When Everything is Software

too many things go bad before you can even notice them.

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My professional slogan has always been, for almost twenty years now, that:

your civil rights and the quality of your life depend on how software is used AROUND you.

Here are a few recent examples, from sectors as different (but not unrelated, of course) as air travel, politics and finance sectors, of how dangerously true that slogan of mine is.

Hidden autopilots

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Speaking of the Boeing 737 Max “deadly assumptions, Farhad Manjoo rightly said:

“Before everything was software, you couldn’t make a last-minute design change on an airplane that the FAA wouldn’t notice. But when everything is software - and when FAA “loves”️ Boeing - you get two crashes before anyone realizes that something’s not right here”.

Of course, as others replying to that tweet pointed out, the real root causes are (as always) human greed and stupidity. Software, however, makes it much easier than previous technologies to make and hide certain “mistakes”. And therefore requires, since we can’t certainly go back, much more oversight and awareness, both among regulators and in the general public. That’s my whole point, really. Because this is about much more than air travel.

Don’t forget elections

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Please appreciate how, if you take the tweet above and replace:

  • “airplane” with “political propaganda”
  • “FAA” with “media”
  • “crashes” with “elections” and, finally:
  • “software” with “software and digital social networks”

The result is still 100% true. And impacts many, many more people than the two Boeing 737 Max crashes, albeit without directly killing them, of course.

Oh, and never forget High Speed Trading

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Someone said that, some day, the Stock Market alone “could eat the power grid”. Meanwhile, did you know that:

See above about greed and stupidity, of course. Personally, I am every year more surprised that something like High Speed Trading (also known as High Frequency Trading) is even allowed to exist, really. As a very minimum, I argue that stock trades should be taxed based on the length of the holding period, as suggested here.

Image sources (follow the links to learn more on each topic!)