I was intrigued by a Wired article this morning that suggested the problems Toyota was having with its Pruis and other models accelerating for no apparent reason could be caused by Cosmic Rays!
“LiveScience says federal regulators are taking this possibility seriously after receiving a tip suggesting the design of Toyota’s chips, processors and software could make them especially vulnerable to cosmic radiation. According to a USA Today analysis, speed-control problems comprise a higher proportion of Toyota owners’ complaints to authorities than any other automaker. But Toyota is hardly alone in facing this threat — electronic components play an ever-larger role in controlling our vehicles, so theoretically it could happen to any car.”
We have over the last 15 years become increasingly reliant on technology for nearly all aspects of our lives – in the home, in the car and at work. What we appear to have overlooked or not clearly understood is the impact that factors external to the earth we live on may have on this technology.
There has for some years been fears of Solar Storms causing major problems and a couple of years ago I wrote a short story called ‘Mail on Mars’ that detailed just such an event where a solar storm took out all the communication technology and society had to reinvent the mail. This story was aimed at triggering thoughts around idealised design, if you had nothing what would you build and why? This latest story in Wired brings this to the fore again – what would we do if cosmic rays can in fact disrupt integrated circuits – will we get a new panic such as the millennium bug fiasco of 9 years ago – or will we ignore it and hope it never happens?
How many companies still have manual systems? How many organisations even consider what would happen if there was a major technology glitch? What would YOU do if the internet went down – forever?
I realise these are difficult questions and hopefully ones we will never have to face – but preparedness is one of the things that can minimise risk – are these questions that we should be asking?
Source: Howard Wright