actions need to be taken. In her view, a major step would be for the government to begin treating Y2K and embedded systems challenges as a crisis.

If you read her "December Comments" (by going to the "Comments..." section of her website), you will see that she has certainly not become less concerned about embedded systems over the past months. If anything, her concern has been increasing. As you probably know, she has focused her attention on the sectors that could cause the greatest damage if major problems occur: nuclear, chemical, pipelines, etc. Her concern about these sectors has been increasing. You can see this in following her comments on Russ Kelly's website (http://www.russkelly.com)

BTW, thanks so much for posting the thread on nuclear power plants today. A lot of people should find that reference of interest. Yesterday's press briefing on Y2K and nuclear concerns might also be of interest. It was broadcast on C-SPAN and can be found in the C-SPAN archives as well.


-- ab (ab@ba.lo), December 23, 1999.

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