It is really not my intention to scare folks, but the sad, brutal reality is that the turn of the century probably is going to result in big-time, large-scale, global problems. The recent underreported scrambling to “solve” the problems of the so-called “millennium bug” is way too little, and far too late.
The latest revised estimates are that it is going to cost worldwide over $6 TRILLION to correct the myriad computer-related problems that will be caused by the myopia of pioneer computer programmers, and the subsequent procrastination of folks who should know better.
The White House’s fictional “budget surplus,” beyond being a bean counter’s creative writing exercise, is still chump change compared to the humongous scope of the real problem. This problem, unlike so many others than can be spun, put off, and obfuscated, cannot and will not be mitigated by rhetoric. The deadline is fixed, real and immune to political b.s.
According to the experts, even best-case scenario remedial measures will result in less than half of the federal agencies being ready for the chaos of Dec. 31, 1999. The United States Defense Department claims they can solve the problems by the year 2012. The Department of Energy claims by 2019, they will have it handled. Both of those optimistic projections are waaaay too late.
Unless or until someone, somewhere, somehow, delivers a “silver bullet” solution, life as we know it will change significantly. Seventy-seven percent of the Fortune 500 companies reluctantly concede they have grossly underestimated both the cost and the scope of the problem.
Band-aid surgery ain’t gonna work. Despite the tripling of estimated costs to address the Y2K nightmare, the tragic reality is that if everyone devoted full time effort starting yesterday, we don’t have enough time to correct the inevitable problems.
We have become so dependent on the symbiotic link of communications and computers, that if everything isn’t fixed and up and running 12/31/99, we can and should anticipate major breakdowns. Computers are great … but we have become so dependent on them, that when they fail to respond, we could find ourselves thrust into the 19th century. EVERY portion of contemporary modern life is going to be affected — significantly: stock markets, banks, utilities, telecommunications, public transportation, defense, and the whole industrial infrastructure throughout most of the developed and developing countries.
A leading Canadian software specialist, Peter de Jager noted that “Resources are finite as everyone has the same deadline. There are 340,000 qualified people in the world to do the work. A fixed deadline is an oxymoron in the information technology industry. … The deadline is actually nine months away, not 21 months, as systems have to be given exhaustive tests.”
Tests have already been done by companies who have shut down systems, reset the clocks to 12/31/99. When the year 00 rolls up, EVERYTHING shuts down. They have done the diagnostics and tried fixing specific problems and rebooted. Again, CRASH.
Consider just one company, General Motors, which has BILLIONS of lines of code, all of which have to be re-written. Compound that on a global scope and start praying.
Several more optimistic types have developed methods of protecting YOUR computers, and YOUR software. Well, excuse me, but unless or until the BIG problem is fixed, we could see a collapse of the power grid. No juice, no computers. No WorldNetDaily, no radio program for Geoff Metcalf.
I’m certainly not an expert, and I really don’t know how really bad it is going to be, but I DO know it is going to be a lot worse than any official is willing to admit. In the meantime, since this potential tragedy is something you and I can’t really affect, I STRONGLY recommend that before the end of 1998 everyone makes the concerted effort to obtain hard copies of significant documentation: IRS records, DMV records, bank statements, medical records, retirement account records, etc..
Unless or until, some miracle blesses us all, your personal priorities may very well change significantly in the not too distant future. Keep, obtain, and protect firearms, learn to fish, garden, and consider how (if the worst case scenario does happen) you can feed your family.
This is a warning, and I hope and pray I am overstating the problem. I would dearly like to be proved wrong.