We are living in a world where almost everything is controlled by technology. In this new world it’s almost normal that everything is connected to the internet or can communicate with other devices. Most of the people believe that this is awesome, and maybe it is. However, we should always keep a close eye on our technology. We need to be careful that we don’t trust too much on our technology. Why? There are multiple occasions that our technology almost destroyed the world as we know it. Below you will find a list of 5 times it almost went wrong.
During the Cold War the United States of America build an early detection system for a possible Nuclear attack from the Russians. On 24 November 1961 multiple detection sites lost communication with the control center. This caused multiple B-52 bomber planes to start their flight to Russia. However, the communication was restored when the planes were about to leave Alaska airspace and the attack was cancelled. The cause of the error? All detection sites where routed within one hub, this hub overheated…
With multiple wars going on in South America, Afghanistan and Africa the tensions between the Russians and America is on a high level again. On 9 November 1979 the Pentagon, NORAD and SAC noticed a clear pattern on their radars showing an nuclear attack started by the Russians. They directly started the protocol for the counter attack. Within 6 minutes the full doomsday scenario was launched by the Americans. Minutes after the first airplanes were airborne for the counter attack the Americans noticed that an engineer started a test simulation by accident.
Less than a year after the last incident almost the same thing happened. The American detection systems discovered the launch of two nuclear rockets headed to America. While two rockets are bad already, minutes later the same system showed 200 rockets incoming. Luckily this time they noticed the error much sooner than a year before. This time the error was caused by a chip that failed.
A European biotech company created a bacterium that was able to produce ethanol from food waste. These bacteria were checked by the agencies and was rated as safe for humans and environment. However, all the computer scenarios were done with a sterile environment. The computer simulations never tested normal ground while it was programmed to do so. During a small real test, it was noticed very quickly that these bacteria killed every plant it touched. If it was ever used outside the safe environment it would have caused the destruction of every plant on earth.
On 25 January 1995 Norway scientist launched a rocket to study the Northern light. The Russian missile detection system identified the rocket as a nuclear American Trident missile with only 10 minutes left for impact on Russian soil. They started all preparations for World War 3 within minutes. While Norway informed all countries about the test, it seems that this digital communication didn’t arrive by the Russian Defense staff. After the incident the Russian President give a statement, they detected the error only 60 seconds before their counter attack couldn’t be stopped anymore.
The point of all this information is: Technology is good. However, it should still not replace the human touch. How good the technology gets; it should never ever replace the human touch that could detect errors that the system doesn’t.