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"Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
"S. Ron Oliver" <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 1 Aug 2002 11:02:15 -0400
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
<> from "S. Ron Oliver" at Aug 01, 2002 07:46:44 AM
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[said Ron in response to MBF]

> >"The public" reacts when something *really* bad happens (Sept. 11,
> >say), or when something *really* hits them in the pocketbook
> >(Enron or WorldCom, say). I'm afraid that unless something of
> >this nature happens that can be *clearly* attributed to lousy
> >software, we'll see no "public outrage" on this issue.
> This is the type of change I'm talking about.  And it will happen, though
> perhaps not as quickly as we would like.

Specifically, what kinds of software screwups do you envision, that
would be bad enough to arouse public outrage?

There are pretty serious problems in US society (and other societies)
that we talk about, occasionally hit the press, but generally result
in little to no action. In fact, though we scream and holler about
some things (plane crashes, train wrecks, etc.), I think most people
realize that modern life is not without risk, and that sh*t happens
now and then. People may get temporarily upset, but then they go back
to their lives because they cannot survive otherwise.

I'm going out on a limb here: I think the outrage over Sept. 11 was
not so much because of the number of deaths (as we all know, more
people than that die on the highways in an average week or two) but
because we were *insulted* by the audacity of those guys. It pissed
us off.

So what would be bad enough in software to piss the public off
enough to demand, and get, action from industry and government?
> As Peter pointed out, the Europeans are ahead of us here.  But even people
> in the U.S. will eventually become more concerned.

In what areas have "the Europeans" demanded real action?
> >When GM recalled millions of cars to replace the software in
> >millions of airbags, it hardly made the papers. The airbags were
> >popping off unexpectedly in non-accident situations. This can
> >be *dangerous*, right? Where was the outrage?
> Interesting example.  How much of the lack of consumer reaction here had to
> do with "careful" publicity?  I'll wager a lot of it.  As long ago as 1979,
> probably earlier, corporations and government agencies began the policy of
> misrepresenting, if not outright lying about, problems due to software
> errors.  And after that famous Scientific American article on the Software
> Crisis (1993?) some groups (most notably Mike's favorite) actually started
> hiring marketing specialists to fabricate "popular" lies about the troubles
> with software.

Well, government and industry (and interest groups of various kinds)
will naturally spin stories that make them look good. Given that
this really is in the nature of things, what will get us pissed off?
> . . .
> >I'd feel better if each
> >time this subject came up, I got a minor flood of new tips for
> >my project summary. But that's just not happening. If the
> >projects are out there, people can't or won't talk about it.
> Why don't you ask Peter about the recent new projects he's aware of in Europe.

I hope he'll make contact if he thinks can get away with it.