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"S. Ron Oliver" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
S. Ron Oliver
Sat, 3 Aug 2002 09:44:20 -0600
text/plain (63 lines)
At 02:46 PM 8/2/02 -0400, Michael Feldman wrote:
>[said Ron Oliver]
> >
> > At 11:02 AM 8/1/02 -0400, Michael Feldman wrote:
> > >Specifically, what kinds of software screwups do you envision, that
> > >would be bad enough to arouse public outrage?
> >
> > The kind where lawyers get involved and start winning large $$ law suits
> > against companies that develop software.
> >
>Well, yes, but in what sorts of domains do you think that will
>happen? Big time lawsuits won't happen until either
>1. lots of people die or are seriously disabled, or
>2. REALLY big bucks are lost by businesses

I'm more inclined to think it will be the latter.  And it doesn't
necessarily take a dramatic failure that you or I would "obviously"
consider heinous.  All it takes is substantial loss of revenue, a legal
firm willing to fight for the damages, and a jury that goes along with the

. . .

>So I ask again: what kind of outrage do you envision? What kinds
>of programs must screw up badly enough to piss off the public?

Although I am not nearly as cynical as you, I will agree public apathy,
especially in the U.S., is appallingly high.

But a large part of the problem is simply a matter of education.  That's
where we, in particular organizations like ACM, come in or should.  If we
were doing our job, we would be educating the public on these issues and
fanning the flames of outrage, on a daily basis.

I'll also have to admit that, if anything, "we" (ACM) presently are doing
just the opposite - aiding and abetting irresponsible practitioners.

I just believe that HAS to change.

But who can say how or when it will?

Certainly nothing significant is being done, that I can see, among
institutions of higher education, which one would hope would be leading the
way in such an issue.

But that is a discussion we've already had and do not need to reopen.


S. Ron Oliver, the U.S. representative for Top Graph'X, developers of high
quality software components, using Ada, including OrbRiver the
multi-language ORB.  A single distributed programming environment for all
developers.  Supports Ada95, Java, and C++.

For more information, check out

Semi-retired professor of Computer Science and Computer