Will the Web Go Silent for a Day?
Apocalypse aside, the year 2000 may bring western civilization to its knees, all because of the microchip! Our culture in the technological world is tied to computers and everything from locks in automobiles to spy satellites use computer chips to work correctly. When the year “99” becomes “00” many of these systems are in danger of malfunction!
So far, there has been little attention paid to this issue, but some warn that we have no time for complacency. The problem is worse than we expect and it may be the computers that serve up the web that may be in the most danger.
Gary North is one of the doomsayers. In his Year 2000 site he says, “Tens of millions — possibly hundreds of millions — of pre-programmed computer chips will begin to shut down the systems they automatically control. This will create a nightmare for every area of life, in every region of the industrialized world!”
An investigation by British journalists has already discovered that Pentagon senior officials have admitted the millennium problem could be catastrophic for the US military. He said that missile systems could fail. Even the CIA is seriously affected. A senior British Ministry of Defence official has admitted the scale of the problem for the MoD is akin to mounting a major combined military exercise continually for the next three years. Fixing the bugs – if it can be done – will cost Britain at least £100 million. IBM says the problem will cost the US $600 billion to fix, and admits it is already too late for many companies.
A senior British academic agrees. “Satellites may have to be retrieved from space to be fixed. Global Positioning Systems, which guide cruise missiles and many of the world’s aircraft will fail. Fighter aircraft could crash.”
|I am regarded as an apocalyptic fanatic.
The American Securities and Exchange Commission have sent out urgent warnings calling for companies to fix their computers, but little has been done – and even less has been done in Europe. There could be a catastrophic impact on nuclear power stations. The European Monetary Union might need to be delayed because of the need for programmers to work on the millennium problem when they are supposed to be modifying computers for EMU. There could be a world-wide computer collapse and a global slump.
Ian Taylor, the British Government’s Science and Technology Minister said, “Failure to deal with the problem could lead to commercial collapse. I put it bluntly because I want to get the message across. It will not respect national frontiers. Unless we act now there will be international chaos.”
One possible solution for many computers may be to simply deactivate them while the clock turns past midnight. But the computers that run the internet are connected 24 hours a day. One desperate scenario calls for shutting down the entire web for a full day as the millenium sweeps around the globe!
The problem, of course, is much more complex. A global reboot won’t solve the problem. It will require many minds and an agressive campaign. Even the industry giant IBM is worrying. “Time is running out. This is a survival issue for some firms…if you are not already seriously considering the impact this will have on your business then it is probably too late!”
New personal computers contain an adjusted software program called BIOS, which controls basic computer operations, that should switch the century from 19 to 20 automatically if it discovers that the year has changed from 99 to 00.
But BIOS only works each time it is switched on. So the machine must be switched off before the clock strikes midnight at the end of 1999, the magazine said.
If a computer is left on, it will probably crash before anyone realizes that something is wrong. .